St. Louis Welcome Fund Announces Second Round of Grant Recipients
Since May 2022, the St. Louis Welcome Fund, which supports refugees, humanitarian parolees, and asylum seekers settling in the St. Louis area, has awarded more than $565,000 to 21 organizations serving this population. In October, additional grants totaling $65,800 were made to seven nonprofits providing mental health and legal services to people who have arrived in the US since fall 2022.
Generous donations, including one $30,000 gift from an anonymous donor inspired by recent news coverage, made these Welcome Fund grants possible.
All grant decisions were made by the Welcome Fund’s Oversight Committee. This committee is comprised of several institutional grant makers with experience funding organizations that work with foreign-born populations.
|Bilingual International Assistant Services||Mental health and/or legal services|
|Casa de Salud||Mental health services|
|LifeWise STL||Mental health services|
|Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project||Mental health and/or legal services|
|Saint Louis Crisis Nursery||The Latinx Outreach Program and its mental health services|
|St. Francis Community Services||Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry’s legal services|
|VITENDO 4 AFRICA||The Refugee Children Mental Health program and other mental health services|
Grant Dollars Create Lasting Impact
Bilingual International Assistant Services quickly used dollars from the first round of St. Louis Welcome Fund grants to engage Rahmatullah Hamdard, a full-time, trilingual Afghan case worker who assisted evacuated Afghan families with case management and resource coordination.
Hamdard fled Kabul along with his family in August 2021 and arrived in St. Louis soon after. His fluent English and background in nonprofit services helped his family independently find safe housing and secure employment. He is now dedicating those skills to helping Afghan refugees in St. Louis do the same.
“Rahmatullah’s skills are vital as we help Afghans who are not eligible for existing federally funded services possibly because St. Louis was not their initial resettlement destination, or they were not included in the initial evacuation effort,” says Jason Baker, PhD, Executive Director of Bilingual International.
Many of those he assisted were young men with varying degrees of English proficiency who found themselves in a new city, without family or support structures around them.
“Rahmatullah was able to tap into both agency support mechanisms and community-based resources to help stabilize these individuals and set them up for success,” says Baker.
In late 2022, when the federal government announced funding to support Afghan evacuees (Services for Afghan Survivors Impacted by Combat – SASIC), Bilingual International leveraged work made possible by its grants from the St. Louis Welcome Fund to secure an additional $1.8 million dollar SASIC award for the region.
One of 24 SASIC programs nationwide, Bilingual International now operates an Afghan-led and staffed support team of case managers (including Rahmatullah) and mental health professionals to work with Afghan families in St. Louis. In just six months, more than 180 Afghan refugees living in St. Louis have enrolled in the program.
“While barriers to housing and legal services still exist for our Afghan families, responsive investments by St. Louis funders helped us significantly boost our capacity of available services serving this vulnerable population,” says Baker.