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The International Institute of New England Celebrates 100 Years of Service in Boston

  February 15, 2024

February marks 100 years since the International Institute of Boston first opened its doors to welcome and support people from all around the world

BOSTON February 15, 2024 – The International Institute of New England (IINE) celebrates the centennial anniversary of its Boston, Massachusetts office, marking 100 years of welcoming and serving refugees and immigrants in the city and surrounding communities. Over the century, IINE’s Boston office has expanded to support more than 3,000 individuals from all around the world every year—many of whom have fled persecution, war, famine, and climate disasters. Their programs—which span resettlement, adult education, workforce development, pathways to citizenship and much more—help immigrants find safety and a fresh start in Greater Boston.

IINE started in its earliest form in the early 1900s when women at YMCA’s all around the country noted the nation’s growing immigrant population and sought to create a more welcoming, inclusive place where their newest community members could access multilingual social services. The first “International Institute” opened in New York in 1911, and the model quickly spread. By the 1920s, there were 55 International Institutes across the country. The International Institute of Lowell opened in 1918 and in Boston in 1924. Over the next ten decades, hundreds of community groups, individuals, employers, city departments, corporations, and foundations joined forces with the International Institute to help immigrants integrate into New England. IINE’s third and final location in Manchester, NH, was founded in 1994 and in 2001 the three sites consolidated to become the International Institute of New England.

Today, IINE’s services are organized around its strategic resettlement model—rooted in responsiveness, equity, and advocacy—which provides a framework to successfully welcome and integrate refugees and immigrants into Massachusetts communities where they both benefit and contribute. Through its evolving model and programs, IINE has played a critical role in building Boston into the welcoming, diverse city it is today, where 28% of residents are immigrants, and many more are multi-generational descendants of those who first arrived.

“During our centennial year and amidst a surge of newly arriving families in the Commonwealth, we celebrate 100 years of life-changing support to families in Greater Boston as we prepare for our second century of service,” said Jeff Thielman, President and CEO of the International Institute of New England. “Around the world there are more displaced people than ever before, and the causes of displacement are shifting. We can’t know when or where the next natural disaster, conflict, or humanitarian crisis will occur, but we know that IINE will always strive to be prepared to welcome them and provide critical resettlement services including social connection, language acquisition, and workforce integration.”

IINE’s work of welcoming newcomers into the Commonwealth, while valuing and preserving their unique cultural contributions, is integral to the city’s growth, success, and identity as a city of belonging. Providing refugees and immigrants with a strong foundation of support means new arrivals have the opportunity to integrate into our communities, achieve self-sufficiency, and meaningfully contribute to Boston’s culture and economy.

IINE Boston marks its centennial with a year-long celebration with several upcoming events and a new series exploring its history and Boston as a city of immigrants: 100 Years of Welcome: Commemorating IINE’s Boston Centennial”. Events throughout the year include an Immigrant Heritage Month celebration in partnership with the City of Boston, an interactive “Centennial Walk” journeying through 100 years of service, and the Golden Door Award Gala in 2025, a time-honored celebration which will for the first-time honor IINE itself for its contribution to American society and to shaping Boston’s vibrant diversity.

To learn more about the International Institute of New England and its upcoming centennial anniversary plans, visit https://iine.org/boston-100/.

ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF NEW ENGLAND

The International Institute of New England (IINE) creates opportunities for refugees and immigrants to succeed through resettlement, education, career advancement and pathways to citizenship. With locations in Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts and Manchester, New Hampshire, IINE serves more than 10,000 individuals annually, including people displaced by political instability, violence, and climate crises, child and adult survivors of human trafficking, and unaccompanied children joining family members in New England. IINE offers a comprehensive range of programs and services to help these newcomers feel welcome, achieve stability and security, and access resources in their new communities; advance their education and employment goals; and integrate into their communities. IINE’s expertise builds on more than a century of service, and with continued partnership from community groups and support from philanthropists throughout New England, IINE will continue this service for the next 100 years and beyond.


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