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Community sponsorship

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than 100 million people are now forcibly displaced worldwide. This human rights crisis has created an unparalleled and unexpected need for refugee services in our communities.

Fortunately, it has also catalyzed vital collaboration between resettlement agencies, volunteers, donors, and community groups. The relationships built during this time of emergency have provided fertile grounds from which to build our new program: Resettle Together: Community Sponsorship at IINE.

What is community Sponsorship

Community sponsorship is a collaborative effort between carefully selected groups of volunteers and agency resettlement staff, working together under a formal agreement to prepare for and welcome refugees into their communities. Some of the core services sponsor groups provide include locating and setting up appropriate housing, providing airport pick ups, assisting with school enrollment, and offering cultural orientation.

Community sponsorship programs come in different formats; Resettle Together is an agency-led co-sponsor resettlement program. This program formalizes the partnerships necessary to welcome refugees to New England and guide them toward security and self-sufficiency. Groups will take on some of the core services performed by IINE’s case specialists. This model not only adds capacity for IINE staff members who provide intensive services, but also allows community members to better understand the refugee experience and build direct relationships with arriving families. 

Community Sponsorship Programs

How to Participate

Community sponsorship is an opportunity for community members to be directly involved in providing newcomers with assistance, guidance, and mentorship needed to gain independence in their new homes. 

Under the supervision of experienced and attentive IINE staff, sponsor groups are trained to provide core resettlement services, including locating and setting up appropriate housing, providing airport pickups, offering cultural orientation, assisting school enrollment, and giving financial support and in-kind donations.  

Community sponsors become guides, advocates, and friends to refugees, asylees, and those seeking asylum in New England.

Resettle Together virtual info sessions are held every other Wednesday at 1 p.m. Once you have participated in a virtual session, you can apply to become a sponsor. All sponsors will receive training on their specific responsibilities and will have ongoing support from IINE staff.

What is Required

The ideal community sponsor group is made up of open-minded and generous people who are invested in their communities and excited about welcoming and supporting new neighbors. Knowledge of languages other than English, familiarity with the immigrant experience, a willingness to learn, and a heightened sense of curiosity are all also helpful. 

A community sponsor group is usually made up of five to twelve people willing to contribute five hours per week for four months or more. Community sponsor groups commit to raising $10,000 to support the family with whom they have been matched. While the financial component is important, being able to commit time and (non-monetary) resources are also vital elements for success. 

A Meaningful Partnership With Higher Education Institutions

IINE has forged a new type of partnership with local colleges and universities: collaborating directly with students in classes on migration, international affairs, and international business to provide them with hands-on service-learning opportunities as Resettle Together volunteers. The benefits are threefold: 

  • Refugee families get the support of driven young volunteers who are exploring their new city alongside them.  
  • IINE gets to help shape the next generation of welcomers and supporters. 
  • Participating students get to move beyond research to gain experience and make a tangible difference in the lives of refugees who need support in this pivotal stage.  

Learn more about our recent partnerships with Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Boston in our blog, “College Students Learn Refugee Resettlement by Lending Helping Hands” and by visiting the Higher Ed Immigration Portal.

Questions about community sponsorship?

Jessica Cirone

Kate Waidler

Learn About Current Resettle Together Groups