The IRC in Louisville, KY

The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In Louisville and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.

Who are refugees?

Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward

Why are refugees arriving in Louisville?

The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those fleeing conflict and persecution. Once refugees have been identified by the United Nations refugee agency and cleared for resettlement, the U.S. government works with the IRC and eight other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives in America. Out of the 25 million refugees in the world, fewer than 1 percent are considered for resettlement worldwide.

Refugees may be placed in a city where they have relatives or friends, or where there’s an established community that shares their language or culture. Other considerations include the cost of living and a community’s ability to provide medical services; however, as legal U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they choose.

How does the IRC help refugees in Louisville?

IRC’s staff, volunteers, and community partners work together to empower refugees to restore their dignity and self-reliance and participate in their new communities. 

Our Programs:

  • Reception and Placement: Meeting critical needs in the early months after arriving in the United States.  IRC staff and community partners ensure newly arrived refugees are greeted at the airport; have a furnished home; receive time-limited rental assistance; have access to nutritious food, healthcare and education; and are given appropriate social services referrals.
  • Employment Services: Early self-sufficiency through employment is the foundation of the US Refugee Program.  IRC staff and volunteers provide job readiness training, vocational counseling, resume preparation, job search and placement services, and financial assistance for basic needs with the goal of helping refugees find their first job in America.  Employment services are provided to refugees for up to five years from their date of arrival.
  • English as a Second Language: IRC provides refugees the opportunity to learn ESL through beginner and intermediate ESL classes.  IRC Louisville will be partnering with a local organization to support ESL classes. Volunteer instructors and classroom aids play a key role in helping refugees improve their language skills to qualify for better jobs and help integrate more quickly into their new communities.
  • Intensive Case Management: Some refugees face barriers that make rapid employment difficult.  Others face cultural barriers that require additional training and orientation support to learn to navigate American systems independently.  Still others face crisis after an initial period of stability.  For those refugees, IRC provides intensive case management services for up to five years after arrival.
  • Health: The IRC in Louisville's health liaison assesses medical needs, connects families to suitable health care providers, and assists refugee clients with securing health insurance when necessary.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?

IRC has broadened its community engagement and now offers immigration, youth, and English-language programs to members of the community. 

How can I help refugees in Louisville?

There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Louisville. You can:

Donate Money: Money raised in Louisville stays in Louisville. Local donations allow IRC to meet emergency needs of clients and support our programs in many ways.

Volunteer or Intern: Volunteers support all facets of our work! Community volunteers make the difference between a refugee transitioning from surviving to thriving with the skills and knowledge to be a full participant in their new community. 

Donate New or Gently Used Items: From gently used furniture and household goods to set-up apartments to old computers, bikes or TVs, the IRC seeks to provide refugees with items that will help them get restarted here in the US.

Host a DIY Fundraiser: Have fun hosting a fundraiser with IRC designated as your beneficiary.  Work with IRC staff to develop and implement your concept, including establishing your own donation page linked to the IRC’s website.

Hold a Donation Drive: Help IRC meet critical needs of refugees by gathering new and gently used items from your friends, relatives, or community group.

Other Ways to Get Involved:

  • Sponsor a refugee through a community sponsorship program
  • Hire a refugee
  • Rent a home to a refugee family
  • Name an IRC Classroom
  • “Like” us on Facebook!
What do refugees contribute to Louisville?

Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, starting businesses, and gaining citizenship.

Welcome From Our Executive Director

Picture of Jeffrey Cornish, Executive Director, smiling at camera in a blue button-up shirt.

At a time when the needs of refugees worldwide have never been greater, the Louisville office of the IRC is joining Kentucky’s dedicated refugee resettlement agencies in offering the world's most vulnerable population—those fleeing war, violence, and oppression—a chance to live healthy and prosperous lives right here in River City. Every day, we help these brave people begin again and thrive, free from fear in our beautiful and compassionate ‘old Kentucky home.’

At the IRC, we serve all refugees without bias or prejudice and hope you can join us as we play our part in defending and promoting the United States’ and Kentucky’s proud refugee and immigration history.

Jeffrey A. Cornish
Executive Director - Louisville, KY

Our impact


people in the U.S. received asylum and protection support.

IRC offices across the U.S. provide immediate aid--including food, housing and medical attention—among other support.

Learn about resettlement and asylum


people were assisted to become new U.S. citizens.

The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in cities across the U.S.

Learn about immigration


Our economic empowerment support includes financial coaching, vocational training and asset building.

people with training to help them build careers and income.

Learn more