Private Sponsor Organizations Will Reach Americans in More than 30 States
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2023 | Media Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON – Today, 12 diverse organizations joined the Welcome Corps as Private Sponsor Organizations. They will leverage their expertise to help recruit, support, and oversee Americans who are sponsoring newcomers through the Welcome Corps.
The Welcome Corps is a U.S. government community service program that launched in January 2023 and allows everyday Americans to privately sponsor refugees from around the world. The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in the United States’ approach to refugee resettlement in more than 40 years.
The new Welcome Corps Private Sponsor Organizations include:
- Catholic Charities of Onondaga County
- Church World Service
- Ethiopian Community Development Council
- Homes for Refugees USA
- IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
- International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis
- International Rescue Committee
- Rainbow Railroad
- World Relief
Through the Welcome Corps, eligible American citizens and lawful permanent residents work in groups of five or more to welcome refugees under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) by securing and preparing initial housing, greeting refugee newcomers at the airport, enrolling children in school, getting driver’s license and helping adults to find employment. Private Sponsor Organizations coach these Americans in carrying out core private sponsorship services, including making connections with local community organizations and services and newly arriving refugees resettled through the USRAP. Organizations will also assist sponsors in navigating the sponsorship process, including group dynamics and supporting refugees from diverse experiences and backgrounds.
“Welcome Corps, which is all about enabling everyday Americans to provide direct, meaningful support to refugees, resonates deeply with our mission at Alight. This innovative program allows us to reach potential sponsors within our communities on a new level, fostering connections that truly embody the spirit of being a welcoming neighbor. Participating in the Welcome Corps is not just about providing services or meeting needs – it’s about unlocking human potential and strengthening communities. By involving more Americans directly in the refugee resettlement process, we can amplify the understanding, empathy, and shared growth that come from these mutually beneficial relationships,” said Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of Alight.
“Catholic Charities of Onondaga County (CCOC) has been resettling refugees for more than 40 years. Supporting and facilitating private sponsorship is a natural extension of the agency’s commitment to embrace newcomers, reunify families, and rebuild lives. CCOC looks forward to sharing the diversity, opportunities, and vibrancy that refugees bring to welcoming communities,” said Michael F. Melara, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County.
“For over 75 years, CWS has known that welcoming newcomers to our communities is not only the right thing to do, but an essential way to make sure all of us are more compassionate and civically engaged. It helps us build empathy, heal past prejudices, and create cultural understanding as we learn that refugees are more similar to us than different. And it is through the Welcome Corps that we can now build faster and stronger, because it allows anyone in the United States to welcome regardless of location. This is a partnership that unites us in the shared goal of not only offering the safety of a new community for the persecuted, but one that offers a brighter future for us, those we welcome, and our country,” said Stacey Clack, Director of Community Sponsorship at Church World Service.
“As ECDC celebrates its 40th anniversary of serving and empowering the refugee and Immigrant community, we are excited to join Welcome Corps as a Private Sponsor Organization. Over the last few years, we have witnessed how the American people have stepped up to assist the government and resettlement agencies across the U.S. in meeting the challenges of the increased influx of refugees from around the world. This opportunity will help ECDC expand its community engagement and sponsorship program and reach a larger number of deserving families displaced from their homes by mobilizing everyday Americans to form Private Sponsor Groups. Serving as a Private Sponsor Organization also enables ECDC to respond to the needs of African refugees seeking to resettle in the U.S. and contribute to the diversification of the resettlement program,” said Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, Ph.D., Ethiopian Community Development Council President and CEO.
“HIAS is thrilled to be among the first to become a Private Sponsor Organization for the U.S. Refugee Program’s groundbreaking ‘Welcome Corps.’ As an agency with more than 120 years of experience working with Jewish communities to support newcomers to this country, HIAS welcomes this opportunity to work with community-based organizations, synagogues and individual Americans to resettle people even to those places where HIAS does not have local resettlement affiliates. We look forward to expanding the United States’ capacity to reunite families and to welcome more people who have fled their homes because of persecution for being who they are, and to working with the U.S. government to further improve this new initiative by sharing what we learn,” said Mark Hetfield, HIAS President and CEO.
“Home for Refugees USA was formed to create opportunities for ordinary people to welcome and partner with their new refugee neighbors to help rebuild their lives in their new homes. We can attest that when refugees arrive, they revitalize communities through the mutual, transformational friendships they form with their volunteer Private Sponsor Group and by getting involved in their new communities. We have seen this become a reality since 2016 when our work began during the Syrian refugee crisis. Now with Welcome Corps and the introduction of private sponsorship of refugees, the future of resettlement in the United States is here. We are excited to be part of a new welcoming movement that will help even more refugees find safety, freedom, and dignity,” said Minda Schweizer, Executive Director of Home for Refugees USA.
“We have always found that welcoming refugees is a task for more than just a resettlement agency alone. It takes an entire community to welcome refugees, learn about who they are as individuals and communities, and be committed to ensuring our new neighbors can find and access all the resources they need. Through Welcome Corps, we are expanding the pathways for refugees to resettle in St. Louis. We are harnessing the enthusiasm in our community and providing a direct opportunity for individuals to welcome their newest neighbors and show them the possibility of a new future, here in St. Louis,” said Arrey Obenson, President and CEO of International Institute of St. Louis.
“The Welcome Corps is a much-needed pathway to help additional refugees find protection and freedom in the United States. Private sponsorship through the Welcome Corps is an opportunity for Americans from all walks of life to live their values by welcoming refugees, and the International Rescue Committee is proud to support them on this journey as a Private Sponsor Organization (PSO). As a PSO, the International Rescue Committee will provide private sponsor groups with the support and guidance to safely and successfully resettle refugees in local communities,” said Hans Van de Weerd, Senior Vice President for Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration at the International Rescue Committee.
“More than 60 percent of IRIS’s Welcome Corps staff started out volunteering as sponsors. It is a thrill to watch them lead a national movement. We hope to bring to the Welcome Corps and each community we support our organizations’ goal of radical hospitality — the warmest, most personal of welcomes for refugee families, for new organizations joining the movement, and for communities coming together to honor this noble tradition,” said Ann O’Brien, Director of Sponsorship at IRIS – Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services.
“LGBTQI+ people are facing increasing persecution around the world, and LGBTQI+ persons seeking refuge have a critical need for networks of support throughout the process of resettlement. The Welcome Corps program represents a major step in Rainbow Railroad’s goal of advancing LGBTQI+ rights worldwide, in partnership with U.S. government and U.S.-based civil-society partners. Rainbow Railroad is excited about this program, which will empower communities of care across the United States to support LGBTQI+ people at risk,” said Kimahli Powell, CEO, Rainbow Railroad.
“As the world of resettlement shifts on its axis, WelcomeNST is reimagining a new kind of charity – one that digs irrigation ditches, connecting the sea of need that is the global refugee crisis with the ocean of goodwill that naturally flows from the most generous country on earth. Welcome Corps and the Private Sponsorship Model allows us to do this by simplifying this overwhelming crisis down to one refugee family at a time, and we connect them directly to one community that’s willing to welcome them to the U.S. Then, we let the good flow,” said Elizabeth Davis-Edwards, Founder of WelcomeNST.
“For almost 80 years, World Relief has been responding to the global refugee crisis. Founded in the aftermath of World War II to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of war-torn Europe, our work has touched the lives of millions of people in over 100 countries, many of whom have now found refuge and a safe place to call home here in the U.S. At a time of unprecedented displacement, innovative programs like the Welcome Corps are needed to expand U.S. resettlement to the persecuted abroad. For years, many faith communities have desired to welcome refugees but found themselves outside the current U.S. resettlement areas. As a private sponsor organization, we will use our decades of expertise in equipping churches and communities to catalyze a greater movement of Americans ready to welcome refugees as their neighbors,” said Myal Greene, President and CEO of World Relief.
If your organization is interested in becoming a Private Sponsor Group, learn more at welcomecorps.org.
About Welcome Corps
The Welcome Corps was launched by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and is being implemented by a consortium of six organizations that have extensive expertise in refugee resettlement, protection of vulnerable populations, and relocation of newcomers into welcoming communities. Led by the Community Sponsorship Hub, the consortium includes Church World Service/Refugee Welcome Collective, IRIS – Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Welcome.US. The Welcome Corps aims to mobilize at least 10,000 Americans in 2023 to welcome refugees through private sponsorship.
Refugee newcomers who arrive through the Welcome Corps will follow an established government process, known as the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), that includes extensive security vetting and health checks. They will have refugee status, employment authorization, access to key public benefits like health insurance, and can eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. The Welcome Corps provides sponsor groups with access to tools and resources, including a budget template, fundraising support, an arrival checklist, and ongoing guidance throughout the initial sponsorship period.
Americans interested in learning more about sponsorship or to apply to the Welcome Corps should visit WelcomeCorps.org.