Special Projects and Initiatives
What We Do
We implement activities to educate, advocate, uplift, and give back to causes that affect refugees and immigrants.
In addition to our core programming, we seek private funds that enable us to undertake special activities that will empower immigrants and refugees to be heard and seen and affect change in different ways.
Some of the projects we have undertaken recently include:
- Refugee integration in Virginia: With support from Virginia Humanities, we interviewed and photographed five refugees and five community members who continue to be actively engaged in supporting newcomers about their experiences. Their reflections shed light on the two-way integration process, and listening to their voices helps build empathy for the complexity of successful integration. This project culminated in an event whereby “taking portraits” were displayed. Audio clips and photos are also available online.
- Wider Welcome: With support from Open Society Foundations, we developed a toolkit and training guide to assist refugee resettlement agency staff think critically about how to engage diverse groups, including those with immigrant and refugee backgrounds, as volunteers and community sponsors. We pilot-tested this approach by training staff from 8 local offices, supporting them to create action plans for outreach, and following up to share experiences around what was successful in overcoming barriers that non-traditional groups face to getting involved. This is a long-term change process and approach that we are still implementing.
- Rethinking refugee integration outcomes: In collaboration with Refugee Council USA and Refugee Congress, we undertook a year-long research project to explore what factors contribute to successful integration in the U.S. from the perspective of refugees and asylum seekers. Primary data were collected through six focus group discussions with six to seven participants each. The findings were analyzed and organized into recommendations for what resettlement actors can do to improve integration outcomes.
In addition to education and advocacy actions domestically, throughout the years, we have also carried out various humanitarian projects in the Horn of Africa. For example, most recently, we co-sponsored the establishment of an Education and Wellness Center, together with the Health Professions Network for Tigray, in Tenedba Refugee Camp in eastern Sudan. This newly constructed facility now offers mental health services, computer literacy classes, sports, and other wellness activities, among other services for individuals in the camp.
We also continue to run the Axumite Heritage Library and support the improvement and expansion of the Meseret Teferra primary and secondary schools, all public facilities dedicated to educating and advancing opportunities for the local community in Ethiopia. The primary school was constructed and equipped with support from ECDC in the mid-1990s and turned over to the government. The secondary school was a more recent construction project that started in 2018. This project has been paused due to the current war in Ethiopia, but we stand ready to resume when it is appropriate to do so.
With our international projects, we aim to improve the well-being and opportunities for communities negatively affected by natural disasters, humanitarian crises, or conflicts so that those who remain have hope for a better future.
Please get in touch with us if you are interested in collaborating with us on a special project that aligns with our mission.