Our Mission

Ithaca Welcomes Refugees (IWR) is a volunteer-led initiative, founded in December 2015, as a result of collective community reaction to the global refugee crisis.  IWR works to foster a welcoming and fair environment for refugees and at-risk immigrants in our region.

What We Do

Services and activities are designed to continue the development of Ithaca as a welcoming host community and include:

  • apartment set up and basic needs support
  • cultural and community orientation
  • financial assistance for resettlement and emergency support
  • education for the community on refugee and immigrant issues
  • fundraising and training for volunteers

Key Initiatives

In addition to ongoing activities, IWR actively works to address the long-term programming to address gaps in local community services, with the goal of reducing existing barriers to the integration and empowerment of refugees and at-risk immigrants.

Global Roots Play School (GRPS)

Global Roots Play School LogoGRPS is an initiative of IWR and helps refugee and immigrant families by providing affordable, accessible childcare to parents eager to learn English.

GRPS enables parents, often mothers, to attend English class, empowering them to seek opportunities for themselves, including employment. While tailored towards the BOCES schedule, GRPS welcomes all members of our community.

Since launching in September 2017, GRPS has served 24 children ranging from 18 months to 5 years old. GRPS families come from 13 countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Burma/Karen community, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Romania.

Response Projects

IWR Response Projects focus on responding to the specialized needs of both newly arrived refugee families and at-risk immigrants who have lived in the Ithaca area for a longer period. With their agreement, we offer support in taking steps to help them build self-sufficiency, and create a caring, welcoming community that surrounds each family or individual.

While one family may need support to connect their child to meaningful activities, another might need transportation, training, computer help, or help with finding consistent food support. Others might need help finding people in the community who speak their language. Or some may need all of the above.

Response Projects reduce isolation, and create a core group of supporters to accompany an individual or family on their journey as a new member of the Ithaca.

Ithaca Welcomes Refugees is a proud member of Welcoming America.

Welcoming America