Spotlight On: Community Engagement
New American Pathways envisions a Georgia where refugees are leaders in their communities, engaged in solving problems and sharing new ideas. Community members have the right to participate in decisions that impact their current and future well-being. Leaders are experts in the needs of their communities and finding the best solutions. Communities are more successful in reaching their goals when a diverse group of leaders is engaged.
Our Community Engagement Program (CEP) supports the Georgia refugee community in achieving success by providing refugee community members and leaders the necessary informational, educational and social tools that enhance strengths they already have. After six years of federal funding as part of Refugee Family Services, private funding for the RRISA/RFS merger afforded the opportunity to update the program based on community input. Today as the CEP, our mission, goals, and activities have been designed and approved by the community we serve, all with the aim of providing Georgia’s refugee and immigrant community the tools it needs to achieve success – however it defines “success.”
“The program is great,” says Salai Thang, President of Burmese Chin Community of Atlanta. “The classes, the topics, the structure of the program. It is very useful and it will be very useful in the future for sure. I’ve kept all my notes and handouts; they are really, really effective classes. That’s what we need as a community.”
To many like Salai, the heart of CEP is the ROA Network, which stands for Refugees Organizing in Action. This project focuses specifically on refugee and immigrant community leaders and their community organizations. Member leaders and organizations have access to nonprofit management trainings, networking and resource-sharing opportunities, mentorships and in-kind support for everything from furniture to interns.
In return, leaders build organizations that provide services to their community members, reaching more people than any one organization or program can reach alone. Leaders report these services are unique in the community and have a far reaching impact, especially the trainings, which are provided by an expert non-profit consultant on topics for which leaders voted.
New American Pathways can have a lasting impact by intentionally engaging community members and empowering them to have an active involvement in the decisions that affect their lives. Stay tuned for more success stories from this final milestone on the New American’s Pathway!