Advancement and Development

The Refugee Research Blog gathers together promising practices, data trends and research reports with practical relevance to practitioners in the field. The following presents a snapshot of current research and evaluation projects and educational materials. While some materials are open access, others may be available only to USCCB/MRS sub-grantees via the MRS My Membership’s encrypted access code.

Working Effectively with Volunteers
Refugee service organizations rely more than ever on a robust network of faith and community volunteers, considering the loss of dedicated line staff following the reduction in refugee admissions. Parishes and other community groups are vital partners in responding to newcomers’ needs and providing new life opportunities for them. This webinar features best practices from the Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees (POWR) program, which can be replicated to maximize in-kind contributions in the DOS/PRM Reception and Placement and DHHS/ORR Matching Grant programs. The workshop also explores how to effectively organize/maximize volunteer contributions, how to maintain healthy boundaries and how to keep volunteers engaged during times of low refugee arrivals. The webinar recording is here.

Start-Up Information and Guidelines for Dioceses
A comprehensive guide book that contains start-up information for new diocesan resettlement sites from A-Z. The guide, “Refugee Resettlement Ministry: A Call to Welcome the Stranger – Start-Up Information and Guidelines for Dioceses,” offers specific information about the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Admissions program, which covers the Reception and Placement Grant, the refugee security screening process, finance management, program operation and capacity development prospects.

New Site Analysis
New MRS sites may wish to use this  tool to take a holistic look at the proposed resettlement environment, assess resettlement capacity and design future interventions.

Resettlement Learning Tools
A collection of online learning courses related to refugee resettlement, which may be useful for diocesan staff training.

Promising Practices to Counter Anti-Refugee Sentiment
What can refugee service organizations do to counteract anti-refugee sentiment and work towards an inclusive vision for diocesan resettlement communities? We encourage you to look at this resource to learn how positive communications strategies and outreach to parish and community leaders can help create an environment in which all people can thrive. This backgrounder includes practical guides developed by Welcoming America, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Bridging Refugee Youth and Children Services (BRYCS), Amnesty International, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service as well as the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

Cost and Benefits of Refugee Resettlement
The current political discourse spotlights the economic cost of assisting refugees adjust to life in the U.S., but frequently leaves out the considerable benefits of welcoming newcomers. This backgrounder takes a comprehensive look at costs and benefits.

Refugee Integration Metrics
This exclusive research piece features a country-by-country overview of refugee integration approaches, allowing refugee service organizations to take a closer look at refugee integration outcomes and indicators in an international context. This overview includes the integration approaches of Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand.

Volunteer Screening Resources
MRS sites intending to bolster volunteer capacity may wish to take a look at the results of this survey, which was designed to assess the screening tools used by MRS diocesan resettlement sites for volunteer criminal background checks. Controlling costs related to background check is critical in light of the recent increase of volunteer interest.

Increasing Community Connections
Community engagement is a complex process that varies from community to community. This process occurs over time, across multiple integration pathways, and with stakeholders from both the arriving and receiving communities that are at various stages of engagement. In this MRS webinar presentation, Paul Stein explains how resettlement agencies can make strategic choices for community engagement in their specific environments. Daniel Sturm, USCCB/MRS Research and Evaluation Manager develops this perspective by providing some thoughts on programmatic implications of the RISE study by focusing on MRS’ initiative: Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees.

Parish Volunteer Kit
This presentation includes a step-by-step guide how your agency can strengthen its parish connections in an effort to boost volunteerism.

Research and Evaluation Projects
The Program Advancement and Evaluation unit reviewed a number of resettlement program challenges, including employment, capacity strains, volunteer impact and access to promising practices and outcomes data. The primary focus of the proposed projects on this list relate to improving resettlement services evaluation approaches, data analysis and promising practices research.

Refugee Research Blog
The Refugee Research Blog summarizes research findings on issues relevant to resettlement practitioners, including housing, economic integration, ESL, public assistance, refugee integration, social capital and faith community support. The blog is intended to help refugee service organizations to keeps abreast of important trends in the field with the goal of overcoming challenges.

Promising Practices – Refugee Camp Simulation
The Refugee Camp simulation program is an innovative program developed at Catholic Charities in Louisville, which is designed to raise awareness for the refugee cause. 

Promising Practices – Tea with a Nurse
The Tea with a Nurse health series is an innovative program developed at Catholic Charities in Cleveland, which is designed to help refugees understand U.S. health services. it has led, among other things, to a significant decrease of emergency room visits. It can easily be replicated by other MRS sites. 

Promising Practices – Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees (POWR)
The Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees Program is an innovative national initiative designed to boost volunteer capacity. POWR can easily be implemented elsewhere in the country. 

Promising Practices – Refugee Awareness Curriculum
The Refugee Resettlement Ministry Curriculum is a K-12 Catholic School curriculum developed at Catholic Charities of Jacksonville, which is designed to raise awareness for the refugee cause. It can easily be replicated elsewhere. 

Data Inventory
A comprehensive inventory of MRS Office of Resettlement Services data sources and external data sources, which shed light on MRS resettlement site performance outcomes and the social and economic environment.

Refugee Employment Benchmarks
The downturn in the U.S. economy has made it made it more difficult for refugees to find quick employment, even in the low-wage sector. What are the best strategies for helping newcomers find meaningful work? This interactive training discusses specific milestones – or “benchmark” – agencies should aim for as they are fine-tuning their employment services efforts.  This training module takes a holistic look at refugee employment services in an agency-wide context, discussing communications, job development strategies, employer relations and program development activities.

Refugee Career Advancement – Problems and Solutions
A significant number of refugees are unable to advance their careers beyond entry-level employment because they encounter career advancement barriers, including limited access to training, lack of language proficiency, course fees, limited time, and unreliable access to child care and transportation. This paper articulates solutions to helping both low-skill and high-skill refugees gain meaningful employment, beyond the entry-level.

Significance of Community in Resettlement
In this paper given at the Center for Forced Migration Studies Forum on “The United States Refugee Resettlement Program: A Global Model for Successful Humanitarian Response” on Dec. 3, 2015, Daniel Sturm discusses several key challenges in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, articulates research questions and proposes specific solutions.

Wilson-Fish Program Background Information
A background paper on the Wilson-Fish Program, to respond to the U.S. Office of Resettlement request for all national resettlement agencies to organize among themselves to be prepared, should ORR be forced to sever ties with a state and move to a Wilson Fish Model. If ORR is no longer able to work directly with a state they would need to quickly transition to a Wilson Fish Model.  The W-F program was established as an alternative to the public-private and state-administered refugee programs.

Why Do We Help Refugees? 
Talking points that cover core thoughts and beliefs on refugee resettlement ministry. This resource may be useful as you are making the case for refugees in your parishes and communities. The list also includes some important facts you may wish to use in an effort to counter myths about refugee resettlement.

English Language Learning
Overview of English language learning resources, which may be useful for programs attempting to professionalize ESL opportunities for refugees. 

Refugee Employment Guide
This issue presents a collection of refugee employment tools you might find helpful, as you are attempting to involve community/parish-based job mentors, in an effort to find meaningful employment for refugees. 

Volunteer Education Resources
This issue presents several volunteer education resources you may wish to utilize for volunteer education, program management, and more. 

Special Events Planning Tools
A collection of events planning resources you might find helpful, as you are attempting to organize special events to engage parishes, schools, volunteers and community partners.

Recruiting Volunteers Guide
A collection of volunteer recruitment tools and resources you might find helpful, as you are attempting to involve volunteers and intensify outreach efforts to parishes and community partners.

Visual Education Resources
A directory of video resources you may wish to utilize for parish/outreach events, or staff and client training on issues related to refugee resettlement, volunteering and more.

Countering “Alternative Facts” with Facts
This issue presents several talking points to provide your community with facts about refugee resettlement. This resource may be useful as you are making the case for refugees in your parishes and communities.

Online Learning Resources
This resource guide (Part I) includes an overview of several Internet-based university learning opportunities, including Coursera and Kiron. Kiron lists 18 partner universities and has staff based in Germany, Turkey and Jordan. Courses are offered in English free of charge in study tracks that include business, engineering, computer science and social science. I am enclosing brief project and web links.  Part II

Raising Funds for Refugees
Crowdfunding sites allow parishioners, friends, neighbors and complete strangers to fill the gap and cover refugees’ cost of living expenses, housing or travel loan payments. The following descriptions are excerpts from the vendor websites. While most apps are free, we advise you to carefully review the terms of services, prior setting up a crowdfunding site.

Employment in a Down Market (2010)
As the U.S. economy continues to falter, resettlement programs must work to help refugees adjust to a very competitive job market. What are the best strategies for tackling job development during a recession? In this session, we will exchange a host of best practices and solutions. Some industries have been more resilient during the recession, such as the small business sector and security and healthcare industries. Have you been able to make lemonade out of lemons? What strategies have you taken to diversify your employer base? What have you done to pursue funding for programs that help refugees find meaningful employment?

Office of Refugee Services Program Evaluation Survey
An annual survey to determine strengths and weaknesses of the MRS Office of Resettlement Services (Headquarters).