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Refugee Voices Peer Network

We seek to develop and test a platform for former refugees to serve as mentors and social networks to recent arrivals in two US locations.

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Each year, the US government determines the number of refugees who can be permanently settled to the country and manages their admission process. After their arrival, non-profit organizations, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), help refugees to integrate by finding housing, learning English, applying for jobs, accessing transportation, and enrolling in school. Aside from this initial assistance, social networks are critical for long-term success (e.g., in career development, educational attainment, and achieving other personal goals). However, by the very nature of being newcomers, most newly arrived refugees lack these connections. This project would identify former refugees who are willing to serve as resources to newer arrivals, either on a one-time basis for specific topics (e.g., accessing jobs in a particular field or purchasing a home) or for a sustained period of time. This interaction could take place either in-person or virtually (phone or online). In two US cities where IRC works, our staff would recruit mentors from among our former clients and the broader former refugee community. Staff would also identify those refugees who are interested in and could benefit from mentorship support and pair them with mentors. This mentorship would be mutually beneficial as mentees gain culturally-competent peer support and mentors gain experience as community leaders through sharing their experience with others and creating social bonds. In the first year, each project site would aim to make 15 pairings, including a mix of one-time and ongoing pairings. This need and desire for establishing connections between refugees at different stages of their experience emerged from conversations with former refugee staff and community participants in IRC’s Refugee Voices initiative, which is outlined below. The benefit of connecting with someone whose lived experience reflects your own as you both navigate new territory is something to which all can relate.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Abilene, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah. These two communities already have established communities of former refugees, ongoing resettlement of refugees, and thriving receiving communities. IRC offices in both locations have mentorship program infrastructure, experience, and networks that could be adapted for the purposes of piloting this program. Piloting this program in two communities would provide learnings on program feasibility in different contexts.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Social bonds and bridges are critical for newcomers. Current evidence suggests that programs using community liaisons, usually members of the refugee community who have adapted to the receiving community, may be successful at building social bridges between the receiving community and new arrivals. Additional evidence indicates that linking existing entities or networks with new arrivals may be a successful approach to building social bridges and fostering mutual understanding and inclusion.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Refugees who settle in the US are afforded a chance to create a new life, free from fear and persecution. These newcomers work hard to start over in their adoptive country. The opportunity to be connected with someone who has been in their shoes and can coach them through challenging transitions can foster hope for what the future can bring in their new home. Additionally, refugees arrive with rich backgrounds and experiences in their home countries and countries of transit. It takes incredible strength and resilience to create a new life in a new country, and others can learn from their valuable experiences. Being viewed as a leader in one’s own right and recognized for the contributions one makes is a dignifying experience. Having the opportunity to serve in a meaningful leadership role in one’s community and country while “paying it forward” to others and making new connections can also foster joy and a sense of personal fulfillment.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Communities thrive when everyone has the ability to harness their full potential. This idea harnesses the strengths and experiences of former refugees to support other refugees as they establish new lives in their new homes. In turn, the mentees become better equipped to navigate the systems and networks needed to succeed in the US. Currently, these types of peer support opportunities tend to be ad hoc and vary by program. This project would provide a structure and a platform that can be tested for national expansion across programs. IRC will track the project’s impact by conducting short pre- and post-assessments for mentorship pairings. For shorter interventions (one-time conversations about a specific issue), IRC staff will do brief (1-2 questions) follow-up outreach to assess whether and how the connection helped address the issue. IRC will also assess the difference between in-person and virtual connections, and between this peer mentorship model and other mentorship programs.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

IRC launched Refugee Voices in 2018, a platform for former refugees to advocate, tell their story, volunteer, or take actions to support refugees and refugee programs in the US. The platform is open to all resettled refugees, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, asylees, parolees, and other displaced persons. As part of the launch, IRC conducted a survey of its US staff. Of the 46 respondents who self-identified as a former refugee, 91% indicated the reason they would join Refugee Voices is to “give back,” and nearly 75% indicated interest in sharing their story. Ten launch events around the country gathered further feedback from former refugees about the initiative. IRC continues to develop programming in response to this feedback, local and national engagements, and an Advisory Committee comprised of former refugees. Aside from training in effective storytelling and cultivating local leadership, a recurring theme is a desire to help other newcomers navigate their new communities.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

In Abilene, Texas, IRC has been resettling refugees since 2004; since then, over 150 clients have purchased a home, and 11 have started their own business. In FY18, the office resettled 116 individuals, and over 100 community volunteers and interns helped to welcome refugees in 2018. IRC has been working in Salt Lake City, Utah for over 25 years, resettling 257 in just the last year. Since 1994, IRC and community partners have welcomed over 11,500 refugees and served thousands more through innovative programs designed to empower new arrivals to prosper and create stable families as they integrate into the community. In 2018, the office helped over 500 refugees become US Citizens and helped hundreds more to build assets, purchase homes, and start small businesses—all made possible with the help of over 2,000 volunteers and interns a year. Both communities have strong engagement from the host community, a thriving network of refugee leaders, and supportive environments for integration.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

IRC Abilene has experience and an infrastructure for mentorship programs, including a family mentorship program that pairs refugees with US-born mentors and a newer youth mentorship program focused on out-of-school youth. Also, in 2018, the office launched a refugee leadership development program, LEAD, that equips former refugees with the knowledge and connections to further contribute to Abilene and serve others in the refugee community. IRC Salt Lake City also has a vibrant family mentorship program that would serve as a strong foundation for testing this innovation. Annually, the office matches 50 family mentors offering assistance and friendship to newly arrived refugees. The community has an active Ethnic Community Based Organization (ECBO) network that would be a strong asset for a peer mentorship model and a growing network of former refugees who are seeking opportunities to give back to other refugees through education, training, and mentorship.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

The primary project implementation team will include the leadership and staff of the two site locations, the support of IRC’s national community engagement focal point, and the input of the Refugee Voices Advisory Committee. The Committee is a group that convenes monthly to exchange ideas, give feedback on the Refugee Voices initiative, and help shape its direction. The teams will also be able to collaborate with IRC colleagues who have expertise in volunteer management and evaluation. Locally, IRC will work with its pre-established relationships with local refugee leaders such as faith leaders, business leaders, ECBO leaders, and other community members to implement the project. Additionally, IRC will explore whether to create our own platform and internal system for assessing mentorship interest and making connections or to find a third-party platform to adapt for this purpose.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. At work today in 40 countries and 24 U.S. cities, we restore safety, dignity, and hope to millions who are uprooted. In the US, the IRC is the first connection for many refugees fleeing conflict. Through case management, employment, youth, and cultural integration programming, the IRC’s local offices assist refugees to understand their new home, become self-sufficient, and connect with their new communities. All of the IRC’s U.S. offices work to build stronger host communities to integrate refugees into all aspects of society. Services offered at the IRC’s 24 local offices align with each office’s local strategic action plan with defined outcomes in mind. These plans take the needs of the local refugee population, as well as the needs of the community at large, into consideration to build stronger, more resilient communities.

Website URL:

www.rescue.org

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

New York City, NY

In preparation for expert feedback: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in these categories? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea. (600 characters)

1. In measuring the impact of these mentorship and peer network pairings for mentors/mentees, comparing the in-person vs. online experience, and comparing a peer mentorship model vs. a more traditional mentorship between refugees and the receiving community; how do we achieve our evaluation goals in a realistic and light touch way while still capturing the data? 2. How can we best find or create and manage a low-cost tech platform for virtual mentorship and peer network interactions? 3. How do we create mentorship pairings that span cultures while still considering language differences?

Did you use the resources offered during the Improve Phase (mentorship, expert feedback, community research)? (2000 characters)

We appreciated the opportunity to connect with our mentor and submit questions for experts. For community research, we created an online survey, collecting feedback from 18 individuals. It was encouraging to hear our mentor’s affirmation for the concept, especially as someone who recently migrated. He asked thoughtful, probing questions that helped us think through some areas of our proposal that needed to be more clearly articulated. Pavel reinforced that mentorship would help newcomers celebrate small victories along their journey to starting new lives. We asked our assigned experts how to measure mentorship impact and form pairings. We received great feedback from two experts who encouraged us to think through some more informal feedback mechanisms like a brief check-in. The experts also provided insight into the potential option for virtual mentorship and pairings. We were especially eager to get input from other individuals with lived experience and potential participants through our community research. We designed an online survey that was locally distributed in Abilene and Salt Lake City and also nationally to our Advisory Committee. Survey themes included 1) what would be helpful to hear from someone who’s already resettled; 2) mentorship topics; 3) ideal time after arrival for mentorship; 4) anticipated challenges; and 5) in-person vs. online engagement. We were pleased to get robust feedback from 18 respondents, and this input will be invaluable in guiding the implementation of our idea should it receive funding. The feedback confirmed that there would be mutually beneficial value in a program like this.

In what ways would potential BridgeBuilder funds allow you to pursue your idea that other funding opportunities have not? (1000 characters)

Other funding opportunities have only supported existing mentorship programs between receiving communities and refugee arrivals. BridgeBuilder funds would be the first to support our testing of this peer mentorship and network model which draws upon the strengths and expertise of former refugees themselves. Additionally, previous funding support sought for Refugee Voices has focused on the interest areas of telling one’s story, advocacy, and civic engagement; whereas this opportunity would allow us the chance to develop another meaningful way for former refugees to give back to refugees newer to the US—a way that is more comfortable and aligned with the interests of those individuals who may not be as interested in a public-facing role.

What aspects or proportion of the overall idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (1000 characters)

Potential BridgeBuilder funds would primarily support program staff at each project site in their development of program materials, recruitment and matching of mentors and mentees, mentor training, questionnaire evaluations, and other project support as needed—such as regular check-in calls with mentors and mentees. Program implementation costs include the design and printing of program materials, mentor background checks, incentives for participants, information sessions and events, and use of a tech platform for virtual sessions. These funds would also cover the necessary travel costs when learnings are shared between the two local offices and programs are monitored by national-level staff. Finally, these funds could also help facilitate limited support from national technical staff and further the development of the Refugee Voices Advisory Committee. The funds could support the Committee in its national leadership for the Refugee Voices program.

What are the key steps or activities for your idea for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (1000 characters)

Over 12-18 mo., we would first hire staff at each project site and adapt existing mentorship training materials. Seeking input from former refugees and collecting feedback from sites, we’d define mentor roles, ensuring materials are culturally appropriate through iterative refinement. We must also choose the tech platforms for virtual connection based on the accessibility to users. Then, focusing on existing channels, we’d advertise the idea via various channels including e-newsletters, social media, flyers, outreach and presentations, refugee-led faith-based/civic organizations, etc. Next, we’d recruit mentors and identify where they could support while recruiting mentees and identifying needs. After training mentors and forming pairs, we’d follow researched best practices to support with regular check-ins. Lastly, we’d evaluate the experience and recognize individuals for participation while also continuing to nationally develop the initiative.

What will community-level impact look like over the timeframe of your idea? How will you determine whether or not you have achieved that impact? And what outstanding questions do you still have? (1000 characters)

This mutually benefits mentors, mentees, and the welcoming community. For mentors, the value of sharing one’s own past obstacles with someone now in their shoes can’t be understated. As one community respondent put it, "I've been there, and I'm here now. You will make it." Another survey respondent explained, “For mentors, this is an opportunity to build welcoming communities and give back to people facing similar circumstances.” This individual also described the benefit of navigating “nuances and dynamics of American culture and communities and additional support with concrete things” beyond just the core services of learning English or finding a job. Better connected and involved community members is a win-win for everyone. If each member contributes and engages to their full potential, all benefit. We will measure with continued feedback surveys and conversations with mentors/mentees and community leaders.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (1000 characters)

Mentor coordinators at Salt Lake City and Abilene offices will recruit, train, and match mentors with the support and supervision of other local staff and leadership (volunteer coordinators, community engagement coordinators, and local Directors). Both sites, and the initiative overall, will receive technical assistance and monitoring from the national Community Engagement Associate Director, situated at IRC headquarters. The Refugee Voices Advisory Committee will continue to provide leadership, input, and guidance to the initiative. Additional support or technical staff will be consulted as needed.

Lastly, how did you apply new learnings to your idea? (1000 characters)

Experts reinforced the value of informal feedback/evaluation such as check-ins. Our focus shifted to in-person engagement, relationship-building, and everyday platforms for virtual interaction. Same-language pairings may seem logical, but experts encouraged creating opportunity for participants to convene as a cohort. Our mentor encouraged us to raise program awareness with existing infrastructure (IRC’s website and communications platforms). For virtual interactions, we should prioritize accessible platforms like WhatsApp. He also recommended considering characteristics of potential mentors beyond language/culture or interests e.g., the ability to coach or see oneself in another’s shoes. Some feedback themes from our community included the ideal time post-arrival before participating, expectations, and boundary setting.We also discovered in-person likely to be more effective than online mentorship, although virtual mentorship was still positive to some.

View more

Attachments (3)

Effective Practices for Mentoring.pdf

Researched best practices for training mentors, forming effective matches, supporting mentorship relationships, etc.

IRC SLC 25 Years.mp4

IRC celebrating 25 years of welcome in Salt Lake City

Evidence Summary - Social Bonds and Bridges.pdf

What works to help refugees build social bonds and bridges.

36 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of geoffrey mosigisi
Team

Hi, Jessica

Great to read your idea.
I can understand that the financial status of the refugees you are dealing with, it is not bad because as I know most refugees lack basic needs, as you have explained you only assist them to get houses, education and personal goals.Then I can see you intend to support their emotional status, to be normal and healthy.why do you decide to train or mentor the refugees, you recruit the mentors who are some how better than the refugees and you will discover that the refugees will certainly tell you what they want,will they listen to you if you don't meet their important needs first.so My question is this why do you put more cash into mentoring,when the refugees know their needs? Let me know please, I will smile if you reply. Thanks

Regards

Geoffrey

Photo of Simone Sim
Team

Hi Jessica! This is a great idea! Apart from the mentor-mentee relationship, have you thought of organizing group events for the new refugees to meet others who are from the same background to foster a sense of community?

Photo of Nancy Dinh
Team

Hi Simone Sim ! Thanks for reaching out--and to answer your question--definitely. Mixer events that foster a sense of community have been included in our planned activities.

Jessica Kirk-Bowman Kristen Aster 

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Dear Jessica Kirk-Bowman ,

Great to read your final submission for the challenge. It is exciting to see that the mentor and expert feedback were helpful in enabling you clarify your next steps.

It is exciting that you already have an ask of what the support from the challenge would help the organization achieve. Could you be able to give an estimate of the total budget that will be needed over the 3 years, and what amounts will go to each of the specific activities?

Best

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Dear Isaac Jumba ,

Thank you for reaching out to us for the estimate of the total budget that will be needed and the amounts allocated to specific activities. We are working on refining our process to return to you with those amounts - but I wanted to clarify if there is a format you would most like to receive that information? Is this a case where an Excel sheet is helpful or would be utilizing the comments section directly? I appreciate your insight on how best to share this information.

Additionally, is there a time when receiving this information would be most helpful? We want to ensure we are giving you ample time to review and return with any questions.

Best Regards,
Jessica

Nancy Dinh Kristen Aster 

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Dear Jessica Kirk-Bowman 

No, there is no specific format. Here at the comment sections would still be okay. It will be great to have them soonest, just to have an understanding of what activities your team is envisioning to take, and what the budget would be. Best

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Dear Isaac Jumba 

Thank you for your feedback. We're working to finalize our budget, but given the sensitivities around information - we were wondering if it might be possible to share via email? Otherwise, if there is a partner example of how the information is shared - we are happy to model our response in a similar fashion.

Best Regards,
Jessica  

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Dear Isaac Jumba 

We are proposing approximately $188,000 for Phase 1 of this program, which should last 12-18 months. Needs for beyond this initial period will be developed over the course of the program. Funding for staff time and benefits will support a dedicated mentor coordinator, supervision, and interpreter support in each site and national coordination and technical assistance support. Additional programmatic costs include travel for exchange and monitoring visits to each office; local transportation; shared administrative costs (office space, supplies, etc.); training and advertisement materials design costs and printing; mentor background checks; information session and mixer events; national leadership capacity building; and participant recognitions.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions and we look forward to remaining in touch.

Warm Regards,
Jessica

Kristen Aster Nancy Dinh 

Photo of Maryan  Abdinur
Team

Hello Jessica, congratulations on making it the Improve Phase! I am the expert matched with the RVPN innovation proposal. I apologize for the late arrival of my feedback, I ran into some technical difficulties on my end. I am honored to share some of my experiences to help you improve in this phase. My feedback is below with a few questions to help me to understand more.

Q.1) In measuring the impact of these mentorship and peer network pairings for mentors/mentees, comparing the in-person vs. online experience, and comparing a peer mentorship model vs. a more traditional mentorship between refugees and the receiving community; how do we achieve our evaluation goals in a realistic and light touch way while still capturing the data?

A) For evaluations, in addition to your post-and-pre assessment questions, I would recommend adding a few questions that are asked by mentors to the mentee at the start and end of each interaction point. As check-in and check-out questions. This will do a few things 1. It will help the mentee to center what their needs are and mentors to target their advice/help for that moment. This would allow for the relationship to be impactful for both parties. These regular questions will also help mentors with evaluating how the pairing is going while, allowing mentors to collect a more thorough data throughout the process to better evaluate at the end of the mentorship. Questions can be adjusted/targeted for each experience model: peer to peer, traditional or online experience.

Examples:
Check-in: (what do you need the most help with today? What are you finding most diffract? What do you feel is helping you to adjust today/this week/this month?

Check-out: how are you using the information you are learning? What would be most helpful to you next time? How do you want to be communicated with next?

Questions and thoughts:

What is the criteria and process for selecting mentors? - How are mentors identified beyond the Pool of “former refugees who are willing to serve as resources to new arrivals”? And what tools/trainings are offered to the identified mentors

I don't see enough information that allows me to see what an evaluation process could be like for the online experience -I would imagine for that platform it would be harder for new arrivals, who are in the process of adjusting to their new homes/communities/environments to utilize.

What would the online experience platform look like? How would you identify pairings that would use the online platform? Where is the need for the online experience?

Q.2) How can we best find or create and manage a low-cost tech platform for virtual mentorship and peer network interactions?

A) As for finding/creating/managing a low-cost tech platform I would recommend checking out the Progressive Technology Project PTP, they are a software development group rooted in social justice organizing/movement and they offer their pricing based on the number of contacts you need storied yearly. They also offer support/training/advice that best fits for your programming needs. You can check them out here: https://ourpowerbase.net. I think there is a great opportunity for collaborations. I am happy to make the connection if you are interested.

Q.3) How do we create mentorship pairings that span cultures while still considering language differences?

A) When considering culture and language barriers consider paring based on peer to peer model level. The peer to peer model might allow for berries to be broken down a lot easier, then the tradition mentor/mentee model. You can pilot with this and see how it goes, and make adjustments as needed.

Please let me know if you need anything else from me,

Best of luck!

Maryan A. Abdinur

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Dear Maryan Abdinur ,

On behalf of the IRC Bridge Builder Team - thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. We appreciate your feedback and questions and should there be any further questions for clarification - we will make sure to return to you.

Best Regards,
Jessica

Photo of Maryan  Abdinur
Team

Jessica Kirk-Bowman you are very welcome, keep up the good work!

Best wishes,

Maryan A.

Photo of Itika Gupta
Team

Hi Jessica Kirk-Bowman  this is a very evolved and inspiring project that already done such commendable work in the space of building bridges, not just between the refugees and local population, but within the refugee community too.
My name is Itika, and I'm here to share some Expert Feedback and suggestions on the points you're seeking support with.
- Regarding your question on measuring impact of the engagements - To start with, make sure both the mentor and mentee define what success looks like to both of them. Their vision for success can set a benchmark for the impact of their engagement.
Also, having both the mentor and mentee take a quick "How you feel" test to rate how they feel at the end of the engagement at an emotional, social and professional level can give you a consistent measure of their engagement (online as well as off-line). The engagement will be a holistic success if both the mentor and mentee have tangible growth by working with each other.
This article about designing mentorship programs has some really interesting insights and resources that might help you: https://medium.com/west-stringfellow/designing-and-implementing-a-mentorship-program-4ecc2804406e

- For a low tech platform for virtual mentorship - With the range of free social interaction and remote conferencing platforms available in the market, I wouldn't suggest developing a separate platform for IRC. It will cost you a lot more, and it will also increase the barrier to entry for your entire network because people will need to be familiar with the platform and registered on it to be able to access it. I feel focusing on designing the flow and ethos of the interactions will play a primary role in making this project a success. Once you've designed your flow, putting it on any existing platform will work.
There are some really interesting case studies of how Facebook has been used for peer-to-peer mentoring with the Facebook wall serving as a space of continuous reflection. Here is one such study : https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/12884/thesis_hum_2014_ngodwana_k.pdf?sequence=1

- Regarding creating diverse mentorship pairings - This is definitely a wonderful idea towards absolute inclusion and collaboration. But I wouldn't suggest you make mentor-mentee pairs of people speaking different languages during early interactions when a refugee has just moved. In the initial days, the refugees are desperate to fit in as quickly as possible, so at that stage it would be best to give them familiar spaces and people to learn from. But you can definitely organise "heart circle high-teas" etc where you invite all your communities to meet once every month/ quarter and engage and collaborate with each other.
Also, it may be interesting to do inter-cultural pairings between refugee children, or women of communities who are home makers. Both these groups won't have the haste of learning the new ways of their host country asap, and they will have a lot of interesting mediums to interact over like games, meals, crafts etc. Here is a really cool refugee festival from Switzerland you can have a look at for inspiration : http://www.refugeeculturalfestival.ch/en/home/

I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out to me incase you have any more questions.
What you're doing is extremely inspiring, good luck with the challenge.

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Dear Itika Gupta 

From the entire IRC Bridge Builder Team, thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback and consideration. As we continue through this process, we appreciate your offer to take on additional questions.

Best Regards,
Jessica

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

These are my last 3 sets of important questions for you and your team before the final review stage begins.

Can you please list 3 bullet points - just one line each - short and sweet of what feedback you got from your mentor on your idea?
1.
2.
3.
Can you please list 3 bullet points - just one line each - short and sweet of what feedback you got from your user on your idea?
1.
2.
3.
Can you please list 3 bullet points - just one line each - short and sweet of what feedback you got from your expert on your idea?
1.
2.
3.

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Hi Bremley Lyngdoh thank you for the final set of questions to answer. I do want to ask where we might expect to receive expert feedback? I know we were expecting to receive it by today and want to ensure that we're looking for our expert feedback in the correct area on the application.

Many Thanks!

Nancy Dinh Kristen Aster 

Photo of Nancy Dinh
Team

Thank you, Bremley Lyngdoh . Now that we have received our expert feedback, we are happy to respond to your questions in full. The team also looks forward to sharing the remaining final responses on Monday!

Feedback from our mentor Pav . :
1. We can increase program awareness by utilizing our existing infrastructure (e.g., our organization's website and external communications platforms).
2. For virtual mentorship and peer network interactions, we should explore tech platforms that are as universal and accessible as possible (e.g., WhatsApp).
3. Having a mentor will greatly help newcomers celebrate small victories along their journey to create new lives in a new country, which can be daunting.

Feedback from our users:
1. Users found in-person mentorship to be more effective than online mentorship, and in-person mentorship is especially beneficial for establishing initial trust.
2. This idea will be important and necessary for social integration, acquiring basic everyday knowledge, and learning more about American culture.
3. Unrealistic expectations might be common, and we need to manage these from the start. It is important to be mindful of the needs and capacity of both mentors and mentees.

Feedback from our experts Maryan Abdinur and Itika Gupta :
1. We should think through some of the more informal feedback mechanisms like a brief check-in with participants, and we should value participants' mutual definition of success.
2. Our focus should primarily be on in-person engagement, building the relationship, and--like our mentor recommended--using everyday, accessible tech platforms for virtual mentorship interactions.
3. Pairings based on shared language may seem the most logical initially, but we should also consider ways to create opportunities for all mentors and mentees to come together if there is a cohort.

Jessica Kirk-Bowman Kristen Aster 

Photo of Helene Rassias-Miles
Team

Mentoring is such an important part of our existence - this project ties in so much that helps create stronger communities and erases the word "stranger" from people's lives.
Yassas!

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

I am happy to see the progress that you have made so far and I hope you are able to use the feedback you have got from your mentor. You should be receiving the answers on the 3 questions that you have sent to the expert by the 7th of October which you can then incorporate into your idea before the final evaluation deadline on the 14th of October.

Please remember to answer all the 5 additional questions on the platform when you have got all the updated information with you from all your consultations with your mentor, expert and users. All the best!

Photo of Nancy Dinh
Team

Thank you, Bremley Lyngdoh . After our initial mentor call with Pavel, the team has been thinking of ways to tie his feedback into our upcoming submission--most notably his suggestion about using social media to garner awareness for our program beyond the local community. We are excited to continue this conversation with him in addition to hearing expert responses to our 3 questions. We are also actively working to collect user feedback and will be sharing those findings soon!

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Thank you so much for your kind response and once you have received the valuable feedback from your mentor, please kindly share with us what steps you have taken to test your idea in the field with your users and how they feel about it after your consultation with them. Please post your thoughts here on the comments section next week after you know exactly what the users think of your idea. All the very best!

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Can you please confirm if you have made contact with your mentor and if you have agreed on a date to have your one hour check in call to discuss about your idea?

Can you please confirm if you have thought of 3 questions for your idea to post on your comments section that you would need an expert to answer by 20th September?

Photo of Nancy Dinh
Team

Hi Bremley Lyngdoh , thank you for reaching out! Jessica Kirk-Bowman and I are happy to confirm that we will be meeting with our mentor tomorrow and plan to have our expert questions posted by the 20th.

Photo of Jessi Wolz
Team

Great idea! This is something RefuSHE is also exploring among our alumni that are resettled in the US.

Photo of Arsene Mongane Baci
Team

je pense qu'en impliquant aussi les observateurs communautaires ainsi que les points focaux au niveau des communautés, ces deux peuvent davantage aider à faire mieux et rencontre plus des gens pour bénéficier des services.

Photo of Arsene Mongane Baci
Team

IRC a souvent travaillé en RDC mon pays et a toujours fait un travail de qualité dans les communautés surtout à l'Est de la RDC à Goma. Très intéressante l'idée de mentorat et qui prend en compte les personnes directement concernées dans la réalisation des objectifs. ceci rencontre l'idée selon laquelle, le meilleur pont qui puisse exister entre les hommes ce sont les hommes eux mêmes. ces équipes de mentorat peuvent être considérées comme des veilles communautaires pour la capitalisation de l'idée et la pérennité du projet. ces mêmes rejugées peuvent se regrouper en attendant leur intégration définitive dans ce qu'on peut appeler Class action. une sorte d'association au sein des quelles ils partagent les difficultés et expériences pour avancer dans la vie. ceux qui ont réussi donnent les moyens par lesquels ils sont passés et les autres s'appuient sur ça.

Photo of Alejandra Aguilera
Team

Hello, I know IRC work from before and it's innovation group.It is very nice to see you in this challenge, Good luck

Photo of Joséphine Goube
Team

Hi! Sharing projects that are similar (sort of!) and working well in Europe so you can learn on ways people have done it in other countries:
- https://www.duoforajob.be/
They connect refugees with old people so to help refugees with their CV and finding a job. Old people have a lot of time to give, experience also... and they are the ones that are the most changed by the experience, often changing their perception of migrants!
- https://singa.io/fr
They connect refugees and local to meet and become friends. They call it a buddy programme.

I hope that helps!

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Thank you very much for reaching out with those suggestions. Are you familiar with the platforms that either program uses to organize and mobilize volunteers? Would be great to hear any insight you'd be aware of!

Photo of Joséphine Goube
Team

Hi Jessica Kirk-Bowman yes i do! I like very much this one : https://community.makesense.org/ and SPEAK from Hugo does also a great job at mobilising people in their cities to become "leaders" to welcome newcomers in a city

Photo of Marina  Peña
Team

Hello Jessica Kirk-Bowman , first of all, congratulation for your idea, I'm sure it will have a great impact on the refugees, what are your insights in the pilot phase? Any conclusions you can share with us?

Photo of Harris Levine
Team

Hi Jessica, this is awesome. It sounds silly to say this but mentorship is the answer to everything. People need safe, trusted ways to ask for help. Resettling in the US requires figuring out so many things about how things work. People we met talked about "figuring out how to call a phone number with letters in it, like 1800WALMART" or "how do you rent an apartment without a rental history."

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Thank you very much for your feedback - and you can see in our attached evidence summary more of the IRC's insight into what works to build social bonds and bridges!

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi Jessica great to have your idea on the platform for the challenge. It's exciting and I really like your idea. As the ideas phase comes to an end today the 17th of August, we would encourage you to again have a look at the evaluation criteria here https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5a147545b687370001bfd10c/5d1a434848ffdc223d8d9bfd_2019%20BridgeBuilder%20Challenge_%20Evaluation%20Criteria%20(2).pdf

Also, it will be exciting for your to check out other ideas on the platform, provide some feedback and explore potential areas of collaboration with them. Check out the Migration Lab Program https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/enabling-payments-for-ecosystem-services-via-goodwallet-for-idps-to-restore-land-in-kenya

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Thank you very much for sharing the Migration Lab Program - I will share this with the rest of the team!

Photo of Mabel Pr
Team

Hi Jessica! Brilliant project. I see potential for collaboration here. We could put in touch the refugees arriving at your locations with qualified language teachers, train your mentors to develop digital skills and connect with the same refugees to practice the language, get some guidance prior arrival and much-needed sense of purpose and hope.

Photo of Jessica Kirk-Bowman
Team

Here is a link to our video submission that accompanies the application. https://www.facebook.com/IRCSaltLakeCity/videos/279932429619194/