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State Convenings

The RRI convenes higher education leaders and other state actors to identify the gaps and opportunities that exist in ensuring new arrivals have a soft landing and supportive community. Such conversations generally include system and campus administrators, state government officials including the Office of New Americans, refugee resettlement providers, refugee support nonprofits, refugee community members, and local government leaders. 

On request, the NASH RRI has thus far helped organize statewide convenings in Rhode Island (Jan. 2022), Missouri (Feb. 2022), New York (Sept. 2023), and soon in Colorado (April 2024). Depending on the state actors’ goals and interests, a statewide convening can lead to forming a Community of Practice or “CoP.”

Communities of Practice

One of the RRI’s core activities is forging Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) statewide partnerships in the form of Communities of Practice (CoP). A CoP can support public higher education systems in facilitating statewide efforts to advance the social and economic inclusion of refugees and other forcibly displaced people.  The RRI is solicited to support the creation of a CoP by a member system, often with public funding for a specific initiative or program.

CoPs unite champions and allies to identify shared goals and leverage resources (financial and otherwise) for such efforts. The NASH RRI brings together national, state, and local technical expertise through regular CoP sessions to identify opportunities and obstacles and to facilitate SMART goal setting and implementation. CoPs build multi-sector coalitions within, across, and outside higher education systems to ensure the sustainability of their work.

Through our involvement with NASH’s Community of Practice we can tap into a myriad of resources and technical expertise that help us improve our outreach and our success.

Shannon W. Gilkey, Ed.D., Rhode Island Commisioner on Postsecondary Education

Kentucky: The Humanitarian Assistance Scholarship

In August 2022, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (KYCPE) commissioned NASH to help design the first ever statewide ‘Humanitarian Assistance Scholarship’ (HAS), following a $10M commitment from the Commonwealth’s legislature.   

Working with national experts, the NASH-KYCPE CoP convened monthly sessions in the 2022-23 academic year to successfully launch and implement the scholarship at more than 15 public and private institutions in Kentucky. As of December 2023, the scholarship has been awarded to 339 students. This CoP relies on additional the expertise of the Institute of International Education (IIE), Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH), amongst others. 

Read the Toolkit here


Rhode Island: RI Reconnect 

In January 2023, the RRI joined forces with the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) to strengthen refugees’ access to higher education and employment across the state. This included building on the success of “RI Reconnect,” a statewide RIOPC-led program whose goal is to connect adult students with educational navigators to help them in their efforts to return to school and/or receive job training, and be connected to employment opportunities.  

Inspired by the Kentucky model, this NASH-RIOPC CoP has since organized monthly targeted sessions bringing together dozens of local and national stakeholders to identify gaps in workforce pathway development for refugees and forcibly displaced persons across the state, and to co-develop a statewide strategy on how to take this work forward. Working closely with World Education Services (WES) and the American Immigration Council, the CoP has also been partially credited with successfully advocating for the state’s investment of $8M in RI Reconnect in June 2023. 

Read more about the Rhode Island CoP here


New York: Setting up for Success: New York First 

In June 2023, following Governor Hochul’s declaration of a state of emergency with the record number of asylum-seekers entering the state, NASH is working with the State University of New York (SUNY) to co-lead a new pilot project that will offer continuing education and technical training to eligible recently arrived asylum-seekers.  

Setting up for Success: New York First” (SUFS) is intended to run for 18 months starting in 2024. Through SUFS, up to six SUNY community colleges will leverage federal and state funding to provide continuing education and on-the-job training to recently arrived asylum-seekers. Working in lockstep with the New York Immigration Coalition, the Office of New Americans, the City of New York, Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) and others, this pilot will be assessed for potential scaling across many more of SUNY’s 64 institutions.