Capstone Recap: Supporting Refugees, Immigrants, and Asylum Seekers

Seven local nonprofits present their approaches to promoting the successful advancement of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers
Adrian Ventura of Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores at the podium
Adrian Ventura of Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores presents at the Capacity Camp Capstone event on April 12, 2018

On Thursday, April 12, the Social Innovation Forum (SIF) hosted a Capstone Event for participants of SIF’s second Capacity Camp program. Hosted at The Boston Foundation, the event drew an audience of 92 potential funders and supporters and featured pitches from seven local nonprofit organizations whose work focuses on promoting the successful advancement of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. With three minutes to make their cases to the room, the participants engaged and inspired the audience, whom we hope will go on to support the participants’ work.

The Capstone Event marked the end of Capacity Camp, an eight-week program designed to build the capacity of innovative nonprofits and provide them with a set of valuable tools to help move their organizations to the next stage of development. The Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative, a group of funders that came together with SIF in early 2017 to support local organizations working on these critical issues, sponsored the program.

As the first SIF programming focused specifically on immigrants and refugees, working with this group of organizations offered the SIF team new opportunities for learning and growth. One such opportunity presented itself with the inclusion of interpreters to ensure language equity at the event, which featured several multilingual organizations. An Access Consulting team offered headsets to all attendees at the door, translating presentations from English to Spanish and Spanish to English as required throughout the event.

Given the multicultural nature of the Immigrant and Refugee Capacity Camp, the language barriers that emerged throughout the process drove our team to consider new ways to ensure that we are providing equitable and responsive service to our diverse portfolio of organizations. The experience further prepared us to incorporate interpretation services at future events for attendees who require them.

Orlando Watkins, Senior Director of Philanthropic Partnerships at the Boston Foundation, opened the event with welcoming remarks. Susan Musinsky, Executive Director of SIF, offered the room a summary of SIF’s work and the journey that led from SIF’s decision to focus on nonprofits working in the immigration field to the Capacity Camp’s culminating event. Megan Reilly of the Clowes Fund, a member of the Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative, described the creation of the Collaborative, noting how the aftermath of the 2016 election pressed on its partners a heightened level of urgency to support immigrants in Massachusetts.

 The bulk of the event’s program followed, with all seven presenters taking three minutes to pitch their organizations’ missions, growth strategies, and capital needs to the room. The participants included:

  • Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores, which empowers immigrant workers to obtain justice and dignity in the workplace.
  • La Comunidad, providing ESOL and citizenship classes, legal immigration services, workforce development, and translation to help refugees and immigrants adapt to life in the United States.
  • English for New Bostonians, which creates opportunities for adult immigrants to learn English and pursue their goals of economic advancement, education, and civic participation.
  • Justice at Work, which provides legal, language, and cultural support for immigrant workers.
  • Matahari Women Workers’ Center, which works to end gender-based violence and exploitation through community organizing, leadership development and empowerment, and community change.
  • Mujeres Unidas Avanzando, which provides low-income Latina girls and women with the tools and resources to empower themselves.
  • The Welcome Project, which strengthens the capacity of immigrant adults, youth, and families to advocate for themselves and influence their communities.

“I was moved and impressed by the Capacity Camp Participants, and the incredible strides they made to tell their compelling stories of impact in such a condensed time frame,” said Nahir Torres of the Hyams Foundation (also a member of the Collaborative), who delivered closing remarks at the event. Following the presentations, attendees and presenters had the opportunity to mingle and network over coffee, in conversations that we know will lead to further support and growth for these organizations.

The Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative made this Capacity Camp a reality, helping to shine a spotlight on seven innovative nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in greater Boston. The camp would also not have been possible without the dedication of the lead consultants, guest speakers, and the hardworking team of volunteer coaches who worked with the participants each week to refine their pitches. At SIF, we know that the work does not end here. We look forward to watching these groups continue to scale their impact and play a constructive role in the lives of immigrants and refugees throughout greater Boston.

The Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative

Ansara Family Fund, Barr Foundation, The Clowes Fund, Hyams Foundation, Landry Family Foundation, Macomber Family Fund, Suhrbier Family Fund, and John H. and Naomi Tomfohrde Foundation

June 2018 Social Innovation Forum Capacity Camp

In partnership with State Street Foundation, the Social Innovation Forum will run another Capacity Camp starting in June 2018 focused on Workforce Development. Through group sessions and one-on-one coaching, the seven participating organizations will build organizational capacity and expand their networks. The sessions will focus on fundraising, communications, and prestantion skills. 

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