Viri Carrizales and Vanessa Luna co-founded ImmSchools, a venture dedicated to ensuring all students and families, regardless of their immigration status, feel safe and welcomed in school from kindergarten through 12th grade. The idea for ImmSchools grew out of a long-standing need they saw affecting students in multiple communities.
“We have both worked in the intersection of education and immigration, and witnessed the effects of immigration policies on students and families. Growing up undocumented in low-income communities in New York and Texas, we never felt safe enough to disclose our status with teachers, which deeply affected our ability to access resources and opportunities.”
Their identities played a big role in why it was important to them to launch ImmSchools.
“As underrepresented entrepreneurs, we believe that the work toward educational equity must be led by those directly impacted by this issue. We are aware that as women, immigrants, and Latinas who grew up in a low-income community, we have encountered unique challenges, and our communities are not often represented in the entrepreneur sphere.”
Viri and Vanessa credit the LEE's online courses and community with providing them guidance and support at a critical stage.
“We had an idea, the passion, and determination to support our immigrant community, and LEE helped provide guidance and examples to express and actualize our vision. The courses and support of LEE staff were helpful in providing necessary resources in the early stages of our venture. We appreciated the intentional learning experiences, exercises, and reflection questions that allowed us to think deeply about our work in the early stages of our venture.”
For other members who are considering launching a civic venture, Viri and Vanessa have a few words of wisdom.
“Our advice for those with similar experiences is to take the risk, to know that you are uniquely positioned to address educational inequity and have an impact in your community.”
Are you ready to take the next step in your venture? Get feedback and support from a LEE coach, who can connect you to fellow LEE members who've launched organizations. Work with your LEE community to practice explaining how your venture will achieve its mission in a way that’s quick, clear, and engaging — before you have to do in front of a room of potential funders!