Publication Date: May 21, 2024
Publication Location: Washington, DC
Contact: Abby Henson   |   [email protected]

The Supporting Higher Education in Refugee Resettlement program (SHERR) is pleased to announce the selection of eight Innovation Incentive Grant awardees. The grants are designed to stimulate innovative ideas in refugee resettlement, and each recipient represents a partnership between a U.S. higher education institution and a refugee resettlement organization.

“SHERR was very encouraged by the response to our public call for proposals in December,” said Matt Brown, director at World Learning, the program’s lead implementing organization. “Proposed activities held enormous potential for local impact and reflected promising communication and collaboration.”

By the January application deadline, SHERR received 43 eligible proposals from across the country. The selection of the grantees reflected the potential for impact on resettlement outcomes in local communities and the combined potential for the cohort of grantees to bring diverse and inspirational examples and models to the national landscape.

Award winners and program descriptions:

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Vermont and Saint Michael’s College

On-Campus Refugee Housing Program

The grant will allow for U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) Vermont to expand its On-Campus Refugee Housing Program partnership with Saint Michael’s College by providing critical housing options for newly arriving families at a fraction of the cost of free market housing and apartments. The program helps to meet an immediate and growing need over the coming year as more families arrive in Chittenden County. Refugee families placed in on-campus housing will also enjoy support and assistance as needed from the members of the student-led Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts community outreach organization. Refugee youth and young adults ages 14-20 from newly arriving families living on campus will be encouraged to enroll in and utilize USCRI Vermont’s numerous youth empowerment programs. The program allows the partnership to significantly scale up and share this innovative and cost-effective refugee housing strategy with other USCRI field offices and resettlement agencies throughout the country.

Salve Regina University with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island and Mercy Social Work Consortium

Building Case Management Capacity in Rhode Island and Beyond

The grant will build on the existing relationship between the university and Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island (the state’s main resettlement agency) by initiating a period of communication, shadowing, and training which will result in new curriculum development in the bachelor of science’s social work departments at four university campuses. The focus of the curriculum will be around the topics of refugee resettlement, internship programs in refugee resettlement, and community knowledge building around resettlement in service of the longer-term goal to increase the state’s capacity to receive and support refugees.

University of Tulsa with The Synagogue, Congregation B’nai Emunah Refugee Resettlement Agency, Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, and YWCA Tulsa

Building Belonging: Cultural Orientation & Integration through Service Learning

The grant will aid refugees’ understanding of their cultural surroundings and help them navigate local systems. This project uses student service-learning opportunities to help support refugee resettlement through interactive cultural orientation activities with students and newcomer families. Through this initiative, the partnership hopes to decrease the time for newcomers to become self-sufficient, helping to alleviate pressures on local refugee support agencies and thereby increasing long-term local capacity.

Washington State University with International Rescue Committee Spokane

Bridges to Refugee Autonomy Through Synergistic Collaboration

This grant will help build on a successful pilot project in which nursing students from Washington State University (WSU) Spokane assist the Spokane office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in integrating refugees into the local health system. The initiative will create the foundation for more effective and expandable service-learning partnerships and initiate sustainable mentoring and tutoring programs for adults and youth. These efforts will make the IRC-WSU collaboration deeper, broader, and more mutually beneficial, and engage students from both the Spokane and the Pullman campuses.

St. Ambrose University with World Relief (Iowa) and Tapestry Farms

Strengthening St. Ambrose University’s Partnership with World Relief to Engage in Person-centered Health and Human Service Delivery to Resettled Refugees on Campus and in the Community

The grant will support St. Ambrose University’s partnership with World Relief to pilot sustainable actions to improve resettlement efforts on campus and in the bi-state (Illinois and Iowa) region. By working with refugees directly, students, faculty, and staff will specifically focus on listening to and including the voices and leadership of those refugee populations in all activities. This includes mapping affordable housing opportunities; delivering person-centered refugee health care into existing curricula; and developing and delivering career-focused English language learning for Every Campus A Refuge and other resettled families. All activities will include insights and leadership from the refugee populations directly and provide opportunities for students from multiple backgrounds and majors to better understand and respond to the specific needs of newly arrived and resettled refugees.

The Ohio State University with Community Refugee and Immigration Services

CRIS-OSU Service-Learning Partnership

This grant is guided by the goal of opening up The Ohio State University’s (OSU) campus to refugees who might think they do not belong. The main purpose is to strengthen the relationship between OSU and Community Refugee Immigration Services (CRIS) by connecting students with mentorship opportunities and building cross-campus relationships through student-life activities. Additionally, OSU will adapt the OSU service-learning course “Spanish in Ohio” to incorporate a curriculum on refugee resettlement and campus activities that increase peer-to-peer engagement between CRIS youth and OSU students.

Franklin & Marshall College with Church World Service Lancaster

Expanding Refugee Welcome on Campus and Beyond

With this grant, Franklin & Marshall College will further solidify its partnership with Church World Service (CWS) Lancaster by providing faculty workshops to expand existing Community-Based Learning classes with a focus on refugee resettlement; conducting research into facilities suitable for refugee housing; and supporting the student club F&M Action for Refugee Resettlement in bringing refugee speakers to campus. This initiative will further the partnership with CWS and broaden the college’s involvement to bolster Lancaster’s capacity for refugee resettlement.

Abilene Christian University with International Rescue Committee Abilene

Abilene Christian University – Housing, Opportunity, Play and Engagement (ACU HOPE)

The grant will support the Abilene Christian University’s (ACU) partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Abilene to implement ACU HOPE. This program will assist refugee resettlement in the Abilene community. The plan has four distinct pillars: Housing (Housing); RefugeeU (Opportunity through English language courses and campus employment); Futbol with Friends (Play through regular play with an ACU student learning group dedicated to service); and Engagement (Engagement with the ACU community through service learning). With the implementation of the HOPE initiative, ACU aims to establish the campus community of more than 4,000 students, faculty, and staff as a key resource in Texas for refugee resettlement.

Members of the SHERR coalition are: World Learning, an education, development, and exchange nonprofit organization in Washington, DC; the Ethiopian Community Development Council, one of 10 federally recognized resettlement agencies; the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and advocacy organization; and Welcome.US, a national initiative to mobilize Americans to welcome those seeking refuge in the U.S. SHERR is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.