Published: July 5, 2017

INVSTCU Boulder students learn about immigration policy as part of their two-year study of social justice and positive change, in the INVST Community Leadership Program.

This summer, 11 University of Colorado Boulder students are embarking upon the experience of a lifetime: INVST's Economic Justice Summer.

Participating students will set out on a monthlong journey across the Midwest and back to the Mountain West, learning directly from business owners, immigrant rights advocates, faith-based groups, meatpacking factory managers and more about a myriad of immigration issues. The goal: to return to CU Boulder with a deeper and more complex understanding of the experience of immigrant communities in the region, as well throughout the rest of the nation.

“The way I see it, you’re at CU Boulder to learn.
So why stay in your bubble? Why do something you’re familiar with when you’re here to grow?”

-CU Boulder INVST student Josh Edelmann

INVST Community Studies, a program of CU Engage, is a leadership training program for young people who are passionate about social and environmental justice. Students who join INVST find a cohort of engaged peers who want to extend their university learning beyond the classroom and learn from people on the front lines of today’s most pressing environmental, social and economic issues. CU Boulder students who participate in INVST Community Studies have a higher retention and graduation rate than other CU Boulder undergraduates. In fact, the vast majority of CU Boulder INVST alumni report that the INVST program provided them with a unique, educational and deeply transformational experience during their time at CU Boulder.

To begin their Economic Justice Summer journey next month, INVST students will head to Garden City, Kansas, where immigrants work in the agricultural sector and the meatpacking industry. There, students will learn about employment trends in rural economies. They will meet with the school district, the city manager and several researchers.

Students will then travel to Chicago, Illinois, to learn from the immigrant rights organization Mexico Solidarity Network. Students will stay with host families in the North Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, with a high percentage of foreign-born residents. This experience will help students understand how grassroots organizing advances improvements in fair wages, access to affordable housing, health care and immigration reform.

Econ Justice Summer

To make INVST’s Economic Justice Summer program as accessible as possible to a wide array of CU Boulder students, the program hopes to raise $4,000 from individual donors this summer to cover trip costs. Can you pitch in? Click the butterfly image above to donate now.

Next, in Detroit, Michigan, INVST students will learn from the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership about education alternatives in a post-industrial city. The Center's aim is to "help develop visionary leaders and critical thinkers who can devise proactive strategies for re-building and re-spiriting our cities from the ground up." The students will then head to Omaha, Nebraska, where they will learn about the impacts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids on immigrant communities.

Finally, students will return to Denver, Colorado, where they will learn from the American Friends Service Committee, the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, DeLaney Farm and others about how and why these organizations work to protect undocumented families from deportation. Students will visit a private facility that detains undocumented people, learn from the perspectives of managers at this deportation facility, learn from the people who are awaiting deportation hearings and meet with organizations that are calling for immigration reform.

The trip concludes with students meeting elected officials at the Colorado State Capital to share what they have learned and to engage in policy conversations with Colorado legislators about immigration. 

CU Boulder military veteran and undergraduate Political Science major Josh Edelmann is one of the INVST students preparing to embark upon this life-changing Economic Justice Summer.

“In INVST, everyone’s here to learn. There’s definitely space in the program to challenge what’s being taught, and you might have a different perspective from somebody but you can voice that,” Edelmann explains.

“The way I see it,” Edelmann says, “You’re at CU Boulder to learn. So why stay in your bubble?  Why do something you’re familiar with when you’re here to grow?”