The Opportunity Challenge: $1 Million to Uplift Immigrant Communities is a joint grantmaking initiative of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation. As two funders committed to unlocking potential for all immigrants and refugees, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation seek solutions to support the success of immigrants and refugees in low-wage jobs and their communities across the U.S.  

Economic mobility is not solely a function of a person’s education, skills, or networks. Immigrants and refugees encounter significant roadblocks outside the workplace: lack of access to childcare, transportation, and healthcare, among others.

The Opportunity Challenge aims to surface impactful, community-led solutions to the obstacles that make it difficult for immigrants and refugees to achieve their goals. We also seek to elevate the efforts of adjacent organizations working in social services, health care, racial justice, and more, which are filling gaps in much-needed support for immigrants and refugees. Successful proposals will be considered on two categories: New Ideas, which pilot innovative approaches; and Established Programs, which build on ideas that have already proved successful.

We're thrilled to announce the 20 semi-finalists of the Opportunity Challenge!

Key Dates

The challenge opened on March 23, 2020, and grant applications were accepted through May 26, 2020. The selection committee of experts and community leaders, listed below, identified 20 semi-finalists. Following additional programmatic review, the final grant recipients will be selected by the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation and announced in mid-September 2020. Seven organizations will be awarded up to $200,000 for a two-year grant term.  

The challenge will open on March 23, 2020, and grant applications will be accepted through May 26, 2020. The selection committee of experts and community leaders, listed below, will identify a short list of semi-finalist applicants. Following additional programmatic review, the final grant recipients will be selected by the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation and announced in mid-September 2020. Seven organizations will be awarded up to $200,000 for a two-year grant term.  

Selection Committee Members

We’ve assembled a selection committee of experts and community leaders to review and identify semi-finalists.

Wafaa Arbash

WorkAround

Dany Bahar

Brookings Institution

Miguel Bustos

GLIDEsf

Suzette Brooks Masters

American Immigration Council

Antony Bugg-Levine

Nonprofit Finance Fund

Tiffany Ferguson

The Workers Lab

Liza Gross

Practice Change at Solutions Journalism Network

Virginia Mosqueda

James Irvine Foundation

Chris Pangilinan

Uber

Prachi Patankar

Foundation for a Just Society

Rachel Peric

Welcoming America

Manuel Portillo

Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians

Yuliya Tarasava

CNote

Craig Valdez

New American Leaders

Who is eligible to apply?

Organizations that are:

  • Mission-driven, for-profit, non-profit 501(c)3, 4, or 6, or fiscally-sponsored individuals
  • Of any organizational size, budget, and growth stage
  • Providing products, services, or supports that directly or indirectly address the needs of immigrant and refugee communities
  • Serving communities anywhere in the U.S., including U.S. territories
  • Not recipients of funding from either the WES Mariam Assefa Fund or the Tarsadia Foundation in 2019-2020

New Ideas applications pilot innovative approaches.

  • Any idea that hasn’t been implemented yet or has only been implemented for less than two years. Efforts that have been underway for more than two years may be eligible for the “Established Programs” track
  • Even if an idea has been adopted or implemented elsewhere, it would be considered new if this is the first time it has been implemented in a particular community

Established Programs applications build on solutions that have already proved successful.

  • Any project or program that has been in operation for more than two years and has yielded some tangible results
  • A project or program that has been successfully piloted and is now ready for launch or scale
  • An existing program or organization that is seeking to deepen its impact through program evaluation

How are awardees selected?

The Opportunity Challenge selection committee reviewed applications using the following evaluation criteria:

  • Impact: Does your project create deep, long-lasting impact focused on the economic advancement of immigrant and refugee communities?
  • Vision: Does your project put forth a compelling vision for the advancement of immigrants and refugees that is informed by and responsive to community needs?
  • Implementation: Do the project’s leaders understand the key considerations and resources required to successfully execute the envisioned project?
  • Replicability: Does your project develop interventions that can be shared with or implemented in other communities?
  • Partnership Orientation: Does your team authentically and intelligently collaborate with partners, when appropriate, to increase the project’s capacity?
  • Innovation: Does your project test new solutions to persistent problems, drawing upon lessons learned in other social justice movements or in adjacent sectors?

Why should I apply?

In addition to being eligible for funding:

  • All applicants will be invited to participate in a webinar at the conclusion of the Opportunity Challenge. Participants will discuss best practices and lessons learned in developing proposals for open grant challenges.
  • The WES Mariam Assefa Fund and Tarsadia Foundation will make available summaries of all applicants’ proposals to other funders and partners in their respective networks in the interest of fostering new connections that could help any applicant advance their work.
  • Semi-finalists will be invited to webinars where they will have the opportunity to present their projects to WES Mariam Assefa Fund and Tarsadia Foundation partners, as well as other funders.
  • As grantee partners, Opportunity Challenge awardees will become part of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation communities. Both funders are committed to elevating the work of their grantees, facilitating connections, and sharing lessons learned and outputs with the wider field.

For more information:

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Thank you for your interest in the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. We’ll share updates on the Fund’s efforts, what we’re learning, and opportunities through our email list.