Jakara Movement

Golden State Opportunity Community Connect Grantee Jakara Movement’s focus is simple: building up the Punjabi and Sikh community of Fresno and connecting them with valuable resources to succeed and prosper.

Jakara Movement sees their mission as “A call to the next generation of Punjabis and Sikhs from all places, backgrounds, and points of view to reflect on our past and prepare for our future.” Since its establishment in 2000, the organization has been instrumental in giving Punjabi and Sikh youth in Fresno a voice and a stake in building up their community. Today, it stands as an institution for the recruitment and training of volunteers and a hub for the Punjabi Sikh Californian youth, empowering them to make a significant difference in their world.

Much of that involves promoting good use of resources available to community members, including free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and beneficial tax credits like the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and Young Child Tax Credit.

Jakara Movement“I think within our communities, many people don’t use services like VITA because there is no trust that’s been built,” said Domenica Lopez, Jakara Movement Program Manager. “We get a lot of questions in terms of if it’s really free and if it’s free how good could it be? Since we are a trusted organization, we wanted to use the trust we’ve gained to promote this program. It is as reliable as going to a tax preparer. That $100 dollars or whatever they would spend on a tax preparer is a big burden, so letting them know that there is a 100 percent reliable free service they can use is a big deal.”

While the Jakara Movement doesn’t directly offer tax preparation services, it does connect people in its communities to VITA preparers and spread the word about tax credits for which they may be eligible. It has also begun to do more outreach to Spanish speakers and the Sikh community about ITIN and how to get an ITIN and work toward citizenship.

Jakara Movement’s community outreach extends to various areas. They advocate for workers’ rights and address the issue of the caste system in the community. They also organize events and groups for Sikh and Punjabi youth in Fresno, including leadership-focused conferences and advocacy opportunities. Their services span from rental assistance programs to career and leadership development, demonstrating their commitment to holistic community development.

“It’s all about information,” said Lopez. “It’s so rewarding to let someone know about a resource or money they could get back and see them go and spread that information to friends and neighbors and family. We want to help them alleviate some burdens.”

Learn more about Jakara Movement and the work they do at jakara.org.


By Jamie Servantes