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Refugee Resettlement: Positive Integration

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The IRC in Salt Lake City offers career development services, including GED prep courses and CDL training for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a commercial driver. Photo: Courtesy of Adrian Dehlin.

This is the final part of our three-part series, these deep dives better explain the process of refugee resettlement in Salt Lake City. In the first month, the deep dive covered the basics of who refugees are and initial resettlement in the U.S. Last month, the deep dive focused on the first 24-months after arrival. This month, the deep dive will describe just a few of the programs and services offered to refugees and New Americans beyond resettlement. 

Once acclimated to their new environment, a majority refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building their careers, purchasing homes, building businesses, and gaining citizenship. The IRC in Salt Lake City provides a variety of programs and services as refugees and New Americans strive for these accomplishments, including: 

ESL Classes—taught weekly in the IRC office and through one-on-one in-home tutors—allow refugees and other immigrant populations, regardless of how long they have been in the United States, to increase their English abilities. With improved English abilities, refugees are better equipped to integrate into the community, further their education, and progress professionally.

Career Development helps refugees who are looking to further their careers and education by offering one-on-one meetings to make and achieve development goals, including completing their GED and a variety of specialization courses, like CDL exam practice.

Financial Coaching provides courses and one-on-one coaching on how to understand, manage, and grow personal finances in the U.S. Refugees learn to use essential financial tools to help pay bills, open bank accounts, protect against fraud, apply for loans and file taxes. The financial coach provides one-on-one empowerment-based mentoring to help individuals progress and thrive financially.

Small Business programming offers comprehensive support for refugees who want to support themselves and their families through establishing and expanding small businesses. The program offers workshops, one-on-one coaching, market connections and access to business capital. Volunteer business mentors provide support on plans, registration, marketing, record keeping and more.

The Asset Building program supports refugees and new Americans to establish and save toward major asset goals. The program helps participants make savings plans, provides asset-specific training and technical assistance, and—depending on current funding—matches client savings toward the purchase of a home or vehicle, starting a small business or attending post-secondary training or education. Clients enrolled in asset-building programs also receive financial coaching relevant to their asset goals and overall financial wellbeing.

New Roots provides refugees the opportunity to connect with their new home and supplement their family's nutrition and income by growing crops, many of which are traditional cultural staples of their diets and are often difficult to find on grocery store shelves in the United States. Through community gardening, nutrition education and small-business farming, the IRC in Salt Lake City’s New Roots program gives hundreds of refugee farmers the tools and training they need to grow healthy and affordable food and become self-sufficient.

The Spice Kitchen Incubator brings together refugees, immigrants and other low- to moderate-income community members interested in starting a full- or part-time food business. The Spice Kitchen Incubator provides technical assistance and training, affordable access to commercial kitchen space and educational opportunities for participants to learn how to establish a successful food business through a five-year incubation process. Currently, entrepreneurs enrolled in the program represent over 25 different countries. 

Immigration Services—provided through two U.S. Department of Justice accredited immigration specialists—assist former refugees and other immigrant populations with legal representation. After one year of being in the United States, refugees are eligible to apply for their green card, and then four years later they can apply for citizenship. The IRC in Salt Lake City helps hundreds of refugees apply for citizenship each year.

Through two Department of Justice accredited immigration specialists, the IRC in Salt Lake City helps hundreds of refugees and immigrants file for citizenship and family reunification each year.  Photo: IRC

Refugees must rebuild their lives from traumatic and tragic circumstances. They embrace their newly adopted homeland with tremendous energy and success. They go on to work, attend universities, build professions, purchase homes, raise children and contribute to their communities. Ultimately refugees obtain citizenship and become fully participating members of society. They become Americans.

This holiday season, provide a gift of welcome in support of refugees in the Beehive State and in support of our work here at the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City. Give today: Rescue.org/GiveSLC