The Puentes Initiative: An Exciting Initiative with Volunteer Opportunities

The Legal Studies program is proud to be a founding organizer and supporter of the Puentes Initiative. Puentes is a new campus-community collaboration focused on improving immigrant legal aid, support, and empowerment in Santa Cruz. The goal is to build bridges between UCSC and the local community to help close the access to justice gap for local immigrants and refugees. It emerged with support from Legal Studies, Oakes College/CARA, and local legal aid groups and community organizations.

In Fall 2018, Puentes began training UCSC students as legal fellows and organizing free immigrant legal aid clinics in Santa Cruz city - the first of their kind. Puentes held its first free immigrant legal aid clinic in February. It is organizing a local community resource fair on April 13 at the Resource Center for Non-Violence, and welcomes UCSC students and others to attend. The initiative plans to hold another free immigrant legal aid clinic in May.

Puentes is also fundraising to support its work, and incredibly grateful to all those who contributed to the project through the UCSC Giving Day campaign!

Puentes is currently undertaking the following activities:

  • Collaborating with Watsonville Law Center and the Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network to create free immigration clinics in Santa Cruz
  • Recruiting and training UCSC Fellows to assist in those clinics
  • Developing a Puentes Fellows Student Organization: a network of students interested in working in the local immigration legal field and supporting each other as they enter the legal profession
  • Developing Know-Your-Rights workshops and trainings for trainers
  • Developing systems and tools for outreach to the Santa Cruz community - providers and the community more generally - to improve networking, information-sharing, agenda development, and community organizing
  • Developing a campus-community walk-in and organizing space at the Hub - As a member organization of Sanctuary Santa Cruz, Puentes is working with other coalition members to shape how we will use this local space
  • Developing funding, institutional space, courses, relationships, and placements with resource centers and legal provider organizations serving the local immigrant community year-round.

Legal Studies is happy to support this important initiative, and proud still that a number of our majors helped to develop it and are among the first group of Legal Fellows and volunteers.

If you're interested in learning more about this work, opportunities for Legal Fellows training, or other volunteer possibilities, please email