Creating a Philanthropic Legacy: WES Fund Ambassadors Unveil Program’s Latest Donations
Since 2020, the Fund Ambassadors Program has played a pivotal role in educating WES staff about philanthropy while supporting mission-aligned immigrant and refugee grassroots organizations in the United States and Canada. As we celebrate the program’s fourth year, the Ambassadors are proud to announce that nine organizations have been selected to receive a total of US$90,000 in donations. These donations will support the creation of inclusive economies for immigrants, refugees, and communities of color.
A Community of Philanthropic Learning
Nine WES staff were selected to engage learning modules on philanthropy led by WES Mariam Assefa Fund team members and distinguished leaders in philanthropy. Energizing sessions on topics ranged from trust-based philanthropy to impact investing. Fund Ambassadors applied what they learned and leveraged their interview and research skills to vet prospective grantees. This approach facilitated meaningful discussions on representation and the essence of shifting decision-making power to communities. Notably, the cohort made up of staff from across WES departments included many who identified as people of color, including as Indigenous or Black; as immigrants or refugees; and/or as women.
Elevating Changemakers and Championing Inclusion
At the pinnacle of the program, each Fund Ambassador selected an organization in the U.S. or Canada to receive a US$10,000 donation that will go toward efforts supporting immigrants, refugees, and communities of color. The selected organizations provide a range of supports and resources to communities, from ensuring quality services for Canadian refugee youth to improving working conditions for Asian immigrant employees in California.
A total of US$50,000 in donations were made to the following five Canadian organizations:
- 105 Gibson Centre – Youth Services selected by Wilma Lee, Evaluation Production, Credential Analysis
- Centre for Refugee Children selected by Monamee Ishika, WES Global Talent Bridge Canada, Manager, WES Gateway Program
- Community Matters Toronto selected by Hope Didi, Global Education and Knowledge, Area Researcher
- North York Women’s Centre selected by Ruochen Peng, Global Operations, Credential Analyst
- South Asian Women and Immigrants’ Services selected by Mohammad Baig, Academic Records, Evaluation Documentation Specialist
A total of US$40,000 in donations were made to the following four U.S. organizations:
- Alliance of Idaho selected by Stefanie Vasquez, WES Global Talent Bridge U.S., Resource Development and Content Manager
- Asian Immigrant Women Advocates selected by Ngoc Nguyen, WES Global Talent Bridge U.S., Advocacy Coordinator
- Fresh Start Refugee Assistant Center selected by Anna Baloutch, Office of Social Impact, Social Impact Special Assistant
- Hispanic Services Council selected by Natalie Torres, WES Global Talent Bridge U.S., Policy Analyst
Photo courtesy Alliance of Idaho
“The Fund Ambassador program was a rare and impactful experience. Not only did I get the chance to learn about the intricacies of philanthropy and social impact investing, but I was also given the unparalleled opportunity to support low-income immigrant women and youth in the Bay Area. The experience that I gained from the program was one that left an unforgettable mark on my life, and I hope to draw from the lessons that I learned to continue to give back and advocate for the inclusion of marginalized communities in the U.S.”
Ngoc Nguyen, 2023 Fund Ambassador, WES Global Talent Bridge U.S., Advocacy Coordinator
Building a Culture of Philanthropy
The evolution of the Fund Ambassadors program is a testament to its increasingly collaborative quality. Over the years, alumni have returned to contribute their insights and skills learned, fostering a sense of camaraderie around the program’s community. In the most recent iteration, nine Fund Ambassador alumni played pivotal roles as mentors, review committee members, and session facilitators, enriching the overall experience.
“As a Fund Ambassador alum, my journey was a profound exploration of support and growth. Nurturing a sense of community and facilitating connections, I discovered the power of collective effort in fostering meaningful experiences. The program not only honed my skills but also illuminated the transformative impact support can have on individuals in the program.”
Hermon Melles, Fund Ambassador alum, Accounts Record Officer
As we approach a significant milestone, the fifth anniversary of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Fund Ambassadors program, we look to reflect on five years of continuous learning and growth. The expanding alumni network and community of partners, now a cornerstone of our success, underscore our commitment to advancing opportunity, wealth, power, and justice for and with immigrant and refugee communities. The upcoming year promises to be a celebration of our collective achievements and a renewed dedication to our philanthropic efforts.