“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
On October 1, 2017, a gunman fired more than 1,000 bullets from a 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. He murdered 60 people, 867 were wounded. Roughly two months later, Make the Road Nevada (MRNV) opened its doors. The nascent organization would help protect immigrant workers affected by the Route 91 mass shooting. Make the Road Nevada, inspired by a single tragic event, evolved into a multilayered force for justice.
Make the Road was introduced in the state of New York in the fall of 2007. The phrase is about self-reliance, paving one’s own path to dignity, community and power.
MRNV works to empower Latinx and working-class communities of color. Through organizing, innovative approaches to policy, and education, the nonprofit pursues often elusive justice, in every aspect of life.
“From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.” – Cesar Chavez
In the Arena
Pick an arena where justice has traditionally been in short supply, and you’ll find Make the Road working to change it. Social, economic, immigration, housing and education are all areas where MRNV is making a difference.
Among its many legislative efforts, MRNV is currently fighting to pass a paid sick leave law, so Nevada workers aren’t forced to choose between their job or taking care of a sick family member.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
It’s better known as DACA and many recipients in Nevada rely on MRNV to offer guidance and keep them updated with the latest information. The program has protected hundreds of thousands of undocumented young adults from deportation, but it’s been in a kind of legal limbo since its creation in 2012.
MRNV recently played a major role securing the approval of Clark County’s Board of Commissioners for $500,000 for free legal assistance to those under threat of deportation. Many undocumented immigrants, including unaccompanied children have to represent themselves in immigration court proceedings. In total, MRNV has secured more than $1 million to aid in the deportation defense. Much has been done through a collaboration with the UNLV Immigration Law Clinic.
“We educated, privileged lawyers have a professional and moral duty to represent the underrepresented in our society, to ensure that justice exists for all, both legal and economic justice.”– Sonia Sotomayor
The Esperanza Fund
Esperanza means hope in Spanish. MRNV has provided hope and significant help by helping to initiate this fund, fueled by grant money. The dollars were distributed to undocumented yet essential workers who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for pandemic related government stimulus. Healthcare and warehouse workers, grocery store clerks and many others critical to keeping the economy going, were kept afloat.
Make the Road Nevada works alongside community leaders pushing for equitable housing for everyone. They fight for the rights of tenants, which is even more significant given pandemic related evictions.
The SCE Credit Union connection
Rico Ocampo is a Justice Organizer with MRNV and he describes their partnership with SCE Credit Union in glowing terms. “The Credit Union has been instrumental in educating our members. They’ve offered advice about financial planning and provided the products that lead to prosperity.” Ocampo says for many of his organization’s members, it’s the first time they’ve learned the facts about credit, 401Ks, and buying a home.
Ocampo also credits SCE Credit Union’s own nonprofit, The Center for Financial Empowerment for the financial literacy workshops it has put on for Make the Road Nevada’s youth. “The great thing about SCE Credit Union is they come to us; their experts make house calls. That’s a major factor and a big reason why financial literacy among our members has really improved,” Ocampo says.
In only four years of existence, Make the Road Nevada has made a significant difference in the lives of many immigrants. They embody this quote from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“We should not be scared of what will happen if we try. We should be scared of what will happen if we don’t.”