ECDC was established in 1983 as a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) community-based organization to respond to the needs of a growing Ethiopian community, both in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and around the United States. However, since its founding, ECDC has served newcomers from diverse cultural backgrounds from many parts of the world.
ECDC is a National Voluntary Agency, authorized by the Department of State, to resettle refugees. ECDC works locally, regionally, and nationally. ECDC's program of public education seeks to increase awareness within the wider community and among mainstream organizations about issues of concern to the newcomer community in general and to African refugees and immigrants in particular. As a national voice, ECDC brings an African perspective to issues that affect African refugees here and in Africa.
ECDC works closely with both the private and public sectors and has a broad base of financial support, which is derived from corporations, foundations, individual contributions, in-kind donations, religious institutions, and contracts and grants from federal, state, and local government agencies. ECDC is a member of InterAction and the Refugee Council USA.
In the 1980s, ECDC concentrated on bridging the gaps in mainstream services for newcomers. During the 1990s, ECDC expanded organizationally and programmatically to meet the needs of the African community. In 1991, ECDC inaugurated a national refugee resettlement program that operates through a network of African CBOs located across the United States. A micro-enterprise development project, launched in 1992, grew into an independent program center and was incorporated in 2001 as a subsidiary, the ECDC Enterprise Development Group.
Today, ECDC continues to develop programs that respond to the needs of newcomers to the country and to increase awareness about refugee and newcomer issues at home and abroad.