Refugee AmeriCorps Initiative

The Refugee AmeriCorps Initiative is a nationwide AmeriCorps program that was established in 2015 to assist with the integration and community engagement of refugees. This program is  managed by CWS and funded through a joint-private partnership between the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

In this partnership, ORR supports the placement of 11 AmeriCorps members at 10 CWS affiliated local resettlement agencies across the US. The CWS Refugee AmeriCorps Initiative expands the agency’s and the local communities’ ability to support refugees by placing an AmeriCorps member to administer the Preferred Communities Intensive Community Orientation (PC-ICO) program. The PC-ICO program supports refugee integration by enhancing mutual understanding between refugees and their new U.S. communities through intensive community orientation, an in-depth, interactive, location specific education program focused on the areas of housing and health to better support refugees in reaching long-term integration and self-sufficiency.

CWS Refugee AmeriCorps Member assists client in navigating US healthcare system.
Mackenzie, Columbus, Ohio

AmeriCorps member Mackenzie, center photo, above, shares why she serves in the AmeriCorps program at CWS’ Refugee AmeriCorps conference in January 2017.

One of my clients became pregnant shortly after arriving in the US as a refugee and was nervous about how to access prenatal care and have a healthy pregnancy here. Adjusting to life in a new country is hard for anyone, but this was another added layer of stress for this client. As part of the CWS Refugee Americorps Initiative, I was able to provide additional hours of community orientation to her and her husband about the US healthcare system, accessing healthcare resources, prenatal care, and infant safety practices. I helped her get set up with an OB/GYN that she liked, and followed up with her throughout and after her pregnancy to make sure she had all the skills and resources she needed to be successful and self-sufficient. I am inspired every day by the resilience of my clients in the face of uncertainty and their drive to provide healthy, safe homes for their families.

Click here to meet all of our AmeriCorps Members in Service

During 2016, Refugee AmeriCorps members:

  • Recruited and trained 36 on-going volunteers
  • Provided 268.50 hours of group ICO and 136.25 hours of one-on-one ICO to 121 clients in the areas of housing, health and/or employment. This is an average of 3.34 hours per client.
  • Of the 31 individuals who participated in housing ICO, 72% (24 individuals) demonstrated improve understanding of housing topics.
  • Of the 37 individuals who participated in employment ICO, 87% (33 individuals) demonstrated improved understanding of employment topics.
  • Of the 33 individuals who participated in health ICO, 70% (23 individuals) demonstrated improved understanding of health topics.
  • Built partnerships with 13 different community partners including service provides, non-profit agencies, landlords, volunteers and businesses.
  •  Members created 31 resources, including ICO curriculums, PowerPoints, informational materials etc., to support ICO programming.

Impact Snapshot

Recently, a client’s tenancy was terminated by a landlord who wants to sell the client’s home. Through the Refugee AmeriCorps Program, the local AmeriCorps member was able to educate the client on how to find new housing by teaching her the best ways identify, schedule and setup home viewing appointments. Furthermore, the member was able to assist the client in viewing homes and how to talk to a landlord and review a lease. In total, the member was able to provide an additional 14 hours of support to this client. The client was able to find a home for her and her family, and feels more confident in her abilities to do so in the future.

Thank you for your interest in the Refugee AmeriCorps program. Applications are closed for the 2017-2018 service year. Information regarding the 2018-2019 service year will be made available during the first half of 2018.