Press Releases

ECDC JOINS WITH ‘OPENING UNIVERSITIES FOR REFUGEES’ TO LAUNCH OUR-U.S. AND ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH ‘EVERY CAMPUS A REFUGE’ (ECAR)

Arlington, Va. – The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) is launching a new initiative with Opening Universities for Refugees (OUR). ECDC OUR – U.S. will support ECDC’s affiliate network to expand university and college engagement in refugee resettlement in their respective local communities. The initiative has grown out of ECDC’s recent work to establish a national co-sponsorship program and OUR’s success in increasing access to tertiary education for refugees in the Asia Pacific region over the past five years.

“Launching OUR in the U.S. through ECDC is a wonderful and timely opportunity. I look forward to bringing our experiences from the Asia Pacific region to the U.S. context during this critical time and to join the ECDC Team,” said Dr. Gül İnanç, founder of OUR. “The collaboration brings together ECDC’s long-standing history of resettling refugees and their existing resettlement network with OUR’s experience, expertise, global partnerships, and success in engaging universities in refugee education.”

ECDC’s OUR-U.S. will build partnerships with universities to meet immediate resettlement needs through co- sponsorship programs and ultimately increase access to tertiary education for refugees in the U.S. as well as create opportunities to privately sponsor refugee students abroad who are approved for resettlement.

OUR-US’s first initiative is to partner with Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR). ECAR has been working since 2015 to advocate for, and demonstrate how universities can temporarily house refugees and assist with their resettlement into the local community. Moving forward, OUR-U.S. and ECAR will provide coordinated training and support to ECDC’s affiliate network to help them establish university co-sponsorship programs.

“I’m thrilled with the approach ECDC has taken to lead the way in supporting its network to engage universities from a coordinated, national-level,” said Dr. Diya Abdo, Director, and Founder of ECAR. “I look forward to working closely with ECDC’s local offices and their university and college partners in the coming weeks and months to respond to the needs of our Afghan allies. Together, we can leverage existing campus resources while providing a powerful opportunity for civic engagement to the campus and its communities.”

About ECDC

ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of the nine national resettlement agencies directly funded by the Department of State. ECDC has been resettling refugees since 1991 and works with a network of affiliate organizations around the country to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society. For more information, visit www.ecdcus.org.

 

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ECDC HIRES DIRECTOR FOR NEW BRANCH OFFICE IN WAUSAU, WISCONSIN

Arlington, Va. — The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) is pleased to announce Adam VanNoord as the Director of the Multicultural Community Center it plans to establish in Wausau, Wisconsin. In September, ECDC received authorization from the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to begin resettling refugees in Wausau, Wis. and hiring the Director marks an important milestone on the journey to start welcoming newcomers in this new location.

Mr. VanNoord comes to ECDC with more than a decade of work experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. Adam started his career in graphic design then later chose to pursue international humanitarian work. For five years, Adam worked as the Field Director with Not Forgotten International, a Wisconsin-based non-profit serving refugees in Southwest Algeria. Through this experience, Adam discovered his passion for leading diverse teams and facilitating cross-cultural exchange to promote understanding and empathy. Adam is currently earning a Master’s of Social Work degree and completing his practicum with Peaceful Solutions Counseling as part of his coursework.

“As a local resident of Wausau, Adam has knowledge and connections that will be greatly beneficial in bringing the community together to ensure the success of the refugee resettlement program. His personal experience working with refugees in the international context will help him act as a bridge for both refugees and community members alike,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC’s President and CEO. “In addition, Adam’s recent training in case management combined with his administrative, technology, communications, and leadership skills make him well suited to this role.” In his new position, Adam will be responsible for coordinating with community stakeholders and preparing to meet the needs of refugees related to employment, affordable housing, health care, and education as well as broader participation in the community’s civic life.

“Welcoming and partnering with refugees who are seeking to establish and rebuild their lives is a long standing tradition in our country. I’m eager to see this tradition continue here in Wausau, as it has with the Hmong- American community,” said Adam. “It’s is an honor and privilege to step into this new role with ECDC and be responsible for collaborating effectively with community partners and stakeholders as we tailor and improve upon existing services and engage local volunteers in the act of welcoming through ECDC’s co-sponsorship program. I expect to be challenged, but I know it will be rewarding, too.” Adam will begin work on October 25.

About ECDC

ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of the nine national resettlement agencies directly funded by the Department of State. ECDC has been resettling refugees since 1991 and works with a network of affiliate organizations around the country to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society. For more information, visit www.ecdcus.org.

 

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ECDC APPLAUDS LEGISLATION PROVIDING FUNDING FOR AFGHAN ARRIVALS

Arlington, Va. – Yesterday the FY 2022 Continuing Resolution (HR5305) was passed into law, which not only prevented a government shutdown but also included $6.3 billion for Afghans at-risk who have been granted entry to the U.S. on humanitarian parole. The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), as one of nine national refugee resettlement agencies serving these individuals through the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program, is grateful for this legislative action, which will enable participants of the APA program to receive the same benefits as other refugees coming through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

The funding for government agencies included in the resolution will allow them to serve Afghan arrivals with essential children and family services as well as medical support. Access to these benefits as well as expedited asylum processing and eligibility for driving licenses, which the legislation provides, is a critically important step towards ensuring our Afghan allies, many of whom left suddenly and with nothing, have a chance at stability as they rebuild their lives in the U.S.

“We are pleased that the federal government has stepped up to fulfill its promise to the Afghans who have supported us,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC’s President and CEO. “However, there is still more work to be done. We are now calling for Congress to pass an Afghan Adjustment Act to ensure that the pathway to legal permanent residency is clear and expeditious. We must do all we can to make the process smooth and successful for our Afghan allies who have already been through considerable trauma and hardship to reach safety.” Without this legislative fix, processing asylum for all eligible Afghans will overwhelm the system, which is already backlogged and inefficient.

ECDC appreciates the leadership of U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy, Jeff Merkley, and Jeanne Shaheen, and U.S. Representatives Seth Moulton, Don Bacon, and Zoe Lofgren who made the resolution’s passage possible and calls upon them to continue working for additional legislative solutions to better serve our Afghan allies.

 

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ECDC APPROVED TO BEGIN REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT IN WAUSAU, WISCONSIN

Arlington, Va. — The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) is pleased to have received authorization from the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) to begin resettling refugees in Wausau, Wis. The full proposal and budget have not yet been approved, but in a cost extension of its FY21 agreement, PRM has given ECDC approval to move forward with its plans to open its Multicultural Community Center in Wausau. With this approval, ECDC may also include Wausau in its resettlement of Afghans through the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program. Nationwide, from now through March 2022, ECDC plans to resettle 3,100 Afghans through the APA program through its network of 17 resettlement sites.

To prepare for the start of refugee resettlement in Wausau, ECDC maintains regular contact with local and state service providers, is actively recruiting a Director for its Multicultural Community Center, and is raising funds to hire local staff. As soon as staff are in place, ECDC will work with community partners to prepare for and serve the first arrivals, which could be 10 or more individuals before December. Building on this experience, the program plans to receive 75 more individuals from January through September 2022. “ECDC’s proposal to resettle refugees in Wausau has been driven by the community’s interest in welcoming newcomers. We will continue to work closely with community stakeholders to establish the program and welcome the first arrivals,” said Jessica Chapman, ECDC’s Director of Community Engagement. “Our goal is to ensure each family has the support they need to make Wausau their home, and we hope to do that by pairing families with co-sponsorship teams.”

Based in Wausau, Gwendolyn Paul has joined ECDC’s team as a volunteer co-sponsorship coordinator, and she will be working to mobilize co-sponsorship teams in the coming month. Community members may sign up to learn more about ECDC’s co-sponsorship program at https://www.ecdcus.org/community-sponsorship/. Community members interested in learning more about the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and ECDC’s plans to open a local office in Wausau are invited to attend a public education event, scheduled for Thursday, October 7, from 6:00-7:30 PM. The link to register for this virtual event can be found at https://newbeginningswi.org/. New Beginnings is a new, local organization made up of community members who are interested in volunteering their time, mobilizing resources, and educating the public to support the success of ECDC’s refugee resettlement program in Wausau.

About ECDC
ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of the nine national resettlement agencies directly funded by the Department of State. ECDC has been resettling refugees since 1991 and works with a network of affiliate organizations around the country to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society. For more information, visit www.ecdcus.org.


ECDC AWARDED GRANT FROM THE COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP CATALYST FUND

Arlington, Va. — The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) is pleased to be one of three national resettlement agencies selected to receive a $250,000 grant from the Community Sponsorship Hub, which will be used to launch a national co-sponsorship program. The program will be led by ECDC’s Community Engagement Department and provide training and technical assistance to 10 affiliates as they design and implement co-sponsorship programs. ECDC’s African Community Centers in Denver and the DC Metro Area were previously awarded grants from the Catalyst Fund to develop and pilot a co-sponsorship program. This new funding will enable ECDC to build on the learning and progress made at these two locations and expand the capacity of its network to engage community sponsors in the U.S. resettlement program.

In addition to funding ECDC’s national program, its new Multicultural Community Center in Brattleboro, Vermont was also selected to receive a local-level grant of $100,000 to launch a co-sponsorship program. Similarly, two of ECDC’s affiliates, Della Lamb Community Services in Kansas City, Missouri, and North Carolina African Services Coalition in Greensboro, North Carolina were awarded local-level grants.

“This funding comes at a critical moment when resettlement agencies are about to receive large numbers of Afghan allies and the American public has shown incredible interest in getting involved to support their welcome and integration,” said Jessica Chapman, ECDC’s Director of Community Engagement. “We are optimistic that we can use this opportunity to engage community members deeply in the work of resettlement and create more welcoming communities across the country. We are also very grateful to those involved in establishing the Community Sponsorship Catalyst Fund, and for their decision to invest in ECDC’s vision to introduce and significantly expand the use of co-sponsorship across the organization’s resettlement network.”

Co-sponsorship is a form of community sponsorship whereby community members organize themselves into teams and assist the local resettlement agency in providing the services that newcomers need and orienting them to their new community and culture. Co-sponsorship teams not only welcome and mentor the family they are matched with, but they also fundraise and collect in-kind donations to help meet the family’s basic needs. Co-sponsorship benefits newcomers and community members alike by creating friendships, increasing two-way understanding, strengthening support networks, and building positive attitudes. The co-sponsorship program also provides newcomers with longer-lasting support than what a resettlement agency can provide alone.

About ECDC

ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of the nine national resettlement agencies. ECDC has been resettling refugees since 1991, working with a network of affiliate organizations around the country. The mission of ECDC is to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society who receive support from and ultimately contribute to their local communities. For more information, visit www.ecdcus.org.

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Media Contact: Emily Gilkinson, EGilkinson@ecdcus.org
Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.
901 S. Highland St. ▪ Arlington, Virginia 22204 ▪ Tel. (703) 685-0510 ▪ Fax (703) 685-0529
Empowering refugees and immigrants since 1983


ECDC SUPPORTS AFGHAN ARRIVALS AT ALL ITS RESETTLEMENT SITES

Arlington, Va. — The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) responded to the Department of State’s request for resettlement agencies to participate in its Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) program, which launched September 1. ECDC has been approved to resettle 3,100 individuals across its network of branch offices and affiliated organizations in 15 cities across the country. ECDC has been resettling Special Immigrant Visa holders from Afghanistan at several network locations for many years and is experienced in welcoming and integrating this population.

The APA program is designed to serve certain Afghan nationals who were highly vulnerable following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and granted legal entry into the United States through humanitarian parole. Many of these individuals have already arrived in the country on evacuation flights, and others are still in a third country awaiting entry. The Department of Defense is providing temporary housing and initial services such as medical screenings and work authorization applications to more than 50,000 Afghan nationals at eight Safe Havens at military bases around the country. After completing processing at the Safe Haven, individuals are assigned to a refugee resettlement agency, such as ECDC, which is participating in the APA program. ECDC then arranges placement with one of its local affiliates that will assist individuals and families with the initial steps of rebuilding their lives in the United States. The local affiliate office, together with community partners, will secure housing and basic necessities during the first 30-90 days as well as provide cultural orientation, assistance enrolling in education programs, legal assistance to change their immigration status, employment services, and other referrals as needed by families enrolled in the program.

“ECDC is pleased to play this role to support the United States in fulfilling its moral obligation to protect its Afghan Allies,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC’s President and CEO. “We have been impressed with how enthusiastically our affiliates have responded to the challenge of this moment. We are working closely with our government partners and sister resettlement agencies to build on our experience and innovate to meet the unprecedented need.”

The APA program runs through March 2022, but ECDC expects to resettle 2,200 or more arrivals before the end of December. “Due to the large number of arrivals that are expected in a short period of time, creative contributions from community partners at all levels is required to ensure successful short- and long-term outcomes for newly arriving families,” said Jessica Chapman, ECDC’s Director of Community Engagement. “We encourage individuals, businesses, community groups, and service providers to reach out to the resettlement agency nearest them with offers of support.” The greatest needs are cash contributions, housing options, furniture donations, and employment opportunities.

Contact information for ECDC’s network of affiliates can be found at https://www.ecdcus.org/about-us/our-  locations/. Agency names and locations are included below:

 

About ECDC

ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of the nine national resettlement agencies and has been resettling refugees since 1991, working with a network of affiliate organizations around the country. The mission of ECDC is to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society who receive support from and ultimately contribute to their local communities. For more information, visit  www.ecdcus.org.

Media Contact: Emily Gilkinson, EGilkinson@ecdcus.org

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ECDC HIRES DIRECTOR FOR NEW BRANCH OFFICE

 

Arlington, Va. — After careful consideration and community consultations, The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) proposed Brattleboro, Vermont as a new refugee resettlement site in its annual funding proposal to the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) for the Refugee Admissions Program. With generous support from the Shapiro Foundation and Braden-Harder & Lawrence Harder Charitable Fund, ECDC has been able to hire Joe Wiah as the Director of the Multicultural Community Center it plans to establish.

Mr. Wiah comes to ECDC with more than a decade of experience in the non-profit sector serving vulnerable populations both in Vermont and internationally in Africa. Most recently, Joe was a Housing Case Manager for Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) in Brattleboro, through which he helped Vermonters from 15 towns within Windham County access housing, fuel, food, and home repair services. Prior to that, Joe worked for Pathways-DC and Pathways Vermont, providing needed services to clients struggling with mental health issues or returning to communities after time in prison. Internationally, Joe’s work focused on creating legislation, policies, and programs that contributed to the disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration of child soldiers in Liberia.

“Joe is an excellent person for this role because he is well-versed in the social service system of Vermont as well as international circumstances and environments which create the need for refugee resettlement,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, ECDC’s President and CEO. “His personal compassion and commitment to helping those in need combined with his budgeting, strategic planning, and grant management skills are will ensure that our Brattleboro program is successful.” In his new role, Mr. Wiah will be responsible for coordinating with community stakeholders and preparing to meet the needs of refugees related to employment, affordable housing, medical care, education, etc. as well as broader participation in the community’s civic life.
Mr. Wiah is originally from Liberia and holds a Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management from SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. “As someone with firsthand experience being welcomed as a newcomer in Vermont, it is a privilege to have been chosen by ECDC to serve as that bridge to connect our new neighbors to our community,” said Joe. “I am excited to join this community of experienced professionals, and look forward to working with all local, regional, and state partners to collectively make this dream a reality.” Joe will commence his employment on September 20.
About ECDC

ECDC, based in Arlington, Va., is one of nine national resettlement agencies that has been resettling refugees since 1991, working with a network of 15 affiliate organizations around the country. The mission of ECDC is to empower refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated members of American society who receive support from and ultimately contribute to their local communities.

For more information, visit   https://www.ecdcus.org.

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Media Contact: Emily Gilkinson, EGilkinson@ecdcus.org


ECDC PROPOSES TO OPEN A NEW BRANCH OFFICE

 

Arlington, Va. — After careful consideration and community consultations, The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) proposed Wausau, Wisconsin as a new refugee resettlement site in its funding proposal to the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) for the Reception and Placement (R&P) Program for FY 2022. The proposal has been submitted and ECDC expects to be notified if its proposal is accepted at the end of summer/early fall. If the proposal is approved, ECDC would open a branch office in Wausau and begin resettling refugees from October 2021 onward. ECDC facilitated discussion with local leaders and community stakeholders in May around the needs of newly arriving refugees and the role the community would be expected to play to support their integration. As a result of the discussion, a target of welcoming 75 refugees to the city in FY 2022 was proposed. Individuals and families would not all arrive at the same time but rather come over the course of the year.

ECDC based in Arlington, Va., is one of nine national resettlement agencies that has been resettling refugees since 1991, working with a network of 15 affiliate organizations around the country. When ECDC considers opening a new site for refugee resettlement, it undertakes a thorough review process to examine multiple factors which are required for effective resettlement and integration. This includes assessing the availability and capacity of the local systems which will be required to meet the ongoing needs of refugees related to employment, affordable housing, medical care, education, etc. as well as broader participation in the community’s civic life. Hearing from community members and local leaders about the opportunities and limitations in their community is a critical part of the review process. After conducting community consultations in Wausau, ECDC’s Director of Community Engagement remarked, “It was inspiring to see so many community stakeholders, across sectors, turn up to show their support for welcoming refugees to their community. Based on our visit, it seems clear that Wausau has a strong network of service providers that work together to meet the needs of their community and dedicated community members who want to make their community welcoming and who recognize the economic and diversity benefit that newcomers bring with them.”

In preparation for the possibility that the proposed plan is accepted, ECDC is continuing to engage with community stakeholders and take preliminary steps that will facilitate a smooth process to open an office and launch the program. This will include hiring local staff, including a Director and a team of Case Managers responsible for delivering the program. Successful refugee welcome and integration, however, also depends on the participation of local service providers, businesses, and community groups as co-sponsors. Therefore, ECDC intends to continue engaging in community conversations throughout the program and continuously find better ways to ensure that the resettlement process is mutually positive and that refugees become contributing members of the local community.

 

 

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                                   Media Contact: Emily Gilkinson, EGilkinson@ecdcus.org


ECDC Applauds Biden Administration’s Decision to Increase the Refugee Admissions Cap

Arlington, Virginia—Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced an increase to the Refugee Admissions Cap. The revised Presidential Determination sets the cap at 62,500 slots–up from the historic low of 15,000 set by the previous administration.

ECDC appreciates President Biden’s decision to increase the admissions cap for FY 2021. Doing so not only will help the thousands of refugees who had already been vetted and approved for travel but also return faith in the United States as a global leader in refugee resettlement. ECDC will continue to advocate for President Biden to keep his promise to build a more inclusive and welcoming America and fulfill his pledge to resettle 125,000 refugees next fiscal year.

Tsehaye Teferra, Ph.D., president of ECDC, said, “We have been ready for months to begin the resettlement of those who were prevented by the previous administration from coming to this great nation. Today, we see the glimmer of hope that our work will begin, and the hopes of those refugees will finally begin to be realized. He also expressed his hope that refugees will again be able to be referred by NGOs, U.S. Embassies, UNHCR, all of which are important partners in this important work.”

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ECDC’s mission is to resettle refugees, promote cultural, educational, and socio-economic development in the refugee and immigrant community in the United States, and conduct humanitarian and development programs in the Horn of Africa. For more information about ECDC, please visit our website www.ecdcus.org.


ECDC Statement in Support of the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act

 

Arlington, Virginia – The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) urges members of Congress to support and pass the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act was introduced last night in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) tomorrow.

It has been 41 years since the signing of the bipartisan Refugee Act of 1980, establishing the United States refugee resettlement program. Since then, the U.S. has resettled over three million refugees. Under the previous ministration, the resettlement program admissions was reduced to 15,000—the lowest number since the program began. The GRACE Act will give Congress more oversight of the resettlement program’s operations and set the annual refugee admissions number at a minimum of 125,000. This is a crucial step towards restoring and protecting the United States refugee resettlement program.

The president will still be able to set the determination above 125,000 if he/she chooses to do so.

Tsehaye Teferra, Ph.D., President of ECDC, one of the country’s nine national resettlement agencies, said, “I urge members of Congress to support the GRACE Act to ensure the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program can and will be responsive in meeting the needs of the global refugee crisis. This legislation demonstrates that the U.S. is committed to doing its part as a global humanitarian leader.”

In supporting the GRACE Act, the United States will reestablish its global legacy in helping people who have escaped persecution and violence yet still face unknown futures. ECDC urges bipartisan support of this important legislation that will also restore America’s reputation as a nation of welcome and opportunity.

 

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ECDC’s mission is to resettle refugees, promote cultural, educational, and socio-economic development in the refugee and immigrant community in the United States, and conduct humanitarian and development programs in the Horn of Africa. For more information about ECDC, please visit our website www.ecdcus.org.