Vanguardia Afirmativa de Latin@s Unidos (VALU) is an after-school program that creates a space for Latino high school students to engage in dialogue and interaction with the campus community at DeKalb High School. Founded in 2007, VALU has created a safe space for students to express their culture, issues and break stereotypes. VALU has worked on community projects such as the creation of two Little Free Libraries, Feed My Starving Children and collaborated with NIU students to host and advertise Deferred Action workshops. Additionally, VALU has hosted multiple speakers to empower students; one notable presentation dealt with reclaiming the Latin@ indigenous heritage. Lastly, VALU students felt safe to share their family’s story with their peers; an emotionally challenging yet powerful experience.
VALU has grown to more than 25 members since its inception in 2007. Thus, effective leaders are needed to guide further growth and help mentor student-driven initiatives.