The Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, La Casa Cultural and the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies have established a new fund to promote innovative solutions to immigration issues in the United States.

The new Critical Innovation Fund will provide five awards of $1,500 each to teams that must include at least one Yale student. Projects can take a variety of forms, including events, educational campaign, technological innovations or storytelling projects. The organizations held an information session on Wednesday at La Casa to introduce the new fund.

“Tsai CITY’s mission is to bring diversity together to address real-world challenges, and we’re in a climate in the U.S. where there are a lot of people facing very difficult situations in relation to immigration,” said Cassandra Walker Harvey, the managing director of Tsai CITY. “Tsai CITY wants to be able to help address critical issues as they are coming up in our society.”

Wednesday’s information session began with an introduction by Eileen Galvez, the director of La Casa and an assistant dean of Yale College. She described the significance of the fund, explaining why students should be thinking about innovative ways to address the immigration challenges the U.S. faces today.

Walker Harvey outlined the logistics of the fund, which has a Nov. 15 deadline, and offered advice on writing successful proposals. The funding can go toward time spent working on the project, materials, travel for research or other project-related costs.

Interdisciplinary teams across Yale and New Haven are eligible to apply, as long as each team has at least one Yale student. Additionally, preference will be given to teams who have lived experience with the challenge they choose to address and teams that focus on New Haven-based issues.

The information session ended with an interactive ideation session, termed a “Spark Session,” in which students developed initial ideas and received feedback from Tsai CITY staff.

The fund aims to support students who have begun to develop innovative solutions to immigration challenges, such as individual student campaigns and organizations like the Asylum Seekers Assistance Project and the Connecticut Bail Fund, according to Walker Harvey.

“There are many students that are taking action on this topic in an innovative way, and we want to provide funding, space, mentorship and resources for students to continue to think about their ideas,” she said.

The projects, which will be judged by a panel of five alumni and community members, will be evaluated on whether they address an immigration challenge, how innovative they are, whether they support underrepresented voices and how they connect to other immigration challenges.

According to Walker Harvey, the center hopes that the collaboration with La Casa and the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies will help improve the diversity of entrepreneurship at Yale.

“Tsai CITY is really committed to dispelling the perception of entrepreneurship and innovation and is excited to work with the cultural centers to build a diverse and inclusive community around that,” she said.

The innovation hub will hold several workshops leading up to the deadline for students to receive additional feedback from Tsai CITY.

Amy Xiong |