New Initiatives Aim to Create Welcome for Refugees in North Carolina

The Linking Communities (TLC) Project: Creating Welcome for Refugees, now in its second year, is pleased to announce that it will fund six local projects in North Carolina. TLC, a collaborative project coordinated by HIAS, grew out of a HIAS report recommendation to build capacity at the local and national levels to generate and maintain broad-based commitment to refugee resettlement in local communities throughout the United States.

Due to high unemployment rates and budget deficits, some communities have begun to question the costs of resettlement and oppose the arrival of new refugees. To address this grassroots problem, HIAS proposed a grassroots solution: funding local groups to support innovative initiatives that highlight the benefits of refugee resettlement. In North Carolina, these include: annual reports on refugee communities, networking and informational workshops, art therapy programs for newcomers, international cooking/dinner events, digital storytelling projects and more.

This year, the initiatives in North Carolina chosen by TLC Project partners* will receive between $2,000 and $8,000, and will build upon the great strides made during the project’s pilot year. 

“The diversity and high caliber of the projects receiving funding this year will go a long way in creating welcoming communities for refugees in North Carolina,” said Melanie Nezer, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at HIAS. “The initiatives chosen will help promote refugee resettlement and contribute to the national movement to improve the environment for refugees in our local communities.

Funded initiatives in North Carolina:

Charlotte Awake—a program of Ministry Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina—will develop and distribute narrative-driven infographics via social media, traditional media, and public display to tell the stories of different local refugee families and to provide data-driven infographics to the public. 

Church World Service Greensboro Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Program—working closely with the Center for New North Carolinians, North Carolina African Services Coalition, and the City of Greensboro International Advisory Council’s Department of Human Relations—will develop, promote, and distribute a Greensboro Annual Report on Refugee Communities to inform and engage residents, city government officials and other community stakeholders on the economic, social and cultural contributions of refugees. 

Project 658 will hold monthly networking and informational workshops in Charlotte, North Carolina for refugees and the community at large to create a more welcoming atmosphere for refugees.  Topics will include refugee resettlement, providing services once refugees have arrived, and advocacy growth. 

The Art Therapy Institute—in collaboration with the Transplanting Traditions Community Farm, Durham Public Schools, and Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools—will expand its already successful art therapy program for newcomers by providing ESL art therapy classes in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro City Schools and the Durham Public Schools.  Art therapy will help refugee adolescents tell their stories, and the work will be disseminated through social media and a public art show catered by local refugee farmers.

The City of High Point, North Carolina’s Human Relations Department—in collaboration with World Relief High Point—will expand the Building Integrated Communities Initiative started in 2011 by holding a series of three international cooking/dinner events that will be free and open to the public.  A cookbook will be created that will be available to dinner participants and the community. 

The American Friends Service Organization will bring together two already existing programs—the North Carolina Immigrant Rights Program and the North Carolina Economic Justice Program—to work on a digital storytelling project that allows young refugees and youth of different cultures to analyze and record their experiences through a human rights lens. 

For more information about TLC or the grantees, please visit To speak with the project coordinator, please contact

*TLC Project partners:

HIAS; the Center for Applied Linguistics; Church World Service; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services; the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, working closely with Welcoming America and Refugee Council USA.

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