NFR’s primary focus has been on refugee resettlement, using a co-sponsorship model in cooperation with U.S. State Department approved resettlement agencies as HIAS and Catholic Charities in New York and Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in Connecticut. Our model is designed to get the new family acclimated to their new home and on the road to self-sufficiency.
Our support starts before the family arrives by finding and furnishing an appropriately sized apartment. During the next 12 months, we provide financial assistance to pay rent and living expenses. We also provide transportation to doctor’s visits and other appointments, help family members find employment and learn their way around town, provide ESL lessons and much, much more. While our financial support usually stops at the end of 12 months, these latter services may extend another 12 months or more.
In addition to our direct resettlement efforts, we also work with other groups to collect winter clothing and other essentials needed by refugees.
Road to Independence Grants
NFR created a special grant called the Road to Independence Fund (Formerly named the Year 2 or Y2 Fund) to help refugees, asylees, and other eligible immigrants who no longer have assistance from sponsoring groups. The goal of the Fund is to enable refugees to continue to move forward and build a better life for themselves and their families in their second year and beyond. NFR has allocated funding, generously donated by members and supporters of NFR, to families and individuals with refugee or another immigration status, such as asylees. The Road to Independence (R2I) Fund provides small grants averaging $500.00-$800.00, sometimes more depending on the need, to meet a broad range of expenses that include household needs, job expenses, transportation costs, investments for a business venture, emergency medical bills, educational expenses, or unexpected legal costs.
If you are a group interested in applying because you oversee, work with or know of a family or individual in need, without other support, please contact Ruth Gyure at to receive an application form. More details about applying are included on the form.
Mask Making Initiative
We have been sponsoring eight refugees, from Syria and Afghanistan, to make protective masks for health workers and vulnerable populations. NFR transports all materials and masks back and forth, coordinates all communication with the refugees, and raises money to pay for their work via fundraising and grants. Some of the local facilities that have received these include The Osborn, White Plains Hospital Emergency Room, Montefiore New Rochelle, Greenwich Hospital, and The New Jewish Home. They have also gone to homeless shelters, nursing homes, and homes for disabled persons. This initiative appeared in on NPR.
COVID-19 Relief Fund
NFR identified several organizations that work directly with refugees in Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Upstate New York. Grants from this fund have helped families put food on the table, buy medicines, pay utilities, and pay rent. So far we have distributed $23,000 to 73 families, that's 265 people, through the following organizations:
Keeping Our Promise Rochester, One World One Love, Elena's Light, Welcome Home, RDJ RefugeeShelter, RIF Asylum Support, and Queer Detainee Empowerment Project.
We recently received a grant from United Way of Westchester and Putnam and continue to give out grants.
Students for Refugees Hello Future Hackathon
We gathered 30 high school students, primarily from Mamaroneck High School, to join a project called Hello Future, a mobile phone-based digital literacy program for adolescent refugees. They interacted with and competed against teens living in Iraq in Arbat Refugee Camp to develop a solution to COVID-19, tackling issues such as depression and lack of motivation, social interaction and structures, and the excessive use of Social Media. They met up every day for a week and created projects using Human Design Thinking. The projects bridged the two worlds in a compelling way.
“Boredom Buster Bags” for Refugees
We teamed up with our partner, Hearts and Homes for Refugees, to collect books and toys to help refugee families beat summer boredom. Bags went out to Westchester’s refugee families and asylum seeker families, as well as refugee families in Jersey City.
When we heard that 35 families were having trouble putting food on the table in Jersey City, we contacted their host organization, Welcome Home, no to see what we could do to help. Our response was to collect food and raise money for families to buy gift cards at their local grocery store. We also joined forces with Trader Joe's to provide food to some of our county's own refugee families struggling from the impact of COVID-19. In addition, our handmade masks went inside bags given to refugees in and around NYC by our partner, Tanabel.
Writing Group for Refugee Women
We teamed up with a Social Journalism (MA) student from CUNY to provide a writing workshop for refugee women. The on-going program includes 13 women and helps improve their English, while helping them express complicated emotions around their plights as refugees and living on America.
Business Incubator Program
One of the biggest challenges to self-sufficiency is employment that allows a family to afford to live in Westchester County (or elsewhere). In response, NFR launched its Business Incubator Program, which works with refugees who want to start their own businesses. Our program provides mentoring and support creating a viable business plan and helps them find funding to build their businesses.
In the last year, our Business Incubator Program has helped four refugee families begin their journey to running their own businesses.
Two of these women want to start a catering business serving Afghan food. We have helped with business planning and menu inception.
We have helped a Syrian woman organize and expand her seamstress business.
We are also working with a man who had a successful auto repair business in Afghanistan plan for opening an auto repair shop in Westchester.
For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advocacy & Education
We fulfill our mission to advocate for refugees and other new Americans by influencing legislation and other government actions at the local, state, and federal levels. We focus on increasing the number of people allowed to come into the U.S., improving benefits and rights once they are here and other asylee issues. Our advocacy work includes meeting with or writing to our representatives in the U.S. House and Senate, state and county governments regarding issues affecting refugees.
NFR has teamed up with a local bookstore (Anderson’s BookStore) to launch its “Third Thursdays @ 3” program, during which time people can stop by and write postcards to their representatives expressing their opinions on varying issues. Recent issues include: opposition to the “Back to Mexico” program and the Secure and Protect Act (S.1494), and support for the GRACE ACT (Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act, HR2146/S1088) and the No Ban Act. HR 2214.
In addition to advocacy, NFR believes there are a lot of misconceptions out there about refugees and asylees. We are now conducting frequent Zoom conversations with founders of local refugee organizations to discuss their work and what we can all do to help. Previous discussions have involved COVID’s Impact on Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
Students For Refugees
NFR also supports the Students For Refugees group at Mamaroneck High School. This group volunteers at NFR's community events, tutors and babysits refugee children, plans outings for the families, and holds fundraisers to both support refugees and raise awareness about their plight. They also hold postcard writing sessions to communicate important messaging to local legislators, U.S. State Senators, and congressmen.