How to help refugees in Charlotte through new ‘Welcome Corps’ initiative
From the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan to the war in Ukraine, the world has faced no shortage of international events creating refugee crises in recent years. And the federal government is launching a new program to help ordinary Americans provide hand-on aid to the surging number of people in need.
The Welcome Corps, announced this month, will give people around the country the chance to sponsor refugees and help them with everything from finding housing to getting their kids in school and more.
Here’s what to know about the Welcome Corps program, how to get involved and other ways to help refugees in the Charlotte area:
What is Welcome Corps?
Welcome Corps is a just-launched federal initiative to create a system for private citizens around the country to provide assistance to refugees resettling in the U.S.
“The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades,” the State Department said in its release announcing the project.
People will be able to create “Private Sponsor Groups” — made up of at least five adults “who live in or near the same community” — who will then help refugees in their community find housing, get household items, find jobs, enroll their kids in school and more.
Additionally, “sponsors must raise a minimum of $2,275 in cash and in-kind contributions per refugee newcomer being welcomed.”
“This is used to secure and furnish housing and provide for the refugee’s initial basic needs until they secure employment,” the group explains.
A sponsor’s responsibility lasts through at least the first 90 days the refugee they’re supporting is in the U.S.
Welcome Corps is run by the State Department and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, both of which are working with “a consortium of nonprofit organizations with expertise in refugee resettlement” to launch the initiative.
How to participate in Welcome Corps in Charlotte
You’ll need to complete a multi-step process to become a sponsor through Welcome Corps.
First, you need to attend an informational webinar. Sessions are “held weekly on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. ET” starting Jan. 26, and you can register for one at welcomecorps.org/get-started.
Once you’ve gone to an information session, you’ll need to form your “private sponsor group,” complete a background check, attend further training and information sessions, put together your group’s “welcome plan,” start your fundraising and submit your formal application.
If you’re interested in getting updates on further opportunities to participate in the Welcome Corps, you can sign up for email announcements at welcomecorps.org.
Other ways to help refugees in Charlotte
In addition to the Welcome Corps program, there are multiple other organizations in the Charlotte area aiding in refugee resettlement, including:
Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency: This group takes volunteers to help with handling donations, driving refugees to appointments, providing meals, interpreting and more. For details on how to volunteer, visit carolinarefugee.org/volunteer. For information on how to donate household items or make a financial contribution, visit carolinarefugee.org/donations.
Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte: The Diocese has a Refugee Resettlement Ministry and takes volunteers to help collect and organize donations for refugees. Those with administrative skills, a legal background or who are bilingual can also volunteer to help with immigration services. For details on how to volunteer, visit ccdoc.org/volunteer-in-charlotte.
Cross Cultural Resources Inc.: This nonprofit organization helps provide interpreters and translators for refugees and immigrant communities. To make a donation, visit ccrlanguages.com/donate.php.
International House: This group provides a variety of services, including immigration law clinics, adult English classes and career preparedness. For information on how to volunteer, visit ihclt.org/volunteer. To make a donation, visit ihclt.org/support-us.