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State Convenings

Upon request, the NASH RRI can convene higher education systems and other state actors to identify the gaps and opportunities that exist in supporting the social and economic inclusion of refugees and other forcibly displaced people.  Such conversations generally include system and campus administrators, state government officials including Offices for New Americans, refugee resettlement providers, refugee support nonprofits, refugee community members, and local government leaders. We have helped set up convenings in Rhode Island, Missouri, New York, and soon in Colorado.  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 NASH 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.  In the process, the CoP helps build multi-sector coalitions within, across, and outside higher education systems to ensure sustainability.  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.

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 Commissioner on Postsecondary Education

Kentucky: The Humanitarian Assistance Scholarship (HAS)

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 $10 million 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 17 public and private institutions in Kentucky. As of December 2023, the scholarship has been awarded to 339 students. This CoP relies on the additional 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 includes 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 and the American Immigration Council, the CoP has also been partially credited with successfully advocating for the state’s renewed 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

NASH is working with the State University of New York (SUNY) and nonprofit Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR) to lead a coalition across the 64-campus SUNY system that will offer continuing education and technical training to refugees and other eligible migrants.

Setting up for Success: New York First” (SUFS) is mobilizing a dozen SUNY community colleges to provide continuing education and on-the-job training to refugees and other eligible migrants, through innovative ‘fast track educational models’ and by leveraging available federal and state funding.  Working in lockstep with New York State, New York City, and others, this 2-year pilot is expected to launch in August 2024 and will be assessed for potential scaling across New York, and elsewhere.