UndocuFund News

As Wildfires Hit: The First-Ever State UndocuFund Summit hosted by 805 UndocuFund, UndocuFund, and Latino Community Foundation, Calling for Equitable Disaster Relief

This convening is an opportunity for immigrant organizations across California to come together and explore long-term policies to reduce the vulnerability of undocumented communities during climate crisis induced disasters.

Santa Rosa, CA – September 14, 2022 –805 UndocuFund, UndocuFund, and The Latino Community Foundation (LCF), will co-host the first-ever UndocuFund Summit during the start of peak wildfire season in California. From September 18-20th at North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) in Sonoma, the Summit will convene leaders from over 30 grassroots immigrant-serving organizations across California that responded to the pandemic and other disasters. Community leaders will highlight the experiences of undocumented Californians throughout the state and explore collective state and federal advocacy efforts.

“Undocumented workers contribute billions to the economy, yet are excluded from federal disaster aid,” said Beatrice Camacho, Director of UndocuFund in Sonoma County. “Without a safety net, California’s undocumented essential workers have labored through wildfires and smoke, 110 plus degree heatwaves, and the pandemic. They were forced to risk their lives to keep food on the nation’s table during devastating disasters. Now it’s time for California to make them a priority.” 

California is home to 10.6 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) who comprise 27 percent of California’s population. Recent data shows that one in five children in the state are U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (1.7 million children in total).

“When COVID -19 hit, dozens of trusted immigrant organizations were there to distribute nearly $100 million in mutual aid financial relief to more than 40,000 excluded California immigrant households”, said María Melo, Executive Director of the Central Coast’s 805 UndocuFund. “Before that, we also responded to wildfire after wildfire. It’s time to take action: disaster relief and recovery doesn’t begin for anyone until everyone is truly included.”

“LCF is so proud to support and convene UndocuFunds across California. These organizations have inspired the nation to reject the idea that we can leave certain families behind when their homes are on fire,” said Masha Chernyak, VP of Programs of the Latino Community Foundation. “Sonoma UndocuFund was the first of its kind collective fund that inspired countless other efforts such as 805 UndocuFund and more across the nation to center the needs of undocumented workers and their families. Five years later, the compounding crises are still here, but together we are revolutionizing philanthropy.”

In 2021, over 30 grassroots and nonprofits across California worked with philanthropy and the state to distribute more than $100 million in emergency, one-time, cash mutual aid to undocumented Californians affected by COVID-19.

This summit would not be possible without the support of the Latino Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund and the Just Recovery Partnership, which seeks to invest in lasting organizing power. LCF has built a unique model that uses disaster as an opportunity to unite community leaders, invest in their infrastructure, and organize communities to prioritize collective power building. Since its inception, the Partnership has organized efforts around three major wildfires, floods, power outages, and the COVID-19 pandemic.


About 805 UndocuFund

805 UndocuFund is a Central Coast nonprofit that mobilizes resources when disaster hits, providing short-term financial relief to undocumented residents, and advocates for long-term systems change to ensure immigrants are effectively included in disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. For more info, please visit: 805undocufund.org

About the Latino Community Foundation

The Latino Community Foundation is on a mission to unleash the civic and economic power of Latinos in California. LCF has the largest network of Latino philanthropists in the country and has invested over $25 million to build Latino civic and political power and leadership in the state. It is the only statewide foundation solely focused on investing in Latino youth and families in California. For more info, please visit: latinocf.org

About UndocuFund

The UndocuFund for launched by a coalition of immigrant service providers and advocates to provide direct assistance to undocumented victims of the Northern California fires. The fund seeks to support undocumented children, families, and communities in Sonoma County affected by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. For more info, please visit: undocufund.org

Media Contacts:

Maria Melo, (805) 552-6563

Executive Director, 805 UndocuFund

Victoria Sanchez De Alba, (650) 270-7810 / victoria@dealba.net

De Alba Communications (for LCF)

Ariana Andrade, (707) 430-7554 / aandrade@latinocf.org

Senior Communications Manager, Latino Community Foundation


For media inquiries contact: (805) 200-8471

VENTURA, June 13, 2022— 805 UndocuFund is proud to announce that the organization has been awarded a $10,000 grant by the Fund for Santa Barbara to support efforts to advocate for the inclusion of Central Coast undocumented workers in long term local and state disaster relief and recovery policies. Funding will allow 805 Undocufund to build advocacy partnerships and consolidate lessons learned in disaster relief with other local and state grassroots, immigrant-serving organizations that responded to COVID 19, wildfires, and other disasters by distributing one-time emergency cash assistance to undocumented residents affected by crisis and excluded from federal disaster relief and other social safety networks.

“During the past four years of disaster response, we’ve learned the hard lesson that even though we’ve helped thousands when it mattered most, a one-time cash check does not solve the lack of equitable access to resources to recover and rebuild with dignity after crisis,” said Maria Melo, Executive Director of 805 UndocuFund. “Thanks to the Fund for Santa Barbara, 805 UndocuFund will look at what we’ve learned in disaster relief, and more than ever, continue our journey with a mission to fight for policy change.”

The COVID-19 pandemic—and California wildfires— have widely demonstrated how exclusions from federal disaster relief and social safety nets, as well as socio-economic factors such as language barriers, deeply increase the vulnerability of local immigrant communities to disaster. According to the 2021 Regional Central Coast Regional Study, there are more than 90,000 undocumented residents living on the Central Coast of California.

About 805 UndocuFund

Since its creation in 2018, the 805 UndocuFund has fundraised, case-managed and distributed over $8 million to more than 17,000 Central Coast undocumented residents affected by disasters such as the Thomas Fire and Maria/Easy Fires, Montecito Mudslides, as well as COVID-19. During four years of sustained disaster relief work, 805 UndocuFund has also become a trusted and familiar source of information and support for the immigrant community before, during and after disaster hits. Founded and supported by MICOP, CAUSE and Future Leaders of Americas – three trusted grassroot organizations in the immigrant community, 805 UndocuFund is now a 501 c(3) that is proud to mobilize resources when disaster hits the Central Coast region and to advocate for long-term systems change for undocumented communities in disaster. Learn more at 805undocufund.org

To donate to 805UndocuFund and learn more, please visit: 805undocufund.org/donate

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Helps Strengthen 805 UndocuFund’s Capacity to Respond to Disasters

805 UndocuFund is excited to announce that we have been awarded a $50,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation to help continue strengthening capacity for our trusted, proven, and culturally competent disaster relief model. Our work provides undocumented immigrant individuals and families who are impacted by disaster in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties an equitable opportunity to recover from disaster. Since the outbreak of COVID -19 in 2020, 805 UndocuFund has provided critical one-time cash relief to more than 4,000 households in our region.

“Undocumented individuals and families are excluded from federally funded financial disaster relief and safety net programs, “said Maria Melo, Executive Director of 805 UndocuFund. “Thanks to the support of the S. Mark Taper Foundation and other philanthropic partners who have come together to respond to the pandemic and other disasters that have hit our region, 805 UndocuFund has helped thousands of immigrant families and individuals in our community receive cash assistance to get through the crisis.”

Since its creation in 2018, the 805 UndocuFund has not only distributed over $8.3M to 6,147 families during disasters such as the Thomas Fire and Maria/Easy Fires, Montecito Mudslides, as well as COVID-19, but it has also become a trusted and familiar source of information and support for the immigrant community before, during and after disaster hits.  Founded and supported by MICOP, CAUSE and Future Leaders of Americas – three trusted grassroot organizations in the immigrant community -, 805 UndocuFund is proud to mobilize resources when disaster hits the Central Coast region, providing trusted short-term disaster response relief, and to advocate for long-term systems change for undocumented communities in disaster.

To support our work, please visit https://805undocufund.org/donate/

805UndocuFund Nombra Nueva Directora para Liderar Labores de Ayuda a Familias Indocumentadas en Casos de Desastre

VENTURA, 22 de septiembre de 2021 –  Con el fin de  responder a la destrucción y las pérdidas que han generado los incendios, la pandemia de COVID-19 y otros desastres ocurridas en las costa central de California, las organizaciones Proyecto de Organización Comunitaria Mixteca / Indígena (MICOP), la Alianza de la Costa Central Unidos por una Economía Sostenible (CAUSE) y  Líderes Futuros de América (FLA) -, con el apoyo de la Fundacion McCune, nombraron y dieron la bienvenida a Maria Melo como Directora Ejecutiva de 805UndocuFund, el cual es un esfuerzo colectivo de estas reconocidas organizaciones comunitarias para asegurar que las personas y familias indocumentadas afectadas por un desastre tengan el apoyo y los recursos necesarios para recuperarse de los desastres que ocurran en los condados de Ventura y Santa Bárbara. La organización Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) ofrece apoyo en la  recaudación y administración de fondos.

“Desde su creación en 2018, 805UndocuFund no solo ha distribuido más de $ 8,3 millones a 6,147 familias, sino que también se ha convertido en una fuente de apoyo confiable y reconocida entre la comunidad inmigrante indocumentada cuando ocurre un desastre”, dijo Genevieve Flores-Haro, presidenta de la junta de 805 UndocuFund. “Es por eso que estamos encantados de darle la bienvenida a María, quién estará encargada de continuar avanzando este trabajo. María es una profesional latina, bilingüe (inglés / español), bicultural e inmigrante con pasión por su comunidad y con más de 20 años de experiencia como defensora de políticas públicas en los sectores gubernamentales y el sector sin fines de lucro en Los Ángeles, Washington D.C. y América Latina”.

María llega a esta posición después de una larga trayectoria demostrando que conoce cómo reunir y accionar los socios y recursos correctos para avanzar las prioridades programáticas y políticas de las organizaciones con las que ha trabajado. Estas incluyen la Cruz Roja Americana de Los Ángeles, uno de los equipos regionales de asistencia humanitaria más grandes de la nación, y más recientemente, el Centro LGBT de Los Ángeles, el mayor proveedor de servicios específicos LGBT del mundo. Maria ha dedicado su carrera a traducir su pasión por la justicia social y el trabajo en resultados tangibles al servicio de comunidades marginadas.

“Es un hecho que el huracán Katrina y tantos desastres que le siguieron como el Thomas Fire, la pandemia de COVID-19 y el huracán Ida en la costa este, han subrayado que factores socioeconómicos como salarios bajos, barreras de acceso al idioma, un sistema de inmigración quebrado, así como viviendas frágiles y de alta densidad, aumentan el riesgo y la recuperación de comunidades afectadas”, dijo Maria Melo, Directora Ejecutiva de 805UndocuFund. “Estudios recientes y nuestra propia experiencia en la Costa Central demuestran que incluir a las comunidades de inmigrantes en la planificación para la preparación, mitigación y respuesta ante desastres es una prioridad. Mi meta es trabajar con los actores que hacen parte de este trabajo y con miembros de la comunidad de inmigrantes para que esto suceda y para avanzar el trabajo de 805UndocuFund.”

Originaria de Colombia, María vive con su esposa y sus hijas en Ventura, California, desde el año pasado. María también es la ex Cónsul de Colombia en Los Ángeles. Tiene una maestría en Relaciones Internacionales de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España, y más recientemente completó una beca con el Programa de Mújeres en Liderazgo de Southern California Coro. También es miembro de la junta de la Pacific Pride Foundation.

Para donar a 805UndocuFund y obtener más información, visite: https://805undocufund.org/donate/

New Director to Spearhead Disaster Relief Efforts for Ventura and Santa Barbara Immigrants 

VENTURA, September 20, 2021 — In response to the devastation of wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters,  Mixteco/Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP), the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), and Future Leaders of America (FLA)—, with leadership support provided by the McCune Foundation, appointed and welcomed Maria Melo as Executive Director of 805UndocuFund, a collective effort by these trusted community grassroot organizations to ensure that undocumented individuals and families impacted by disaster have the support and resources necessary to recover from disasters in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) is providing fundraising and fund administrative support.

“Since its creation in 2018, the 805UndocuFund has not only distributed over $8.3M to 6,147 families but has also become a trusted and familiar source of support for the immigrant community when disaster hits,” said Genevieve Flores-Haro, Board Chair of 805 UndocuFund. “That is why we are thrilled to welcome Maria to move this work forward. Maria is a bilingual (English/Spanish) and bi-cultural Latina immigrant policy advocacy professional who is passionate about her community and has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors in Southern California, Washington D.C. and Latin America.”

Maria has a proven track record bringing the right partners and resources together to advance the programmatic and policy priorities of organizations such as the Los Angeles American Red Cross, one of the largest regional American Red Cross teams in the nation, and most recently, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the largest provider of LGBT specific services in the world. Ms. Melo has dedicated her career to translating her passion for social justice and mission-driven work into tangible deliverables serving underserved communities.

“The fact is Hurricane Katrina and so many disasters that have followed—including the Thomas Fire, the COVID-19 pandemic and now Ida on the East Coast—have demonstrated that socio-economic factors such as low-wage jobs, language accessibility barriers, a broken immigration system, as well as fragile and high-density housing, increase risk and recovery,” said Maria Melo, Executive Director of 805UndocuFund. “Recent studies and our own lived experience show that including the Central Coast’s immigrant communities in planning for disaster preparation, mitigation, and response is essential. I look forward to working with key stakeholders and immigrant community members to make this happen and move 805UndocuFund’s disaster relief work forward.”  

Maria is also the former Deputy Consul for Colombia in Los Angeles. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, Spain, and more recently completed a fellowship with Southern California Coro’s Women in Leadership Program. She is also a board member at the Pacific Pride Foundation.  

To donate to 805UndocuFund and learn more, please visit: https://805undocufund.org/donate/