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.