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New Americans Fellowship


Spearheaded by County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisor Dave Cortese and managed by the Office of Immigrant Relations, the New Americans Fellowship is a leadership pipeline for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients living, working, or going to school in Santa Clara County. The Fellowship is 10 weeks and offers career development and a stipend of up to $10,000 to cover living expenses. Fellows are placed in various County departments and gain transferable skills and professional development such as:

  • Research and policy analysis 
  • Public communication and group facilitation
  • Graphic design and marketing
  • Develop knowledge to intergovernmental processes
  • Project support and management
  • County software​ 
  • Serve as ambassadors to improve and expand immigrant integration​
​"I would like to thank the Board and the Office of Immigrant Relations for this opportunity. The fellowship allowed me to gain professional skills that I can use in the next step of my life. I am grateful for the networking and friendships made here. I would recommend this program to everyone."
—2019 fellow

Background Summary
Initiated in 2016 by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors at the request of Board President Dave Cortese, the New Americans Fellowship provides Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients an opportunity to serve Santa Clara County’s immigrant communities and become ambassadors of DACA in Santa Clara County. ​The Office of Immigrant Relations provides full oversight and program management.
What is a current DACA recipient?  
A current DACA recipient is an individual with a current grant of deferred action under the U.S. government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA gives young undocumented immigrants:
    1. Protection from deportation
    2. A work permit
​The program expires after two years, subject to renewal. For more information, visit the USCIS website

*Free to low cost resources for DACA renewals provided by the County of Santa Clara is available here​.

Goals at a Glance
The NAF advances the County’s commitment to build Welcoming Communities through harnessing the full potential of immigrants by ensuring that workforce systems can leverage their unique experiences and skills.

1. Create and maintain a leadership pipeline for DACA recipients where fellows continue to
    • Actively participate in civic life
    • Work for social change and public service
    • Professional development for economic opportunity: transition to jobs with sustainable wages​
    • Serve as ambassadors to improve and expand immigrant integration​​
2. Fellows to gain critical policy analysis skills and ​develop recommendations to improve County services​
    • With mentorship support, independently research and analyze policies that impact immigrant communities
    • Develop policy recommendations to improve County services​
"The New Americans Fellowship provided valuable connections and lifelong mentors within the County government. This fellowship program also proved to be crucial by providing the experience necessary towards advancing my professional career."
–2019 fellow Kevin Lee, Policy Aide at the Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese, District 3

"As a DACA recipient, I noticed that there are very few paid fellowships for people like me. The New American Fellowship opened doors for my cohort. We got to meet with elected officials, community organizations, County departments and many more to learn how Santa Clara County continues to be a welcoming space to the immigrant community."
 —2018 fellow Alejandra Garcia, California State Legislature, Assembly Appropriations Committee

The NAF is exemplary of equity by providing disadvantaged students and recent graduates an opportunity to impact and drive decisions
at a policy level. In addition, there are numerous cost benefits when considering their skills and lived experiences as DACA recipients.

County Government Impact
    • Increases County visibility, which also increases sought-after student talent wanting to gain experience with the County
Community Impact
    • Promotes an intersectional approach to equity and social justice to support immigrant communities
Economic Impact
    • County-invested leadership opportunities for DACA recipients translate to significant contributions to the economy
Academic Impact
    • Fellows gain skills in policy analysis, practical experience, and other highly desired skills that would diversify academia

Latest Survey Findings

2019 Cohort
  • 93% of participants felt the NAF was a valuable experience
  • 72% of participants believed the NAF was a valuable experience for their academic growth
  • 72% of participants will continue to pursue career opportunities in the specific field of their fellowship
  • 57% of participants responded “yes” to being interested in pursing a role in local government and 43% responded “possibly” 


Last updated: 10/20/2020 9:12 PM