The IRC in Oakland, CA
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 Oakland 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 Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
Why are refugees arriving in Oakland?
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 nearly 20 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 Oakland?
Our programs are designed to ensure refugees thrive in America--whether ensuring children are enrolled in school, adults become self-reliant through employment or starting businesses, or families receive acute medical care they need to recover from trauma or illness. The IRC helps those in need to rebuild their lives and regain control of their future in their new home community.
Refugees are greeted and welcomed at the airport by IRC case workers and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:
- A furnished home
- Help with rent
- Health care
- Nutritious, affordable food
- English language classes
- Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
- Education for their children
- Social services and community support
- Legal services towards residency and citizenship
Our programs in Oakland:
- Resettlement is with clients from touchdown at the airport. Within the initial three month span, the team helps refugees with housing, employment, benefits, health insurance, enrollment in English classes, cultural orientation, and referrals to internal and external support. Intensive case management is available for clients with special needs, for example a health condition, who may require additional support.
- Early Employment assists clients in finding their very first jobs in the United States. This program offers basic job training, assistance with resumes and interviews, vocational scholarships, and weekly ESL classes.
- Economic Empowerment addresses the needs of more established refugees, by blending workforce skills and development, financial education and coaching, and public benefits support to help clients build sustainable careers and long term financial stability.
- New Roots works to increase refugee access to and participation in the local food system through nutrition education, food security programming, community gardening, and micro-enterprise training.
- Immigration not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any low-income immigrant population. The department provides assistance in applying for Green Cards, Citizenship/Naturalization, travel documents, employment authorization, visa applications, petitioning for family reunification, CAM/AOR, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
- Anti-Trafficking strives to provide timely, high-quality, comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking as well as raise awareness and educate the public through collaboration and coordination with law enforcement and other community organizations.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC in Oakland’s immigration department not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any low-income immigrant population. In addition, the IRC in Oakland partners with local service providers and community groups to conduct programming.
How can I help refugees in Oakland?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Oakland. You can:
Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.
Volunteer Process and Opportunities: Read the steps you need to go through to become an IRC volunteer and see our current list of volunteer opportunities here.
Get your Company Involved: Bring your colleagues together for team building activity that gives back.
Internship Opportunities: See our current list of internship opportunities here.
New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: We’re collecting a variety of items in support of newly arrived refugees. See how you can help.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting a fundraiser. Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!
GenR: GenR, short for Generation Rescue, is a group of young and influential humanitarians between the ages of 25 and 40 who have joined forces with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help people survive and rebuild their lives.
Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees or connect us to affordable housing options.
What do refugees contribute to Oakland?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
Citizenship and Immigration Services in Northern California
The IRC's Immigration Department can help any immigrant population to petition to bring family members to the U.S., apply for citizenship, green cards, work authorization, travel documents, and more.
The Vision Project
Each year, tens of thousands of refugees fleeing violence and persecution resettle in the United States, including the Bay Area. Resettlement means a fresh start and opportunity, especially for adolescent girls whose futures had been limited by a lack of access to education and opportunities and restrictive ideas about women. Here. these girls have the chance to improve themselves, their families, and their communities. The Vision Project aims to empower refugee girls and change perceptions within their communities by providing girls with the skills and support they need to envision a positive future, and ultimately achieve their goals. The project runs three week-long workshops each year with resettled refugee girls, and each week culminates in a personal photoshoot for each girl where they embody their future selves.
GenR: Bay Area
Be a force for change in the Bay Area.
To be a refugee, you have to be open: otherwise it’s like running a hurdle race without having learned to jump. And the race is never over. It just gets better.Enes CericEnes Ceric is a Bosnian refugee resettled to Oakland, CA in 1994
refugees and special immigrant visa recipients resettle in the U.S.
Learn how refugees are selected and securely vetted to come to the U.S.How resettlement works
refugees, asylees and other immigrants with supportive programs.
The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war.See where we work in the U.S.
refugee-owned small businesses get off the ground.
Learn why refugees are good for the economy.Watch our video