The Refugee Education Center
Founded in 2006 by refugees and immigrants, The Refugee Education Center (REC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The mission of REC is to support refugee children and families to gain the necessary skills for seamless and successful integration into the community through comprehensive educational support, youth development services, and fostering cultural knowledge and understanding. As the only organization of its kind in West Michigan, REC has a strong history of success in engaging schools and families in meeting the unique needs of refugee students. Through partnerships with local refugee resettlement agencies and schools, REC is able to walk alongside refugee newcomers as they enter the U.S. school system—continuing services past the resettlement period, for however long it takes to ensure refugee students succeed in school so that they can succeed in their new community.
Since 2006, REC has served 80-100 students a year from countries such as Burma, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Sudan, with 80% of participants achieving key academic markers, such as reading scores. Our primary services include:
Student Support: Including after-school homework help (Monday through Thursday from 4–6 PM throughout the school year); a 7-week summer reading program with weekly educational field trips; a leadership program focused on promoting volunteerism and college readiness; and peer support groups that provide social and emotional support to newly arriving refugee students.
Parent Engagement: This includes school liaison service, school orientation and enrollment, assistance with parent-teacher conferences, and parent workshops.
School Engagement: We facilitate community collaboration across school districts serving refugees through our Converging Paths Collaborative and annual conference. The Converging Paths Conference provides information and resources to those working with refugee students and families in our community’s schools and promotes promising practices for reducing the rate at which refugee students leave school without a degree. Our staff is also made available for professional development trainings and consultation with schools upon request.