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.
2016-2017 Refugee AmeriCorps members
2016-2017 Refugee AmeriCorps members served April, 2016 – October, 2017 at 11 local operating sites throughout the CWS network. These 11 members:
- Provided housing, health and/or employment Intensive Community Orientation to 1,008 refugees, assisting them in integrating into their local communities and helping them reach self-sufficiency.
- 76% of clients who conclude a housing ICO program demonstrated improved understanding of housing topics.
- 75% of clients who concluded a health ICO program demonstrated improved understanding of health topics
- 88% of clients who concluded an employment ICO program demonstrated improved understanding of employment topics.
- Provided over 4,000 hours of ICO to refugees. Topics covered included, but are not limited to, cleanliness in the home; US tenant rights and laws, pest management, proper food storage, accessing local grocery stores, nutrition education, women’s and children’s health, navigating the US health care system, how to go to the doctor and mental health.
- Recruited 329 on-going or episodic volunteers
- Trained 153 community individuals including volunteers, community partner agencies, universities, church groups
- Developed and sustained 72 community partnerships
2017-2018 Refugee AmeriCorps Members
- Provided housing and/or health ICO to 449 refugees, assisting them in integrating into their local communities and helping them reach self-sufficiency
- Provided housing ICO to 377 newcomers in the areas of US tenant rights and responsibilities, pest management, home cleanliness, proper food storage, one-on-one housing assistance and more. 80% of those who have completed housing ICO program demonstrated improved understanding of housing topics.
- Provided health ICO to 320 newcomers in the areas of navigating the US health care system, women’s health topics, mental and emotional stress, pharmaceuticals, pre-and post-natal care and more. 81% of clients who completed a health ICO program demonstrated improved understanding of health topics.
- On average, clients enrolled in ICO receive an additional 3.1 hours of assistance and support in housing and/or health than clients not enrolled in ICO. Members provided over 1,500 hours of housing and health ICO.
- Recruited 121 on-going or episodic volunteers for ICO and general volunteer activities.
- Developed 86 community partnerships and trained 514 community individuals on working with refugee populations.