How Businesses Can Welcome Refugees – Insights from Welcome.US

By Elkin Hoyos
June 27, 2024

As we mark the end of World Refugee Awareness Month, it’s crucial to highlight the vital work being done by organizations dedicated to supporting refugees. One such organization making a significant impact is Welcome.US, which collaborates with a broad coalition of partners to provide essential resources and support to refugees arriving in the United States.

Who is Welcome.US?

Welcome.US is a member organization of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, dedicated to inspiring and mobilizing Americans to welcome and support refugees. Launched to resettle Afghan allies after the fall of Kabul in 2021, and later Ukrainian newcomers, Welcome.US unites individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and civic groups to create welcoming communities.

With the support of four former Presidents and four former First Ladies, Welcome.US empowers Americans to build a bridge to safety and help refugees thrive. Through community sponsorship, resource mobilization, and advocacy, they address immediate needs and promote long-term integration, ensuring refugees can rebuild their lives and contribute to their new communities.

Key Initiatives and Impact

Community Sponsorship: Welcome.US encourages community groups to sponsor refugee families, providing a personal touch that government programs alone cannot achieve. This sponsorship involves helping with housing, employment, language skills, and integration into the community. Through these efforts, over 200,000 newcomers have been welcomed with the support of sponsors in over 10,000 zip codes across all 50 states.

Resource Mobilization: By partnering with a wide array of organizations, Welcome.US ensures that refugees have access to critical resources such as healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. This holistic approach is designed to foster self-sufficiency and long-term success for refugee families. To date, Welcome.US has mobilized over $200 million in private sector contributions of goods, services, and funds to support resettlement efforts in the U.S. The Miles4Migrants initiative has donated over 850 million airline miles, providing 20,000 free flights to bring refugees to safety. Additionally, the Employment Exchange has offered 68,000 jobs.

Advocacy and Awareness: Welcome.US plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about the challenges faced by refugees and advocating for policies that support their integration. The organization works tirelessly to shift public perception and encourage a welcoming attitude toward refugees.

To gain further insights into how businesses and the private sector can support this mission, we spoke with Rebecca Fontes, VP of Corporate Relations at Welcome.US.

Q&A with Rebecca Fontes of Welcome.US

Q: How can businesses and the private sector best support the mission of Welcome.US in welcoming and helping newcomers thrive?

Rebecca Fontes: There are a myriad of ways, big and small, that businesses and their employees can welcome and support newcomers. From financial contributions and in-kind gifts to support the work of Welcome.US to employee volunteerism, including becoming a sponsor. There is so much that can be done to inspire, mobilize, and empower Americans from all corners of the country to welcome and support those seeking refuge here. To learn more, please visit our website.

Q: What steps can businesses take to create more inclusive workplaces that are welcoming to newcomers and refugees, ensuring not only hiring but also retaining and supporting them in the workforce?

Rebecca Fontes: Businesses can improve both the employer experience and the job seeker experience by encouraging employers to implement “refugee-friendly” strategies:

  • Remove barriers to entry, including identifying elements of the hiring process that can exclude refugees, most of whom are language learners.
  • Diversify recruitment efforts to encourage interested and motivated employers to expand their presence in the community by attending job fairs and sponsoring events as proven ways to connect with newcomer job seekers in their own communities.
  • Create mentoring opportunities by connecting new hires with employee mentors who can show them the ropes and answer their questions about company culture and how to meet expectations in the critical first six months.
  • Address gaps in support services. Employers are considering how to retain newcomer hires and need guidance on how to address transportation, childcare, and English language skills. Creating partnerships and advising employers on how to leverage regional and state-level incentives for upskilling workers can be beneficial.

Q: What are some innovative ways that businesses have collaborated with Welcome.US to enhance their impact? In what ways can Council for Inclusive Capitalism members and their organizations actively engage with Welcome.US to support refugees?

Rebecca Fontes: Welcome.US operates on the evidence that direct participation with newcomers transforms both the Welcomer and those being welcomed. We therefore focus on opportunities for Americans from all walks of life and American institutions representing a broad swath of Americans to participate as welcomers. We do this by developing policy and program innovations that empower Americans to participate as welcomers, easing their pathways to participation and bolstering their capacity, showcasing their stories of impact and transformation, and building community among them in order to nurture an ever-growing community of welcomers with an enduring commitment to welcoming.

Our team is always hard at work developing new and unique opportunities for participation, but some of the ways Council for Inclusive Capitalism members and their organizations can actively engage with Welcome.US include:

  • In-person and virtual message writing welcoming newcomers to the United States
  • Lunch & Learn webinars to educate members about global displacement and the work of Welcome.US
  • Local engagement with trusted community partners across the country (donation drives, kit building, community events, mentorship, legal support, etc.)
  • Skills-based volunteering opportunities so members can use their professional experience and expertise to provide pro bono support to Welcome.US
  • Sponsoring newcomers individually or in groups
  • Documentary film screenings and watch parties of the Tribeca X award-winning film, One Good Reason.

Please reach out to to learn more.

The Council for Inclusive Capitalism’s Role

At the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, we believe in the power of inclusive and sustainable economic systems that work for everyone. Our members are global CEOs, business and non-profit leaders who are committed to taking concrete actions and developing resources that create long-term value for all stakeholders, including refugees.

We recognize that inclusive capitalism involves ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. By supporting organizations like Welcome.US, our members demonstrate their commitment to building economies that are not only prosperous but also equitable and inclusive.

Supporting refugees is not just about humanitarian aid; it’s about recognizing the potential that refugees bring to our communities and economies. Refugees contribute to the workforce, start businesses, and enrich our cultural fabric. By supporting their integration, we strengthen our society as a whole.

Let’s reaffirm our commitment to creating a world where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. By working together, we can build more inclusive and resilient communities that benefit us all.

For more information on how you can support refugees and join the movement, visit Welcome.US.


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