by Isabel Rojas
Community Collaborations Director

October was an exciting month for refugee community advocates and leaders. The Utah State Refugee Office hosted their Annual Refugee Conference with workshops for refugee service providers as well as refugee community members and leaders. We also had the privilege to hear from Esklnder Negash, Director of the National Office of Refugee Resettlement who brought a valuable national perspective and was able to tour our local resettlement agencies and other partners while he was here.

UWSL’s Promise Refugee Youth Partnership hosted two breakout sessions highlighting the need to collaborate to a higher degree of rigor in order to change the outcomes for refugee youth and families.

Krystal Rogers-Nelson, Youth Program Coordinator, International Rescue Committee had this to say about her experience:

“I had the privilege of attending the refugee conference for the first time this year and to participate in two break out panels during the afternoon sessions. After being inspired with refugee stories by Kirstin Cox in the morning, it was rewarding to be able to participate in a panel representing the International Rescue Committee alongside our director, Patrick Poulin as well as Shae Bourdeaux from Catholic Community Services, Lina Smith from Asian Association of Utah, and Isabel Rojas from United Way of Salt Lake.

It was exciting to have the opportunity to have a conversation with other service providers about the power of working collaboratively across agencies to help ensure our refugee youth in Salt Lake are graduating high school and applying for college. It was the first time that we presented as a group to the broader community about the Collective Impact Partnership between IRC, AAU, CCS, United Way of Salt Lake and Horizonte. We were able to explain the tenants of Collective Impact and share with the group the progress we have made so far in tracking the schools refugee youth are attending and tracking report cards to see their progress.  We were also able to talk about some of the challenges we have faced throughout the process.

For me, the most rewarding part of the conference was to meet and talk with refugee youth service providers in the community and brainstorm possibilities for collaboration moving forward.  I am looking forward to expand our partnership and tap into all of the existing resources possible to make sure that refugee youth who may be struggling will get the support they need to succeed.” 

United Way of Salt Lake’s Promise Partnerships are committed to a non-traditional collaboration through the tenants of the Collective Impact that aligns multiple efforts and strategies around targeted youth and populations.