What we do
U.S. program offerings
The International Rescue Committee is one of the leading providers of services for refugees, asylees and asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and other vulnerable immigrants in the United States. Across the country, each year, the IRC serves over 35,000 individuals with an array of services aimed at helping them to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities.
We measure our progress on this mission by assessing improvements in the long-term outcomes of the women, men, girls and boys that we serve—their health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and empowerment. We want to achieve our goal while we deliver the greatest impact for the most people at the lowest cost, and so are committed to constantly strengthening the effectiveness of our programs, responsiveness to clients and communities, and to reach more people with timely evidence-based assistance.
Across our U.S. offices, the IRC offers the following programs:
- Economic empowerment
- Health, safety & wellbeing
- New Roots: Food security & agriculture
- Immigration & citizenship
- Youth services
- META: M&E
- Research, analysis, and learning (RAL)
The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war. In 2015, the International Rescue Committee helped resettle nearly 10,000 newly arrived refugees and provided services to promote self-reliance and integration to over 36,000 refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking and other immigrants. IRC staff members and volunteers believe that refugees’ greatest resources are themselves. We help them translate their skills, interests and past experiences into assets that are valuable in their new communities
The IRC’s Pathways to Citizenship program strives to ensure equal protection under the law and civic integration of refugees and immigrants by assisting them to achieve U.S. citizenship. The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in 24 cities across the U.S. Our comprehensive immigration services are provided by fully qualified IRC staff accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals. Each year the IRC served more than 12,000 individuals with immigration services.
Trafficking in persons — also known as "human trafficking" — is a form of modern-day slavery. Anywhere from 700,000 to 4 million persons worldwide are trafficked across or within national borders every year. The International Rescue Committee’s anti-trafficking programs strive to provide timely, high-quality, comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking. The IRC also works to improve the community response to survivors of trafficking by providing training to local service providers and allied professionals and working to enhance collaboration and coordination among multi-disciplinary professionals on behalf of survivors of human trafficking. The IRC’s goal is to help survivors build lives for themselves that are free from abuse and exploitation.
The IRC’s economic empowerment programs support clients in rebuilding their lives in the U.S. For newly arriving refugees, the first step towards a thriving future is achieving financial stability. The IRC supports new arrivals find their first job in the U.S. through Early Employment Programs, which blend classroom job-readiness instruction and individualized employment case management in helping over 75 percent of enrolled cases successfully find employment within 6 months of arrival to the U.S. While clients are looking for a job, they simultaneously learn about the complex U.S. financial services system, receive help in establishing bank accounts, and can access consumer advocacy and financial coaching support from IRC Financial Counselors.
Shortly after families achieve financial stability, they often return to the IRC and seek assistance in enhancing their income and building assets. Our Career Development programs support clients transition from low-wage, low-skill jobs into higher-paying, higher skilled careers. For clients that wish to pursue entrepreneurship, the IRC hosts Microenterprise Programs that offer intensive individual business technical assistance and access to low-interest loan products. To complement these asset building efforts, IRC offices also offer free income tax preparation for low-income families, as well as access to matched-saving accounts to help families purchase key assets like homes.
To further reinforce the effectiveness of the IRC’s Economic Empowerment Programs, we have also established a subsidiary – the IRC’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) – that offers participants access to a range of affordable financial products that can accelerate clients’ upward economic mobility. Recently certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), the Center offers credit-building, auto, and business loans to low-income borrowers.
The IRC US Programs offices offer a variety of health programming for clients, which differs by location. Programs focus on health promotion and education, outreach to medical providers and targeted assistance for pre- and post-natal clients, as well as food security and nutrition.
Women & girls
The IRC's US Programs work toward a vision that refugee and immigrant women and girls in the US are safe, healthy, educated, economically well, and have power to contribute to a society where they are valued, have equal access to opportunity, and live free from violence. USP's WPE work focuses on reducing and responding to violence against women and gender inequality, so that women and girls not only live free from violence, but are also empowered to fully engage in personal, civic, social, and economic opportunities in the US.
Mental health is a crucial component of well-being for the client population at the IRC. All refugees have endured stressful circumstances and most experienced and/or witnessed distressing events. The IRC has a number of programs that promote well-being across the United States and offer refugees the tools to cope with and thrive in their new environment, through clinical and non-clinical services. These programs work to strengthen the emotional health of refugees through regular emotional well-being assessments and culturally appropriate support services. IRC mental health and wellness programs seek to highlight and promote dynamic, strengths-based, and client-centered approaches to service delivery. Staff affirm and respect the diversity of experience and perspectives by embracing, acknowledging and exploring the client’s perspective of their situation and potential solutions.
Through nutrition education and urban scale farming and market programs, the IRC's New Roots program is giving hundreds of resettled refugees the tools and training to grow healthy produce, provide affordable food to their neighbors, build their business skills, and support community wellness.
At its core, New Roots enables refugees to reconnect with agrarian backgrounds and facilitate the application of their unique skills to improving their lives and livelihoods in their new home. The program has grown from just a few offices to most of the US Programs network, spurred primarily by strong interest and support from refugees and other local community members.
This programming creates safe and welcoming opportunities for new immigrant populations to meet and work with their new neighbors, creating tighter-knit, safer and more economically and culturally vibrant communities.
The US Programs network offers comprehensive, diverse programming for refugee youth across the US. The goal is to provide the educational and developmental opportunities that build the essential academic, personal and social skills that kids need to succeed.
The services provided vary by office, and include:
- Extra-Curricular Support: Academic tutoring, civics classes, college visits and prep, computer literacy, creative arts, English as a Second Language (ESL), field trips to cultural and recreational events, homework help, mentoring, native language literacy, nutrition education, pre-GED classes, sports and recreation, test preparation, tutoring, youth-focused special events and youth gardens
- Family Support: Crisis intervention, healthy family presentations, home visits, parenting guidance, problem solving, school liaison services and support group facilitation
- School Coordination: Advocacy, capacity development for educators, curriculum development, outreach, parent/teacher coordination, school enrollment and school orientation
Data-driven decision-making is one of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s six guiding principles and the cornerstone of effective service delivery. The META Project puts this principle into action, helping improve ORR-funded organizations’ capacity to collect meaningful data, manage it well, analyze it effectively, and use the resulting analyses to improve project design.
Through technical assistance, training, and outreach, META not only aims to help refugee service providers improve their monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practices, but also works to foster a proactive dialogue examining the policy and practice needed for organizations to engage in quality M&E and implement evidence-based programming. Through this initiative, we hope to ensure that quality data is available and used to continuously inform services provided to resettled refugees and other populations of concern in the U.S., ultimately providing them with high-quality, evidence-based services that help them thrive and become integrated members of American society.
The IRC's US Programs has embarked on a new initiative to strengthen our research-based understanding of our programs in the United States and their impacts on the lives of the clients that we serve. The Research, Analysis & Learning (RAL) team strives to expand our capacity to conduct and promote high-quality research that will enable USP's practice to become more evidence-based. By deepening our understanding and strengthening our measurement of the impact of our work on the lives of our clients as they navigate the social and economic complexities of adjusting to life in the US, USP will provide existing services more efficiently and effectively and identify appropriate areas for new program development.