Worcester is home to the state’s second-largest population of immigrants, who run many of its businesses, form a major portion of its workforce, and bring new life to its neighborhoods.

When immigrants and refugees first arrive after leaving their homelands in search of better lives, they find guidance and resources through local nonprofits large and small. Foundation grants help these organizations meet the needs of newcomers, many of whom arrive with little but hope.

Among these grantees is the Worcester Community Action Council (WCAC), a county-wide antipoverty agency. In 2021 and again in 2022, the State of Massachusetts chose the Foundation to administer funds to assist undocumented immigrants. The Foundation partners with WCAC to distribute these funds through Catholic Charities of Worcester County, Friendly House, and the Southeast Asian Coalition. WCAC will soon run a pilot to test how guaranteed income can help families begin building savings.

Together with our partners, we provide not just cash but also critical supports, with care and respect. Our partners have relationships as trusted places where refugees and immigrants, regardless of their legal status, can obtain wraparound support. We continuously collaborate to meet clients’ urgent needs and stave off crises.

- Marybeth Campbell, Executive Director, Worcester Community Action Council

When more than 600 Afghan refugees arrived in 2022, Worcester’s resettlement agencies collaborated to rapidly provide housing, food, and warm clothing. Front-line responders included Welcoming Alliance for Refugee Ministry (WARM), whose hundreds of trained volunteers supported and befriended the many Afghan families who spent their first months in hotels. WARM volunteers organized outings for children at gyms and parks as well as social events for women such as sewing circles and English classes that continue now that families are in apartments. An embroidery group started a small business, Saffron Threads.

Through trusting relationships, we learn and respond to newcomers’ needs with creative solutions that empower them and ease their transition into our community.

- Jennifer Frye, Executive Director, Welcoming Alliance for Refugee Ministry