Skip to content
RRI Champion Network

About the RRI Champions Network


Many dedicated individuals on campuses and surrounding communities have been doing exceptional work supporting refugees and other forcibly displaced persons on their campuses. But their work is often siloed, or may go unnoticed by their colleagues and campus or system leadership.

In order to build strength in numbers and greater public visibility, NASH has created the RRI Champions Network, connecting over 650 faculty, students, staff, and wider campus community “champions” across the country working on refugee welcome and resettlement. 

The RRI provides technical and strategic support to RRI Champions; organizes quarterly meetings of the RRI Champions Network; engages in public visibility highlighting RRI Champions’ impacts across NASH’s social media; and connects campuses to activities listed below. Through the network, RRI Champions support and learn from each other and test out new ways to engage in making their campuses more welcoming to newcomers. In 2024, concerted efforts are planned to expand student leaders' participation in the network.

Join the Champions Network Now

Featured Champions

Jessi Kalambayi

Program Manager, Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality


Deirdre Hand

Co-Founder, Elimisha Kakuma


Bernhard Streitwieser

Director, Refugee Educational Advancement Lab (REAL)


NASH RRI Catalyst Fund Awards


NASH’s Catalyst Fund was created to recognize and incentivize NASH members’ big ideas that, once proven to work, have the potential to be scaled not only across a single system but amongst peers around the country. Established in 2021, the RRI Catalyst Fund seeks to seed, test, and scale new and existing innovations on campuses that take creative and impactful approaches to welcoming and supporting refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.

The Fund makes awards ranging $5,000-$50,000 to NASH member systems and their institutions. With five awards issued thus far, these funds have truly had a catalytic impact on local refugee resettlement efforts. For example: 

  • NASH’s early and modest investment in RI Reconnect is credited with seeding $8M in state funding in Rhode Island; 
  • NASH’s seed investment in scaling its partner, Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) chapters, across the Washington State University system; and 
  • NASH’s supplementary support to the Humanitarian Assistance Scholarship, has helped create a peer-to-peer navigator program at Western Kentucky University.

In 2024, the Fund is assisting in the design of an integrated and coordinated statewide refugee support system in Colorado and in conducting an in-depth evaluation of the University of Maryland’s recent experience in hosting refugee families from Afghanistan, and more. It is expected that an additional $100,000 will be disbursed in 2024. 


Apply to the NASH RRI Catalyst Fund Now