We're taking 2018 by storm!

2018 has been a whirlwind so far at Canopy! We've launched several new programs, organized some big advocacy events-- and we're really just getting started. Catch up on everything we've been doing, everything we've got coming up and how YOU can be involved:

New Programs: 


1. Investing in Tomorrow, Financial Literacy for Tyson Team Members. In partnership with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Credit Counseling of Arkansas, Canopy NWA has launched a pilot financial literacy class for immigrants and refugees at two Tyson plants in our area. This initial 8-week class has students from the Marshall Islands, Somalia, Mexico and El Salvador. In the absence of new refugee arrivals, we've really enjoyed the opportunity to serve a wider subset of the immigrant community! 


2. Women's Empowerment. Our volunteer coordinator, Miranda, has assembled a rockin' team of volunteers who are set to launch a women's empowerment program for refugee women in Northwest Arkansas. This program's mission is to bring women together to support each other, learn from each other and help each other pursue their goals for their new lives in the US. We can't wait to see where this goes. If you'd like to support this initiative, email miranda.black@canopynwa.org to find out how. 

3. Ongoing Cultural Orientation and Mentorship. We're working on developing a series of monthly cultural orientation workshops to help our refugee families learn how to navigate our community's systems and resources-- even long after they've finished our reception and placement program. We'll get started in March with a workshop to help all our clients complete their tax returns :) Do you have a topic you'd like to teach that you think could be helpful to our refugee clients? Do you want to help us facilitate these workshops or assist with transportation or childcare? Great! Email miranda.black@canopynwa.org and watch Better Impact, our volunteer management portal, for opportunities to volunteer. 

Upcoming Events: 

February 20, 6-8 pm: Advocacy Training. Come to the offices of Big Brothers Big Sisters to learn about how you can be an effective advocate for refugees in this crucial moment. Space is limited, so we ask that you register in advance on Better Impact. 

February 24,  4 pm: Refugee Night at Artists' Laboratory Theater. Come hear performances by and about refugees and learn more about the work Canopy does. Donations and tips will go toward our big trip to Washington DC. 

March 2, 7-8:30 pm: Movie Night Fundraiser at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Bring your whole family and join us in watching the award-winning film Coco. There will be a $10 suggested donation for admission to help us raise funds for our big trip to Washington DC-- all you can eat popcorn included.  

March 4, 5-8 pm: Kitchen Takeover at MOD in Bentonville. NWA Emerging Leaders and Modern Ozark Dining are teaming up to offer an incredible meal, inspired by Congolese refugees and benefiting Canopy NWA. You'll have the opportunity to taste Congolese cuisine, hear from some Congolese refugees and support the work that we do. Tickets are available now but they're going fast! Buy yours today. 


March 15-16: Trip to Washington DC! Canopy NWA is taking a group of 20 people from our community to Washington DC to meet with our representatives. This group will include refugees, co-sponsors, community members (some as young as 12), college students, pastors and businessmen, all eager to share their stories with our leaders on Capitol Hill. Many of these participants need to raise funds in order to make this trip possible-- so please consider giving to help them along their way, and/or attend the other fundraising events we are holding this month. 

As you can see, we are giving 2018 everything we've got! We're pushing our representatives to bring our refugee families home, we're expanding our services to reach more members of our community and we're creating new programs to allow us to serve our refugee families in new ways. None of this work is funded by the federal government-- it's only possible thanks to contributions from people just like you. To help us keep all this going, please consider giving a gift today! 

We are hiring!



We are sad (but proud) to announce that after a year and half of intense, foundation-building work with Canopy NWA, Rick Barry, our Employment Coordinator, is moving on to serve our country as an Army Officer. It was Rick's heart for public service that brought him to us-- and now it is taking him away to Officer Candidacy School. Rick hopes that this opportunity will equip him to be a better leader and will allow him to serve his country wherever it needs him most. Of course, it goes without saying that we couldn't be prouder of him. 

As sad as we are to see him go, we are excited for the opportunity to add a new person to our team and start a new chapter in Canopy's Employment Program. This person will play a foundational role in helping us launch two new initiatives this year: one aimed at providing employment services to non-refugees in our community and the other aimed at helping refugee families who need a little extra time and assistance to become self-sufficient. They will also teach a job readiness course, help place clients in jobs and expand Canopy's network of employers-- all with the goal of helping our clients become full, contributing members of our community. If this sounds like you, send a resume and cover letter to: emily.linn@canopynwa.org by February 21.


We're headed to DC-- and you're invited


Canopy NWA is headed to Washington DC, March 15-16 to meet with our representatives.

As a country, we have committed to resettling 45,000 refugees this year, but so far, we are on pace to admit about a third of that. Here in Northwest Arkansas, we are supposed to receive 75 refugees—and we already know 40 of them by name—but so far, we have received 0. Zero. We want to know why. The refugee ban is over, the resettlement program is funded, so where are our families? We have been asking and haven’t gotten any answers, so we’re headed to Capitol Hill to find out… And we want YOU to come with us!

Here are the details:

WHEN:  March 15-16
HOW MUCH:  $300-$450 per person + a few meals.
Why the price range? Well. If we get 40 or more people to sign up, we can charter a bus to drive through the night March 14 and back again March 16 ($200 per person). If we have a smaller group, we can fly in on March 15th and out on March 16th ($350 per person). Either way, we’re going to keep it as inexpensive as we can by reserving an affordable place to stay. And we encourage you to fundraise for your trip if you need a little extra help!   
WHAT:  Advocacy training, hill visits with our congressional delegation, and maybe some museum visits if we have time.
WHO:  Anyone! We’d love to get a large and varied group together: pastors, employers, college students, families with kids (8 and up). For our part, we’ll be bringing along some staff as well as some of our refugee clients, who are eager to share their stories on Capitol Hill.
WHY: We have 40 refugee men, women and children who have families, co-sponsor teams and employers waiting for them here in Northwest Arkansas. We need to find out why they aren’t traveling. We need to bring them home.  

Interested? Here’s what you need to do:

1) Fill out this brief registration form by February 2. Don’t worry—this isn’t a commitment, but it will give us an idea of how big a group we have, so we can start to reserve travel and accommodations, so please don't fill it out if you really doubt you can go. 
2) Attend one of two informational sessions at our office, 2592 N Gregg Ave, #40
             February 7 at 5 pm
             February 8 at 7 pm
By this time, we will know whether or not we can charter a bus and can give you a more precise estimate on cost.
3) Make a $200, non-refundable deposit by February 16 to reserve your spot
4) Pay the full balance for your trip by March 1.

Excited? We are too. Email Lauren Snodgrass if you have questions: lauren.snodgrass@gmail.com

Canopy to unveil art installation in Fayetteville

At 11 am on Tuesday, January 30, Canopy NWA will hold a press conference at St. Martin’s Campus Center (814 W Maple St.), to unveil a new temporary installation on the church’s property titled “Absence.” The installation will symbolize our community’s sorrow and frustration over efforts to hamper refugee admissions to the US—efforts that have kept 40 refugee men, women and children from being able to travel to their new home in Northwest Arkansas for over a year. Visitors to the installation will be prompted to join Canopy NWA in asking our elected representatives #WhereAreOurFamilies?

Following the unveiling, co-sponsors, refugee families and Canopy NWA staff will share stories of how restrictions to the refugee program have affected them personally, followed by time for questions from the press.

Canopy NWA will also participate in a prayer vigil at St. Martin’s Campus Center that evening at 8:15 pm, in collaboration with St. Martin’s, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Arkansas United Community Coalition and the NWA Justice Center. The prayer vigil will lift up all those affected by changes in policy to DACA, TPS and the refugee resettlement program, and will feature ”Absence” as a part of the liturgy. Media are invited to attend the prayer vigil as well.

The art installation will remain in place at St. Martin’s Campus Center from January 30 to February 27.


Where are our families?


It has been 169 days since our community welcomed our last refugee family.

Since then, President Trump’s third and final refugee travel ban has ended and a new federal fiscal year has begun. After much deliberation, President Trump announced that 45,000 refugees would be admitted to the US in this new fiscal year (from October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018). Canopy NWA was told that 75 of those refugees would come to Northwest Arkansas. But 4 months into Fiscal Year 2018, our community has received 0. None.

So we’re starting to ask: Where are our families?

In case you were wondering, this isn’t just an Arkansas problem. As a country, we’ve admitted 5,323 refugees so far. That puts us on pace to admit a mere 20,000 refugees this year—less than half of what was promised. That means that communities just like ours all across the US are asking themselves the same question: The ban is over, the president set a goal of 45,000, so why aren’t our families coming?


We know 40 of our 75 refugees by name already. Some of them have been ready to travel for over a year. The Bentonville Church of the Nazarene co-sponsor team has been storing furniture in their church basement for a year, waiting for a family who should have been here long ago. Where are they? The Mwenda family has been waiting for six months for their two adult children who they were told would travel right behind them. Where are they? Little Josepha from Rwanda has celebrated her 5th and 6th birthdays in a refugee camp while waiting for her chance to travel. Why couldn’t she celebrate them here?

Where are our families?

We don’t know the answer, but we do know the facts. We know that the Department of Homeland Security has greatly reduced the number of employees it is sending to conduct security interviews and medical screenings in the refugee camps. We also know that the President has questioned why he would want to admit immigrants from “sh*thole countries” such as Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. This leads us to wonder whether this administration is actually making an effort to admit the 45,000 refugees they have been funded to admit.

It is time for us to hold the president and the people who work for him at the State Department and Department of Homeland Security accountable to admit the 45,000 refugees they promised. To do that, we need our representatives in Washington to join us in asking “Where are our families?” Our Members of Congress have the authority to ask why these agencies are on pace to admit less than half the number of refugees in their mandate. We need them to exercise that authority on our behalf.

Last week, our very own Congressman Womack was appointed to become Chair of the House Budget Committee. We are grateful and proud that our representative occupies this seat of power, because that puts him in the perfect position to act on our behalf on this issue. He has repeatedly emphasized his support for our work and our refugee families, so we ask him to join us is asking: Where are our families?

If you’d like the congressman to help us bring our families home, call his DC office today: (202) 225-4301

Hi, my name is ______ and I live in (City). I am calling on behalf of the 40 refugees who are supposed to be resettled in my community in Northwest Arkansas. Some of them have been waiting for over a year to travel here and have not been able to. The refugee travel ban is over and the president has determined the US will resettle 45,000 refugees this year, but only 5,000 have been resettled so far—and zero have been resettled in Northwest Arkansas. I’m calling because I’d like Congressman Womack to publicly ask the Department of Homeland Security “Where are our families?”




Stepping, Determined, into 2018


Happy New Year, Northwest Arkansas!

We hope you all go the chance to take a break sometime in the last two weeks and spend some time with your families. 2017 was a big year for our community! It was full of challenges to our young refugee resettlement program: three separate refugee travel bans, cuts in federal funding, discouraging words from our elected officials about refugees and immigrants... But despite all that, we made some incredible things happen. Let's do a quick recap, shall we? 

          -We welcomed 55 refugees from 5 countries into our community
          -Students For Refugees hosted an incredible Mock Refugee Camp interactive exhibit, drawing huge crowds and attracting the attention of multiple national news organizations
          -Brightwater helped us throw our first ever Refugee Benefit Dinner-- and it was just as delicious and memorable as it sounds
          -We helped all our refugee adults find jobs-- and even some job upgrades! We now have refugees making an impact as teachers, mechanics, translators and cooks (and lots of other jobs too). 

AND to make it all that much sweeter, we closed out 2017 with an incredible end-of-year giving push:

We blew past our fundraising goal of $15,000 to close out the year with $19,000 in gifts, big and small. We definitely felt the love and our refugee families felt it too. To all of you who gave, we cannot thank you enough. 


Now it's time to look ahead. We don't know what challenges lie ahead of us this year. We continue to get worrisome signals from our President and other elected officials that they do not support our work-- and we're not sure what that means for us. But whatever happens in Washington, here in Northwest Arkansas, we aren't slowing down! We've got a lot coming in 2018: new programs, new families and new ways for you, our community to get involved in this life-changing work. 

New Programs: We just completed a survey of all of our refugee families to learn where they continue to need assistance and support 6+ months after they arrive. As you all know, we currently only provide direct services to our refugee families throughout our 90-day initial Reception and Placement program-- but we know they still need our support after those three months are over. In our first year, that support has been ad-hoc-- we respond to their needs as they come up-- but in 2018, thanks to the helpful data we gathered from this survey, we are going to roll out several new structured programs that our families can access to help them along their long-term journey toward self-sufficiency and integration. We'll keep you posted on these programs as we roll them out, but for now, we can tell you that they will focus on three key areas: 

  • Ongoing Language and Cultural Training
  • Legal Assistance
  • Mental Wellness

New Families: We are waiting for 75 refugees to arrive in Northwest Arkansas in 2018. We know already 40 of them by name-- some of them, we've been waiting for for over a year. They come from all over the world and have fascinating stories: some have advanced degrees, some are young orphans, some just had babies, some just lost husbands. We watch their stories from a distance and we wonder: do they know how much we love them already? Do they have any idea how eager their community is for them to get here? 

New Volunteer Opportunities: As we roll out our new refugee programs, we're going to need new volunteers, so if you haven't yet, go to our Volunteer Page and create a profile for yourself so that as soon as new opportunities become available, you can sign up for them! 

 Together with you, our community, we are stepping into 2018 determined.

Let's welcome refugees home!