At ECDC, we are led by individuals passionate about assisting refugees and immigrants due to their background and experience. We are the only national resettlement agency founded by an African. We are committed to empowering a network of similar organizations that are founded and/or led by former immigrants and refugees.
We envision a world where human rights are upheld, and people have an opportunity to live up to their full potential in safe and inclusive communities that respond effectively and fairly to the concerns and needs of their members.
To work towards our vision, we implement our mission of resettling and assisting refugees and immigrants to lead a life of dignity, attain self-sufficiency, and integrate successfully into their new communities in the U.S. while promoting education and equitable access to resources, opportunities, and services in Africa.
We are dedicated to improving the lives of those we serve and to treating all with passion, dignity, and respect.
We hold ourselves accountable and serve as transparent guardians of the public trust, maintaining the highest standards of honesty and professionalism.
We embrace and champion diversity in the workplace and among the people we serve.
We work together in partnership with organizations, and communities, recognizing the creative solutions and contributions they bring by coming together to take action.
We recognize that organizations and individuals with lived experiences and members of the wider community where refugees are settled have much to offer to resettlement and should be given the opportunity to contribute to decisions that may well affect them.
ECDC was founded in 1983 by Tsehaye Teferra, Ph.D., as a non-profit, community-based organization in Arlington, Virginia. As an Ethiopian immigrant, he remarked on how many Ethiopians were displaced due to the conflict and famine who made their way to the U.S. yet struggled with daily life tasks. ECDC was established to respond to the gaps he observed and address the needs of a growing Ethiopian community in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and across the United States.
In just a few years, we began thinking about how to help individuals who are in danger overseas escape and find safety in the United States. In 1991, ECDC became the first ethnic community-based organization authorized by the Department of State to resettle refugees through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. In addition to resettling newcomers around the D.C. Metro area, we partnered with local organizations to resettle refugees in Houston, Texas, and New York City, New York.
In 2001, after gaining experience with federally-funded resettlement, we opened a branch office in Denver, Colorado. We opened another branch office in Las Vegas, Nevada, a year later. These additional sites enabled us to expand our capacity, resettle a greater number of refugees, and offer various placement options to meet newcomers’ needs. New affiliate partners were also selected. As the years passed, additional programs were also added to expand the support ECDC was able to provide beyond initial resettlement.
Despite the significant fluctuation of refugee arrivals year to year, we have maintained a fairly consistent and robust affiliate network. At the start of 2021, we had 15 resettlement sites but added two new branch offices, in Wausau, Wisconsin, and Brattleboro, Vermont, as well as two new affiliate partner organizations by the end of the year. These new sites helped ECDC respond to the crisis in Afghanistan and resettle more than 7,000 Afghans across its network in a matter of months. We will continue expanding and innovating to meet the emerging needs.
Our leadership embodies the cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of the refugee communities we serve. At the national and local level, we specifically include former refugees and non-refugees on staff, who exemplify the success of United States resettlement.
As a non-profit organization, we rely on government grants and private funds to carry out our work. Stewardship of these funds is deeply important to us, and we hold ourselves and our affiliates accountable for proper fiscal management and high-quality programming.