Canopy NWA works to create a community where refugees are welcomed and equipped with all they need to build new lives.


Our Story

At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, dozens of us from across our community were heartbroken by the images we were seeing of innocent people washing up on the shores of Greece. We wanted to do something to help, but quickly found that there was no way for us to support refugees in Arkansas because there wasn't a resettlement agency in the state. While other states were taking in thousands of people a year, Arkansas wasn't effectively taking in any. But all across Northwest Arkansas, the grassroots interest in welcoming refugees only continued to grow. SO we decided to get organized and see what we could do to change that.

We first met in January 2016 in the Fellowship Hall of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. There were over 50 of us at that first meeting and most of us had never encountered each other before. We came from Fayetteville, Bentonville, Siloam Springs and everywhere in between, from evangelical non-denominational churches and Presbyterian churches, the NWA Islamic Center, Temple Shalom and everything in between. Some of us were staunch political conservatives, some die-hard liberals. But we all instantly connected as we went around the room and shared our hearts for this matter. While we might not have had much else in common, it was clear we were all united on one thing: we wanted to provide refugees with a good, safe home here in Northwest Arkansas.

So that’s what we set out to do. We formed a nonprofit in February of that year and began organizing to meet the criteria to become a refugee resettlement agency. We decided to partner with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and they guided us through the process. It took an incredible amount of work by an incredible amount of people, but to our amazement, just a few months later, in October, we were officially designated as a refugee resettlement site. By December, we welcomed our first refugee families from Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo and we haven’t slowed down since!


Canopy Northwest Arkansas

Board of Directors

Clint Schnekloth   Chair of Canopy Board & Head Pastor of  Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Clint Schnekloth

Chair of Canopy Board & Head Pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Dr. Donna Davis   Treasurer of Canopy Board & Research and Evaluation Specialist

Dr. Donna Davis

Treasurer of Canopy Board & Research and Evaluation Specialist

Matthew Showman   Secretary of Canopy Board & ESL Intstructor

Matthew Showman

Secretary of Canopy Board & ESL Intstructor

Angie Primm Coleman   Treasure of Canopy Board & Director of Accounting at Walton College of Business

Angie Primm Coleman

Treasure of Canopy Board & Director of Accounting at Walton College of Business

Frank Head    Director of Catholic Charities  and Catholic Charities Liaison for Canopy

Frank Head

Director of Catholic Charities and Catholic Charities Liaison for Canopy

Beth Keck   Practitioner-In-Residence China Studies The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Beth Keck

Practitioner-In-Residence China Studies The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Marcus Chang   Board member and Associate Head of School, Director of Campus Life, Thaden School

Marcus Chang

Board member and Associate Head of School, Director of Campus Life, Thaden School

Mike Rusch    CEO of Pure Charity ,  Board Member of Serve NWA , Veteran US Marine Corps

Mike Rusch

CEO of Pure Charity, Board Member of Serve NWA, Veteran US Marine Corps


Resettlement Team

Emily Crane Linn   Director of Resettlement

Emily Crane Linn

Director of Resettlement

Khalid Ahmadzai   Director of Employment and Integration

Khalid Ahmadzai

Director of Employment and Integration

Francisco Ayala   Case Manager

Francisco Ayala

Case Manager

Lauren Snodgrass   Director of Community Engagement

Lauren Snodgrass

Director of Community Engagement

 

Community Partners

Canopy Northwest Arkansas partners with many businesses, nonprofits and faith communities throughout Northwest Arkansas to connect our resettled refugees to resources needed for them to build a new life. We are so thankful for the support of our community! We couldn't do it without you! 

Note: We are still in the process of adding our partners. If you have partnered with Canopy and want to let others know about it through our page, please contact lauren.snodgrass@canopynwa.org

 
 
 
 
 
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Ozark Literacy COuncil

The Ozark Literacy Councils provides free English language lessons and classes to adults in Washington County. In 2018, we served more than 375 adult students from 50 countries around the globe. We help our students reach their goals of employment, financial security for their family, engaging in their children's educations, increasing community involvement, and obtaining U.S. citizenship. Ozark Literacy Council has more than 80 trained tutors who offer their time to give students a chance to learn and improve reading, spelling, grammar, writing, pronunciation, and conversational English skills.

 

COmmunity CLinic

Community Clinic offers health care services by providing comprehensive primary medical and dental care to Canopy families. Community Clinic’s mission is “Helping People lead healthy lives by providing health care for all in Northwest Arkansas.” Our goals are to increase direct services to the underserved while expanding access to affordable, quality, comprehensive health care for all. At Community Clinic, we support the Canopy resettlement programs by welcoming all refugee families to establish a medical home with us.

 

Furniture Friends

Providing rent free furniture to the NWA international community for 15 years. Furniture Friends was originally started to help furnish apartments for international students coming to the area to study, but has now expanded to helping Canopy provide furniture for our refugee families! We’re excited to partner with them as we welcome refugees home. Have furniture to donate or want to get involved? Click below!

 

Beautiful lives Boutique

Beautiful Lives Boutique is a nonprofit women's thrift boutique that provides women's fashion at thrift prices in our local community. All proceeds from sales go directly to help organizations like International Justice Mission “bring beauty and hope to the lives of women and children in crisis in our own community and around the world”. Beautiful Lives Boutique partners with Canopy NWA to provide our female refugee clients with clothing that makes them feel as beautiful and special on the outside as they are on the inside.




Fort smith adult education center

Serving refugees since 1975, the Fort Smith AEC helps teach our clients English through reading, writing, listening, pronunciation and speaking. Their goal is to prepare adults for the workforce or for higher education. The organization believes that refugee resettlement is great for our communities and are an "important and vibrant part" of Northwest Arkansas.

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Potter's house academy

Potter's House Academy has taken some of our refugee families children and enrolled them in their programs. They have helped improve their language skills and encourage them in their adjustment to a new culture. They believe that "a healthy community is a diverse community", part of which includes embracing new neighbors. 

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Rockin' Baker Academy

Rockin' Baker Academy offers training opportunities to our refugees who are looking to acquire trade and/or soft skills. They also hope to offer employment for refugees as the need arises.Their goal is to "enable self-sufficiency through on-the-job skills training. They believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to live productive lives and become active participants in society.

The Grove Church

The Grove Church has formed a co-sponsor group that is anxiously waiting to be matched with a refugee family. In the meantime, they have found opportunities to volunteer at several events such as the Mock Refugee Camp at the University of Arkansas. They believe that Canopy provides a unique opportunity to bring the world to our community. They are thankful for the refugee families who are now able to call Northwest Arkansas home because of Canopy.

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Ozark Guidance

Ozark Guidance has partnered with Canopy from the very beginning. They currently provide mental health care to our clients, when needed. Ozark Guidance also holds trainings about refugees and trauma to "better assist Canopy volunteers in working with those resettled in NWA". Their mission is to save and change lives by providing compassionate, quality mental health services.

Literacy Council of Benton County

The Literacy Council of Benton County offers free of charge English classes to Canopy refugee clients, but they have been teaching adults from all over the world since 1972. The Literacy Council has served students affiliated with Canopy, additionally they train tutors for our clients. They welcome the chance to play a small part in giving refugees a better life in the United States. They hope to continue to be of service to more refugees in the future.

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Catholic Charities immigration services

Catholic Charities Immigration Services has been incredibly instrumental in the formation of Canopy NWA. They helped Canopy form, and provided vital information toward the success of our organization. Catholic Charities Immigration Services is another refugee resettlement agency in Arkansas, located in Central Arkansas. 

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Students for Refugees

Students for Refugees empowers students to utilize their disciplines and resources at the University of Arkansas to advocate for the dignity of refugees and create an environment for refugee resettlement in Northwest Arkansas.  They have worked with Canopy NWA since our inception, and spearheaded the first Refugee Camp Experience at the University of Arkansas.

BEntonville Community Church

Bentonville Community Church is committed to ministries and partner organizations that help fulfill its calling to “extend life-giving community to our world.” They have completed co-sponsor training and are waiting on a family to be paired with. As they wait, they continue to support Canopy in various ways, believing this is what God has called them to do to help alleviate the global refugee crisis.

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Arsaga's Fayetteville Coffee Roasters

Since 1992, we at Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters have made it our goal to cultivate, through our cafes, community spaces where strangers can become neighbors and neighbors can become friends. Fayetteville is our home and we’re happy to partner with Canopy Refugee Resettlement in their mission to make Fayetteville a welcoming community for those who need one the most. We hope to make the resettlement process a little easier by providing coffee donations and spaces of welcome for Canopy volunteers and our newly resettled refugee neighbors.

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Grace Church

The Grace Church family is a diverse group of people from different cultures, faith traditions and points of view. This makes for some interesting conversations as we figure out together what it means to live in this world as God’s children every day. We learn from, listen to, pray for, spend time with and encourage each other. Most of all, we try to love each other as Jesus teaches. Working with Canopy and our refugee friends is a great way for us to tangibly do all of this. We’ve been blessed to work with and serve a refugee family of eight through Canopy and look forward to more of this family coming home to Northwest Arkansas soon. The work Canopy does to help refugees is invaluable and a huge asset to our community and the world. We’re proud to be a part of it.

 
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Adult Education Program

We support Canopy of Northwest Arkansas because we wholeheartedly believe in Canopy's mission.  Our past and current involvement has been to assist refugees through their process of learning the English language, improving their academic skills and integrating into the local community.  We plan to continue to be involved in this way andalways look forward to assisting new arrivals as they move to our community.  


Job and Internship Opportunities

Volunteer Management Internship— Spring 2020

Assists Volunteer Coordinator with recruiting, training, and managing volunteers. Helps facilitate apartment set-up for arriving families and works with volunteers and cosponsors in meeting the needs of Canopy’s refugee clients. This internship is unpaid, for credit.

For more information, see this job description. To be considered for this position, submit your resume and cover letter to Danielle Bennett at danielle.bennett@canopynwa.org by October 31.

Refugee Health Promotion Internship— Spring 2020

The Refugee Health Promotion Workshop Intern collaborates with the Director of Refugee Health Promotion in the execution of the Celebrate Wellness Refugee Health Promotion Workshop series, designed to increase health literacy among refugees living in Arkansas <2 years. The RHP intern also supports access to care by assisting with transportation to medical appointments.This internship is unpaid, for credit.

For more information, see this job description. To be considered for this position, submit your resume and cover letter to Joanna Krause at joanna.krause@canopynwa.org by October 31.

Child Education Internship— Spring 2020

Oversees after-school programming for refugee children that teaches the children about US culture, enhances their English language learning, provides them with academic support, and pairs them with mentors from the community. Coordinates with case management and volunteer management staff to enroll refugee children in after-school activities as appropriate. Provides or coordinates childcare when needed so that refugee parents can attend English class, cultural orientation or job training.

For more information, see this job description. To be considered for this position, submit your resume and cover letter to Emily Linn at emily.linn@canopynwa.org by October 31.

Refugee Services Internship— Spring 2020

During this internship, the intern will work directly with Canopy’s case management team to provide core services to their refugee clients. The intern will assist Canopy staff in conducting intake and exit interviews with refugee clients, taking clients to appointments, helping clients apply for documentation and benefits and keeping up client case files.

For more information, see this job description. To be considered for this position, submit your resume and cover letter to Francisco Ayala at francisco.ayala@canopynwa.org by October 31.