Alaska Refugee Relief

Alaska Refugee Relief is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit located in Anchorage Alaska. Our primary focus is to assist refugees in Alaska, primarily those in the Anchorage region, and often from Somalia. We offer our services to any refugee in the region and inclusive of those who reside outside of Anchorage. Our dedication is to quality education, training, and coaching to assist their assimilation into their new life in the United States of America.

Organizational History

Established in 2015, Alaska Refugee Relief’s mission is to provide resources and promote self-sufficiency to new Somali and other refugees. We strive to provide education in the areas of employee training, citizenship and economic empowerment. We also provide cultural and social support. Our educational opportunities for adults and children include the following: immigration and citizenship assistance, senior citizen services, public safety awareness, interpretation and translation, employment and job training, ESL classes, and summer youth programs. We have offered assistance to well over 500 clients.

The Problem

Refugees are challenged in ways that many are unaware. Their challenges range from language barriers, education and employment resources, and academic support for the children. These are the basic services needed, which is to be considered in addition to the realities of the change in culture, location, reality, and daily lives that they have recently moved from. Adjustment can be challenging without proper support and resources. Examples of basic daily challenges that many refugees face include:

  • More than 90% of refugees require an interpreter when they visit any public or private office. This includes medical and dental appointments, parent-teacher conferences, setting up
    childcare or even going to a grocery store to get a money order for their housing rent.
  • Basic life skills are impacted due to the drastic contrast in systems that they are familiar with, in addition to the language barriers they face. This can create trauma within the home as
    frustration and ability to take care of basic needs is made difficult due to lack of awareness and limitations on ability to  communicate.
  • There is a shortage of customized employment support and coaching opportunities that meet the unique needs of refugee parents and adults.
  • There is also a need for academic support for K-12 refugee students outside the classroom. Grade level determination in the United States is based upon age, however that is not always in alignment with the student’s previous academic exposure or skill levels. As such, it is essential that K-12 academic support, in their native tongue, is available to assist them in overcoming the challenges of being academically misaligned in the classroom in which they are placed.

Program

Our mission is to provide information and promote self-sufficiency through employment, education, and economic empowerment for both Somali and other refugees in Alaska, particularly Anchorage. We also provide cultural and social support for refugees regardless of color, race, ethnicity, or religion. Services provided include:

  • Educational opportunities for adults and children
  • Immigration and citizenship assistance
  • Senior citizen services
  • Public safety awareness programs
  • Interpretation and translation services
  • Employment and job training
  • ESL classes
  • Summer youth programs

Measurement and Evaluation

Our current outreach community is between 400-500 people. In order to measure results, we have various systems in place to measure our effectiveness and evaluate the success rate of our services and that of the participants. Examples include:

  • Attendance records for all classes
  • Non-class computer lab time documented for duration and use
  • Clients are given a pre-computer skills assessment to determine their level of competency.
  • Throughout the various classes and training programs, clients will be evaluated periodically to build upon obtained skills.
  • Volunteers and staff will be required to maintain class diaries, which will document the lesson, plans, activities and other notable events. This will be sent to and reviewed by the executive
    director and board members through email at which point program changes will be considered if needed.
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