Our vision is to see refugees and our community model thriving together. Long Welcome is the way we do that.
Our Long Welcome Plan
From October 2018 to May 2019, we committed ourselves to developing a 3-5 year strategic plan to carry out this new vision: our Long Welcome Plan. We began by conducting focus groups with our refugee families, asking them to define “thriving” for us and help us understand the obstacles that are getting in the way of that vision. We learned so much about our families’ dreams for the future— and the fears and challenges that stand in the way today. We also heard from our co-sponsors, volunteers and community partners, and we researched best practices and recommendations from case studies in other areas of the country. Then finally, we took all this data and we distilled it into a one-page document: our Long Welcome blueprint. We decided to use a model called a Theory of Change, working backwards from our end goal and identifying the necessary steps to make it happen.
The End Goal: across generations, all family members are full contributing members of our community.
That’s how we’re defining “thriving” for purposes of this plan. All family members, across generations are able to fully contribute to and participate in our community. That’s what we’re working towards. In the next 3-5 years, our vision is to have the programs and the resources in place so that all of our refugee families can achieve this experience within 5 years of arrival in the US.
The Gaps: currently, canopy’s programming focuses on getting refugees to that first milestone of meeting basic needs
But there’s so much more that lies between that first milestone and our end goal— and that’s the space where we’ll be focusing in the next 3-5 years. The main gaps we’ve identified are:
Services for youth and children: If our vision is for all generations to be full, contributing members of the community, then we need to be investing just as many resources in youth and children as we invest in their parents— maybe more.
Language acquisition: Our clients are eager to learn and improve and our partners are eager to connect with them. But we need to figure out how to collaboratively bridge the gaps and remove the barriers that make it hard for our clients to continue to make consistent steady progress toward English fluency.
Mentorship and social support: Our co-sponsors do an incredible job of getting our families on their feet and plugged into community in their 6-month commitment, but we need others to pick up where our co-sponsors leave off, to continue to provide mentorship, guidance and support for our families as their needs change.
Ongoing navigation and case management: Life in the US is complicated and it’s inevitable that our families will face challenges and situations they don’t know how to navigate. It would make all the difference for our families to know they have someone they can call on to help them move around obstacles when they come up.
Career advancement and entrepreneurship: Our clients are eager to get to work as soon as they arrive, and they’re happy to jump with both feet into whatever job they can find in 90-180 days. But frequently that starter job doesn’t come close to utilizing all their skills and experience. We want to help our clients unlock their full potential!
Asset building: Our families have dreams of sending their children to college, buying houses and cars and starting businesses— and they’re willing to put in the work to make those dreams happen. They just need help navigating our financial system and a little support as they get started.
Leadership development and civic engagement: Our clients have great ideas for how to make our community and our country a better place. They just need to be empowered to lead and given a platform from which to speak.
Health and mental health: Whole bodies and minds are essential for our clients to be “full contributing members of our community.” Our families need help navigating our complex healthcare system, learning how to keep themselves healthy here and accessing programs to support their mental health.
bottom line: We’ve got our work cut out for us
Making It Happen
Phase 1: May-September 2019
Stabilization and planning
Our first step is to go through these identified gaps and decide what our priorities should be for Fiscal Year 2020 (beginning October 2019). We need to start by taking stock of our current resources and make sure we have what we need to meet the needs of our existing programs. Then, we need to evaluate what we’ll need to be able to tackle our strategic priorities for the coming year and begin putting those resources in place so that we can begin making this Long Welcome Plan a reality.