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Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants & Refugees

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Check out this profile on Cory by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) to learn more about WRF's commitment to moving the needle for immigrant families in Arkansas.

Where do immigrant issues fit in your grantmaking?

Racial and social justice is embedded in our DNA, and that's reflected in our four strategic priorities: (1) Reduce poverty; (2) Increase educational attainment; (3) Strengthen communities; and (4) Build our state's nonprofit infrastructure. We fund immigration issues as part of our work to close the educational and economic gaps--and improve the lives of all Arkansans. We firmly believe that we need to invest in immigrants if the state is to benefit from their culture, productivity, and economic contributions.

What is your funding strategy?
We support research to inform good public policy, civic engagement, integration services, capacity building, and leadership development.

What do you hope your grants will achieve?
We want to do three things at once: (1) Lay the groundwork for Arkansas to become a leader in good policy supportive of economic and educational opportunities for immigrant families; (2) Build the nonprofit infrastructure that supports immigrant integration and equity; and (3) Support the continued development of community and organizational leadership for immigrants and other critical populations in our state.

How and why are you involved in GCIR?
I've been on the board of GCIR for nearly five years. Prior to my service on the board, I benefited greatly from GCIR's member services. As a state-wide grantmaker in a state that has the fourth fastest growing immigrant population, it's important for me to be connected to what's happening nationally. GCIR is my lifeline on this issue.

How, if at all, has possible immigration reform influenced your philanthropic thinking and strategizing?

Much of our energy this year centers on the release and dissemination of our report, A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013, which analyzes key demographic trends and the economic impact of immigrants and the Marshallese population in Arkansas. We released the report in January, just as the country was turning its attention to Comprehensive Immigrant Reform (CIR). The report is being used to shape our state's conversation on CIR and WRF is using our bully pulpit to educate Arkansas on the fact that immigrants have a positive impact on the state through their investment in communities and productivity in Arkansas's economy. On May 13th, we're partnering with GCIR on a webinar to share why our board felt it important to prepare A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013, how the study has already impacted both policy and community conversations in the state, and how dialogue with peers in philanthropy--namely the Napa Valley Community Foundation--has helped inform our thinking and rollout plan.

How about sharing a pearl of grantmaking wisdom?

The truest measure of our future potential is our current condition. Don't neglect it now.

Any parting thoughts?
As we gather ourselves to make a great leap forward on CIR, I would encourage us to renew our efforts to forge meaningful relationships across all communities of color. We're on the cusp of a demographic shift that will change the complexion of our country. However, changing the composition of our leadership and expanding opportunity across the shift will require a deliberate and concerted strategy. What role will philanthropy play?