Aliento serves Arizona's undocumented, DACA students, and mixed-status families by transforming trauma into hope and action through arts + healing, leadership development, and ally engagement.
The lack of immigration status causes deep levels of stress and anxiety among children of mixed-status families and DACA/undocumented youth, and research shows stress and anxiety have long-lasting impacts on their mental health, wellbeing, and ability to focus on their education success. Often, educational institutions and policies don't acknowledge or support their unique experiences and needs.
Aliento concentrates their work around three pillars of support: addressing systemic educational barriers through protocol, policy, and training developing and empowering youth leadership; and broadening community and institutional awareness. This approach will result in children and youth who are undocumented or live in mixed status families being the leading voices of equitable solutions in their communities.
Aliento deeply believes that we must develop and empower youth who are most affected by our immigration policies so that our youth will thrive in our schools regardless of immigration status.
Reyna Montoya is a 2016 Soros Justice Fellow, a 2017 Echoing Green Fellow, a Forbes: 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur, and an ATHENA 2019 recipient by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce among many other awards.
Reyna was born in Tijuana, Mexico and migrated to Arizona in 2003 fleeing violence. She is an undocumented/DACAmented social entrepreneur, community organizer, educator, and dancer. She is a 2016 Soros Justice Fellow, which enabled her to start Aliento. She is also a founding member of the first Teach For America DACA Advisory Board. Reyna holds a bachelor’s degrees in political science and Transborder Studies and a Dance minor from Arizona State University; she also holds a M.Ed in Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University. She recently completed an executive education program from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has engaged in local, statewide, and national platforms to advance justice for immigrant communities. In 2013, she was the lead organizer who prevented an immigration bus of undocumented immigrants from deportation in Phoenix, AZ for the first time in the nation’s history. In the same year, with the help of the community, she stopped her father’s deportation. She was also recognized as 2017 #NBCLatino20 and the Muhammad Ali Center’s 2018 Humanitarian Recipient for Spirituality. She hopes to share her talents and skills with the community to co-create healing spaces, political change, and leadership development of our immigrant youth and migrant families.