Our story

In 2014, as we observed the many resources for recently resettled refugees in the U.S., we noticed a gap. We saw young adults from a refugee background who have so much potential to change the course of their futures (and those of their families) through education, yet who are trying to defy the odds against them by navigating a complicated higher education system on their own. 

These individuals encounter many of the same obstacles faced by other underrepresented, low-income college students, but often face additional, complex challenges, including: 

  • ​Limited English speaking abilities

  • Pronounced reading and writing deficits (that may go unnoticed if verbal communication is strong)

  • Limited high school experience aligned to college readiness

  • Lack of family assets, credit, or ability to fund higher education

  • Struggles working with an academic advising system unaccustomed to their unique needs

  • Few informal networks to explore career opportunities

  • Mental health challenges from past trauma, limited access to treatment, and ongoing demands of social integration

  • Financial stress (students are often the primary breadwinners because even basic language and job skills make them more employable than their parents)

  • Family strain as they exercise new independence and individual decision making not typical in their culture

  • Limited work experience and soft skills required in the workforce

 

With these unique challenges in mind, One Refugee was created to assist highly-motivated individuals from a refugee background who are attending college for the first time.

We have found that only a small portion of this population will succeed without assistance. Even then, the successful few often pay a heavy price financially and emotionally. The fact remains, young adults from a refugee background have the best chance to succeed and prosper. Helping them to fast-track their progress and avoid pitfalls is the main focus of One Refugee. When these young adults achieve their education and professional goals, they act as role models within the community and positive influences for future generations.

 

Since 2014, One Refugee has provided one-on-one mentoring and support to over 600 college students from a refugee background. We work closely with each student to provide intensive case management, educational mentoring (including connections to campus and community resources), professional development opportunities, and financial support to assist with tuition, textbooks, laptops, eyeglasses, dental care, and mental health support.  

 

We have now seen over 200 One Refugee students successfully complete their higher education and transition into meaningful professional careers! Our vision of a world where individuals from a refugee background are prosperous, feel at home, and give back to the communities in which they live is beginning to become a reality one student at a time. 

© 2020 ONE REFUGEE

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