New name, same mission! LIRS is becoming Global Refuge. Learn more.

New name.
Same mission.

LIRS is now Global Refuge.

Welcoming newcomers since 1939.

See Our Evolution

The browser you are using is not supported. Please consider using a modern browser.

Skip Navigation
Donate
Start of main content.

News // Refugee Resettlement

Global Refuge Launches New American Cities Program with Support from ICONIQ Impact and Lever for Change

Global Refuge logo

Global Refuge Staff

May 14, 2021

Earlier this year, Global Refuge was recognized as one of the top five finalists for the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award, a funding opportunity created to support a brighter, more durable future for refugees. The organization’s proposed project, New American Cities, would provide an opportunity to rebuild for both new Americans and the cities they call home through economic empowerment, social mobility, and the promotion of diverse, inclusive communities.

The winners of the Award and additional grant funding were announced in May. Though it did not take home the top prize, Global Refuge’ New American Cities project received $1.25M in funding from donors in the ICONIQ network and beyond.

“We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to Lever for Change and ICONIQ Impact for the opportunity to compete for this award and for helping us raise the visibility of our New American Cities project,” said Andrew G. Steele, Vice President for Development and Outreach at Global Refuge. “We’re especially grateful to our funders, anonymous and otherwise, who have given us this investment and the ability to launch this transformative program. We truly believe that the New American Cities model can fundamentally change refugee resettlement in this country. This is just the beginning.”

New American Cities is a response to a fundamental problem in the refugee resettlement system. When refugees arrive in the US, they receive a few months of basic services, such as legal protection and job placement, designed to help them acclimate to a new country, new culture, and often a new language. But while these services are needed, they are woefully inadequate and do not sufficiently equip refugees to anticipate and navigate the systemic challenges to long-term economic and social inclusion that they will encounter in their new communities.

The proposed project builds upon Global Refuge’ New American Pathways (NAP) program, which was piloted in 2019 with the aim of bridging that gap. NAP was supported by the Walmart Foundation and provided career upskilling and advancement to refugees and other immigrants around the country, allowing them to move from survival jobs into meaningful careers.

One participant in the program was Julienne Nyirarwaka, a former refugee from Rwanda. When Julienne began the program, she had a job as a caregiver in a nursing home making about $8/hour. After working with a career navigation specialist through New American Pathways, she was able to secure a career as a Community Support Worker for pregnant women and new mothers, many of whom are former refugees themselves. Julienne now makes nearly $20/hour and, equally as important, feels a sense of fulfillment in her work.

“I started working with Carla, the program manager, and she helped me with the application. I was hesitating because of the language and because my bachelor’s degree was from Africa, but she helped me prepare, and that’s how I got this job, I’m so thankful to Global Refuge,” she said. “Now, I love my job because I’m helping moms with babies. When I came [to the U.S.], I had four children and it was so hard. Now, I get to help them be a mother and do what I know.”

As a result of the NAP pilot program, participants’ wages increased by an average of 62 percent. 81 percent of participants who were placed in jobs started in their career pathway, and 84 percent of participants placed in jobs were placed in upskilled positions.

The New American Cities program builds upon that success by including not only individualized career navigation services for refugees, but also connections to pathway builders who forge relationships between refugees and employers, expose training opportunities, and aim to address systemic barriers to advancement. The integration process is buttressed by a network of coalitions and champions who will challenge negative narratives about refugees and create opportunities for social connections at the workplace, in the neighborhood, and beyond.

“At Global Refuge, we understand that resettlement system in our country has its flaws and demands adjustment and, in some instances, revolutionizing,” said Global Refuge CEO Krish O’Mara Vignarajah. “We believe that New American Cities will allow us to change the lives of its refugee participants, fundamentally shift national and local narratives related to refugees, and create an innovative, inclusive framework that will assist thousands more refugees to come.

This investment affords us the chance to truly reimagine resettlement – to transform the system from offering refugees merely a chance to survive, to creating the pathways that allow them and the communities they live in to thrive.”

To learn more about how you or your foundation can support New American Cities, contact Global Refuge Corporate and Foundation Relations Specialist Leah Johnson at ljohnson@globalrefuge.org.

The Latest

  • Press Release

    February 23, 2024

    Global Refuge alarmed by Biden administration consideration of new asylum ban

    The Biden administration is considering executive action to further restrict asylum eligibility at the southern border for people who cross between official ports of entry.

    Read More
  • Press Release

    February 15, 2024

    HHS: Refugees & Asylees Generate $123.8 Billion Net Fiscal Benefit

    "This study demonstrates that refugee resettlement is firmly within our national interest, both in terms of maintaining our global humanitarian leadership and bolstering federal, state, and local resources."

    Read More
  • Press Release

    February 15, 2024

    White House Designates Deferred Enforced Departure for Palestinians

    "The DED designation offers much-needed support and protection to Palestinians living in our country at a time when their homeland is going through so much tumult. The ongoing conflict makes returning unsafe for the foreseeable future, so this decision demonstrates the Biden administration’s commitment to our nation being a global humanitarian leader during times of crisis.”

    Read More
  • Press Release

    February 4, 2024

    Senators announce bipartisan immigration legislation

    Global Refuge responds to bipartisan legislation concerning immigration policy, which has been tied to an emergency supplemental foreign assistance bill.

    Read More
  • Press Release

    January 29, 2024

    Global Refuge responds to President Biden statement on immigration negotiations

    Global Refuge is deeply troubled by President Biden’s statement on bipartisan senate negotiations concerning immigration policy, touting “a new emergency authority to shut down the border."

    Read More

Share