Grants directed toward providing opportunities or support for immigrant, refugee and asylum-seeking populations and welcoming/receiving communities to connect and engage through programming and services that promote community support and unity.
ECDC African Community Center (ACC)
- $20,000 to support ACC’s resettlement programs, classes and activities to welcome, support and integrate 300-400 newly arrived refugees and individuals who arrived in previous years.
- ACC is a refugee resettlement agency providing comprehensive services to the Ethiopian population, as well as other refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers from around the world. Primarily focused around the principle of economic self-sufficiency, ACC provides case management and supportive services to assist program participants in securing employment and housing, registering for public benefits, navigating public transportation, enrolling children in public schools and accessing health care. In addition, ACC offers a First Friend program where program participants are paired with community volunteers to ensure opportunities to engage more meaningfully in community. Programs are designed to respond to specific and nuanced needs of the communities AAC serves, such as offering an all-woman ESL driving instruction class and expanding its women’s sewing project. Challenges continue to include caution in outreach and advertising ACC’s events and activities due to increased fear in the community regarding violence and hate incidents.
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
- $20,000 to support IRC’s psychosocial support program, Journey to Wellness, which provides strengths-based support for refugees facing cultural adjustment challenges as they strive to stabilize and integrate into the greater Denver community.
- The Journey to Wellness program allows participants to learn new ways to embrace their emotional and mental health and tap into the support they need to move forward. It also includes complementary programming that builds tangible skills to process trauma and manage stress. The IRC in Denver increasingly engages non-refugee immigrant populations who stand to benefit from these interventions, including survivors of torture, asylum seekers and others lacking legal status. Activities engage volunteers from the community to support facilitation, mentoring and skill-sharing. Currently, the office serves approximately 690 clients, including refugees, Special Immigrant Visa recipients, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, asylum seekers, immigrants, and primary and secondary survivors of torture. Congolese clients make up the largest percentage of the population, followed by Afghans, refugees from Myanmar (Burma), Somalis and Syrians.
Lutheran Family Services (LFS)
- $20,000 to support LFS’s Pamoja Women’s Integration Program (WIP), a community-informed project to empower refugee women to achieve success in their new communities by providing them with the resources and education needed in order to integrate into U.S. society.
- WIP was created with input from refugee women served by LFS and is designed for families that have attained a certain level of self-sufficiency and are ready to further their integration in the community. WIP participants are recruited from groups of refugee women who arrived in Denver primarily between two and five years ago. Countries of origin include Afghanistan, Burma, Kurdistan and Palestine. The program focuses on building bridges and friendships between refugee women and U.S. mentors and is designed to empower women to integrate and meet personal goals set with the help of their mentors (examples of current goals range from feeling safe to leave their home to improving their English, getting a job or going to college to become entrepreneurs).
Emily Griffith Foundation
- $15,000 to support career programs and services to immigrant and refugees at Emily Griffith Technical College (EGTC).
- Many immigrants and refugees come to the U.S. with significant experience in high-skill industries like engineering, IT and medicine, only to face barriers (language, education and credentialing systems, etc.) to reentering their previous field. The Career Aligned Refugee Education/Employment Readiness Services program at EGTC assists these people by providing one-on-one career counseling and navigation into a new career, as well as support for participants in accessing their career-of-origin. Helping refugees and immigrants secure jobs in these high-skill fields leads to greater economic security and integration into their new community. EGTC will also be piloting a program that will pair participants with mentors in their field for weekly meetings over three months. The program will also host quarterly networking and professional development programs and an annual career and resource fair. The program will educate Denver-area businesses and professionals about the value of hiring refugees and immigrants and best practices for creating an equitable workplace.
- $15,000 to support Intercambio’s Volunteer Taught ESL Classes/Support for Adult Immigrants.
- Intercambio’s vision is to ignite human potential by cultivating a world where people from different cultural backgrounds connect, communicate and engage. In FY 2020 Intercambio will provide 1,020 adult immigrants a culturally relevant ESL program using its own curriculum: Confidence & Connections: Adult ESL the Intercambio Way. The curriculum focuses on real life challenges and critical skills like employment and job search preparation, financial literacy, cultural skills, housing, health care, transportation, U.S. laws and police and participation in school systems. More than 500 volunteer English teachers and Conversation Team members are provided training classes, webinars, videos, idea-sharing gathers and individual support. Intercambio also hosts community events including camping, exercise classes and parties to promote and sustain connections. Volunteers learn about cross-cultural communication and students benefit from practicing new English skills with supportive conversation partners. After participating, volunteer teachers report better understanding of challenges and contributions of the immigrant community and that they have developed cross-cultural friendships.
- $15,000 to create and launch an Immigrant Artist Program (IAP).
- PlatteForum is a multi-disciplinary arts organization that has been working with marginalized populations in the Denver area for over 15 years, including immigrant, undocumented and refugee communities. PlatteForum is partnering with the New York Foundation for the Arts to bring the IAP program to Denver. This program, already operating in New York, Detroit, Newark, Oakland and San Antonio, offers immigrant artists the opportunity to focus their careers on their creative practice and gain support and exposure for their work while upholding their distinct cultural identities. IAP will offer a formal, intensive program focused on helping artists make a living wage through their art. Emerging foreign-born artists (up to 18 artists) will be able to participate in a local cohort of artists sharing the immigrant experience, use their art to explore and highlight social issues and benefit from entrepreneurial training and mentorship from local experienced artists.
City of Littleton Immigrant Resource Center (LIRC)
- $9,000 to support the English learning classes and tutoring to support immigrant, refugee and asylee populations’ integration into their local communities.
- LIRC serves immigrants on the pathway to citizenship using cultural exchange between staff, volunteers and immigrants to foster a more inclusive and integrated community. Located within Bemis Public Library, LIRC has helped immigrants for eleven years by providing immigration legal services, citizenship education and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and tutoring. Because of the recent shifts in policy and attitude toward immigration, many LIRC students and volunteers have expressed increased levels of stress and fear. LIRC’s ESL classes help to alleviate those concerns by helping immigrants gain skills and confidence to meaningfully engage in their community. Increased English proficiency generates greater social and fiscal gains for migrants, their families and communities.
Denver Public Library (DPL)
- $8,000 to support an additional day of Plaza programming – drop-in, inclusive family-friendly services and support designed for immigrants and refugees – at the Schlessman Family Branch, located in Denver’s Lowry Field neighborhood.
- Plaza programs remove barriers by offering family-friendly services and wraparound support. While designed for immigrants and refugees, Plaza programs welcome everyone, allowing newcomers and longtime community members the chance to create connections. Programming is inclusive, with no registration or identification required to participate. Plaza programs combat the isolation and fear felt by many new Americans by providing free access to resources, connection to social capital and a space for self-directed learning. The Schlessman Family Branch has seen a steady increase in the number of individuals and families participating in the program over the past year and DPL recognizes a need to expand programming to meet this growing demand – this funding would support four part-time activity leaders to help deliver an additional day of Plaza programming.
Montbello Organizing Committee (MOC)
- $8,000 to support increased staff time for a Community Engagement Specialist from the immigrant Latinx community to engage, build leadership capacity and encourage deeper neighborhood connections with the immigrant population in Montbello.
- Over the last two generations, Montbello shifted from being a predominantly African American community to a predominantly Latinx one, and increasingly, Latinx immigrant communities have been moving to the neighborhood. The African American and Latinx communities face similar challenges regarding a lack of access to health care, fresh food, and community spaces. Additionally, immigrant communities face additional barriers to neighborhood community engagement, with many afraid to access public services. A more intentional and cross-cutting approach is needed to create a stronger, more cohesive Montbello. Through the work of a Community Engagement Specialist, MOC seeks to make changes across organizations that will lead to greater participation by immigrants in the future of the Montbello neighborhood and encourage connection while honoring the cultural heritage and diversity of the community. The Community Engagement Specialist will focus on outreach and organizing within the immigrant community in Montbello, encouraging participation in ongoing organizing efforts around experienced disparities and allowing for immigrant voices to be heard in these spaces.