The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society is committed to strengthening civil society through education, research, and leadership training.
An integral part of The Graduate Center, the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (CPCS) focuses on giving, volunteerism, and nonprofit entrepreneurship by individual donors, foundations, and corporations in the United States and around the world.
The Refugee Challenge – Why Community Foundations are in a Unique Position to Support Refugees and their Communities
by Bernadette Hellmann
Fellow for Special Projects, Greater Washington (DC) Community Foundation
Alumna, Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program
Abstract: Wars, conflict and persecution are forcing more people than ever to seek refuge outside their home countries. This paper argues that community foundations are in a unique position to enable refugees to take part in their new community. Drawing on empirical research and case studies from Germany, it shows ten typical activities they employ, including supporting volunteer initiatives or establishing field-of-interest funds to make small grants. The paper explores how community foundations use their roles as community leader, grantmaker and vehicle of philanthropy to empower others and leverage resources from donors, volunteers, non-profit organizations, corporations and authorities. Community foundations can contribute decisively to building inclusive societies and transforming strangers into neighbors - by creating meeting and learning opportunities for newcomers and locals, facilitating personal relationships, integrating refugees in social and cultural life, but also identifying their assets and seeing what talents the newcomers can bring to the community.