The East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC) Executive Director Frank Ramirez announced last week that the Eastie non-profit that serves the community’s immigrant population received a grant to launch a new refugee support service program.
The EBECC Refugee Youth Mentoring (RYM) program will be funded by a $40,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) to ensure a positive path towards social and economic integration.
Ramirez said the primary goals of the RYM is to promote positive civic and social engagement, as well as to support individual educational and vocational advancement.
Since its founding in 1978, EBECC has served residents of different racial, ethnic and national backgrounds, reflecting demographic changes in East Boston. Given the neighborhoods large and rapidly growing Latino immigrant population and the numerous challenges this population faces, EBECC has been focusing on immigrants of all ages since 2005.
“We are thrilled to start this new program,” said Ramirez. “Some refugee youths in Boston, lacking adequate social support to integrate into their new communities and to advance their educational and vocational goals, may become uncertain about their future, and may engage in anti-social behavior and activity or become at-risk for depression or social isolation.”
Ramirez added that connecting refugee youth to caring and supportive members of the community.
“Mentors in the community can provide invaluable support as they adjust to their communities and learn to identify, and strive to achieve their educational or vocational goals, ultimately facilitating social and economic integration,” he said.
Ramirez said bringing together mentors, government resources and collaboration platforms, the possibilities to create a more engaging community for youths are endless.
“Many refugee youths and young adults came to the United States running from violence, conflicting pressures and often suffering or witnessing horrific situation, been victims of violence, and experiencing the loss of, or separation from, family members, homes and communities,” he said. “Refugee youths may arrive to the United States with limited English proficiency and often without social connections or family ties. However, they are incredible potential resources for the community. Refugee youths arrive with unique individual strengths, aspirations, and dreams for their futures; the nature of their refugee experience can hinder integration into the local community, and here is the relevance of the RYM program.”
The RYM program will match eligible youth with mentors who will support successful integration and help the youth to thrive. Activities under the program will focus on the following areas:
• Development of social and life skills.
• Helping youths to learn American culture while maintaining and celebrating the youths’ cultural heritage.
• Providing opportunities for social engagement with peers.
• Providing information about opportunities to participate in civic and community services activities.
• Supporting youths in learning English, math, and other skills.
• Providing academic support, such as helping with homework, and assisting with transitions in school such as the transition between middle school and high school or high school to post-secondary education.
• Helping youths with career development including skill building, resume drafting, workers rights, and training opportunities.
• Supporting youths in developing health and financial literacy.