2014 Philanthropy Awards: RefugeeOne

Most recently updated: December 2020

Imagine fleeing your home because of war, terror or persecution, only to find yourself in a foreign land with few resources. For the many refugees who come to the Chicago area each year, RefugeeOne provides crucial assistance during that difficult transition. The Chicago-based resettlement organization helps refugees find housing, acclimate to American culture, develop computer skills, find jobs and obtain mental and medical healthcare. The ultimate goal is that the refugees will become independent members of the community.

Since it was founded in 1982, RefugeeOne has welcomed 18,000+ refugees from all over the world, including people escaping Cambodia’s killing fields and genocide in Rwanda and other African countries, refugees from the former Yugoslavia, Jews fleeing Communist oppression, Iranians fleeing the Islamic Revolution and families displaced from their homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  

Currently, the majority of the people RefugeeOne is helping to settle in the U.S. are from the Middle East (Syria, Iraq), Africa (D.R. Congo, Central African Republic, Horn of Africa), and Asia (Burma).  RefugeeOne’s programs are run by a staff of 40 people, many of whom are refugees themselves, and about 800 volunteers. Each year, the group aids approximately 2,500 refugees who are hoping to build new lives in the U.S.

In 2013, RefugeeOne raised more than $160,000 at its 8th Annual Gala, representing a 41 percent increase over the previous year.

By The Numbers (Updated 2020):

  • 18,000+ refugees welcomed and assisted since 1983
  • 95% of refugees at RefugeeOne become self sufficient within one year of arrival
  • Helps people from 75+ countries
  • Supports 500 refugee youth
  • Partners with 800+ volunteers

This article is part of our 2014 Philanthropy Awards. Find more of our winners here:

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