As Americans Welcome Afghan Refugees, Community Sponsorship Hub Awards $2.3 million to 17 Local, National Resettlement Agencies

Coalition of Private Funders Helps Expand Opportunities Across the Country for Americans to Sponsor Newcomers from Afghanistan & Elsewhere

(New York, New York)  – The Community Sponsorship Hub today awarded three national resettlement agencies and 14 local organizations with grants ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 each from the Community Sponsorship Catalyst Fund (“Catalyst Fund”). The grants will help agencies provide opportunities for Americans across the country to sponsor the tens of thousands of Afghan and other refugees arriving this autumn in the United States.

Local-level grantees were awarded $100,000 grants to develop, redesign, or enhance community sponsorship programs. National resettlement agencies were awarded $250,000 to support the development, promotion, and implementation of community sponsorship programs, with a particular focus on scaling up co-sponsorship programs within their networks. These grantees join eight previously awarded organizations; together these organizations will expand community sponsorship opportunities to dozens of communities across the United States.

Community sponsorship pairs forcibly displaced populations with groups of individuals who provide financial and/or in-kind donations and volunteer services supporting newcomer integration. Co-sponsorship is a form of community sponsorship through which community groups share responsibility with local resettlement agencies to provide certain reception and placement services to refugees as outlined by the Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Community sponsorship is a community-centered initiative that provides diverse groups, such as local clubs, faith groups, book clubs, private companies, and university communities, an opportunity to meaningfully engage in welcoming and supporting forcibly displaced populations as they establish themselves in the United States. Through community sponsorship, community members and newcomers forge new relationships, expand local connections, strengthen the core of society, and reinvigorate the US resettlement program.

The Catalyst Fund was established in 2019 to develop, implement, and enhance community sponsorship programs across the United States. Round two Catalyst Fund awards are supported by the Five Together Foundation, the Kaufer Family Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Shapiro Foundation, World Education Services Mariam Assefa Fund and private philanthropists G. Barrie Landry and Laurie T. Franz.

The Catalyst Fund is housed within the Community Sponsorship Hub, an organization established in 2021 to grow the role of communities in the protection, resettlement, and integration of refugees and other forcibly displaced people. The projects selected for funding exemplify the mission of The Community Sponsorship Hub. From providing new community engagement opportunities to remote areas of Nebraska to enhancing support in urban areas of New Jersey, these grantees are responding to President Biden’s goal of expanding resettlement capacity through community sponsorship.

Lisa Howe and Stephen Kaufer, representing the Kaufer Family Foundation, said, “Collectively, communities across the United States have the capacity and resources to respond to the urgent needs of newcomer families. Community sponsorship brings together businesses, civic and religious groups, and local organizations to support these individuals as they resettle and become active members of their new communities.”

Ed Shapiro of The Shapiro Foundation said, “We are at a pivotal moment in time; we have an opportunity to reaffirm the United States’ leadership in refugee resettlement. Expanding community sponsorship is integral to this endeavor. Through community sponsorship Americans welcome and support newcomers, enriching their communities and strengthening the US resettlement program.”

“As a funder focused on building an equitable economy for refugees and immigrants, we know that cannot happen without inclusive communities – and community sponsorship is a proven way to advance that goal. The WES Mariam Assefa Fund is proud to support the Community Sponsorship Hub and its partners that are building back the refugee resettlement system to provide more support for refugees, communities, and the field. This work is particularly critical in this moment as we look to welcome Afghan families beginning to establish their lives in communities across the U.S” said Lauren Crain, Associate Director of U.S. Strategy and Programs, World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund.

G. Barrie Landry said, “The United States has a long, proud history of providing welcome to those forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution. Our culture of welcome is visible today, as we have seen individuals across the United States coming forward, volunteering their time and resources to respond to the urgent needs of displaced populations. Through community sponsorship, new connections across diverse populations are established, strengthening whole communities.”

“The arrival of tens of thousands of newcomers from Afghanistan is a remarkable inflection point in the history of resettlement,” said Gregory Maniatis of the Open Society Foundations. “They have ties with countless veterans who served with them in Afghanistan, with media, democracy and human rights organizations that employed them, and with relatives who arrived here in earlier years. These Americans are passionate about sponsoring Afghan newcomers and integrating them into their communities. The Catalyst Fund grants will help make this possible while also building a sustainable foundation for Americans to sponsor refugees for many years to come.”

Laurie T. Franz said, “Over the past several weeks, individuals across the country have reached out to local resettlement agencies offering support and volunteering their time. This is the spirit of America, communities coming together to support one another. Expanding community sponsorship offers individuals the opportunity to meaningfully engage with newcomers and reinvigorate community connections.”

The complete list of recipients for the Community Sponsorship Catalyst Fund are as follows:

Local resettlement agencies 

Bethany Christian Services (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Catherine McAuley Center (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Church World Service Harrisonburg (Harrisonburg, Virginia)

Della Lamb (Kansas City, Missouri)

Ethiopian Community Development Council Brattleboro (Brattleboro, Vermont)

Hello Neighbor (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Journey’s End Refugee Services (Buffalo, New York)

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska (Omaha, Nebraska)

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

International Rescue Committee New Jersey (Elizabeth, New Jersey)  and Church World Service Jersey City (Jersey City, New Jersey)

International Rescue Committee Abilene (Abilene, Texas)

International Rescue Committee in Wichita (Wichita, Kansas)

North Carolina African Services Coalition (Greensboro, North Carolina)

Refugee Assistance Alliance (Miami, Florida)

National resettlement agencies launching co-sponsorship programs at local resettlement agencies across the United States 

Ethiopian Community Development Council (Arlington, Virginia)

HIAS (Silver Spring, Maryland)

World Relief (Baltimore, Maryland)