Federal dollars have flowed into Colorado to strengthen local capacity as newcomer arrivals increase
Denver, Colo. (Jan. 30, 2023) – The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has provided $5.6 million of funding to support programs and initiatives that address the needs of newly arrived Afghans and other ORR-eligible populations residing in Colorado.
The Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP) – a unit within the Colorado Department of Human Services – has partnered with Rose Community Foundation to create the Refugee Integration Fund to support eligible newcomers with services including mental health, legal and school-based assistance. CRSP received the federal support as part of federal fiscal year 2022 Continuing Resolution (HR5305) which included resources for government agencies to support the resettlement and integration of Afghans in Colorado.
“Colorado welcomes Afghans who bravely supported American forces, and this new federal funding builds upon our ongoing work to support newcomers as they build their lives here in Colorado,” said Governor Jared Polis. “From school-based support to mental health services, this important support is part of our work to build a Colorado for All.”
“As a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked closely with local interpreters and contractors. These men and women risked their lives for ours, and their bravery was critical to our safety and success of our mission,” said Congressman Jason Crow. “I’m glad to see Colorado leading the way in welcoming Afghan evacuee families to our communities, delivering the resources they need to start new lives. I’ll continue fighting in Congress to fulfill our promises to U.S. partners and protect Afghan evacuees.”
Over 3,000 Afghan evacuees have arrived in Colorado since August 2021. Other ORR-eligible arrivals were also at record highs in 2022, including Ukrainians and Cubans. Many of these individuals fled their homes under fear of persecution, and most, at a minimum, have disrupted careers and education and limited access to health and wellness services. Additionally, they are facing complex legal processes to establish permanency in Colorado. The Refugee Integration Fund aims to support Afghans and other ORR-eligible community members as they move from the initial resettlement phase to becoming established and thriving Coloradans.
“Colorado has a long history of welcoming refugees, immigrants, and others fleeing persecution,” says Noyes Combs, state refugee coordinator at CRSP. “Welcoming newcomers showcases our American values of humanitarianism and compassion and helps build a more vibrant, inclusive, and economically thriving state.”
A major focus of the grant support is providing linguistically and culturally responsive mental health services for ORR-eligible newcomers to Colorado. Many pre-migration and post-resettlement stressors may contribute to stress experienced by refugees. Funding will support organizations that offer mental wellness programs and opportunities for social engagement.
Additional dollars are allocated to help Afghan newcomers navigate the complex U.S. immigration system. Since most newly arrived Afghans have temporary legal status that expires after a period of time, helping individuals navigate available pathways for permanency in the U.S. is key to successful long-term integration.
Grantmaking will also support school districts that are welcoming newly arrived Afghan students, promoting successful community integration for children and families.
Colorado nonprofit organizations experienced in serving ORR-eligible individuals can apply for a grant from the Refugee Integration Fund through Feb. 7, 2023, on the Rose Community Foundation website.
The Colorado Refugee Services Program (CRSP) is a program of the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and is responsible for the statewide coordination of refugee resettlement. CRSP provides leadership, networking, monitoring, and systems navigation on behalf of refugees and the agencies that assist them. In partnership with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, other CDHS divisions, and counties in which refugees resettle, CRSP coordinates an array of services aimed at promoting refugee self-sufficiency and long-term integration.
Rose Community Foundation strives to advance inclusive, engaged and equitable Greater Denver communities through values-driven philanthropy. The Foundation envisions a thriving region strengthened by its diversity and generosity, and it utilizes the varied tools at its disposal – grantmaking, advocacy, donor engagement and philanthropic services – to advance this aspiration.