The Opportunity Challenge launched in March 2020 as a joint grantmaking initiative of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation. 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, announced in late July. Following additional programmatic review, the final twelve awardees were selected by the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation and announced in mid-September 2020.

Selection Committee Members

Wafaa Arbash


Dany Bahar

Brookings Institution

Miguel Bustos


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


Prachi Patankar

Foundation for a Just Society

Rachel Peric

Welcoming America

Manuel Portillo

Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians

Yuliya Tarasava


Craig Valdez

New American Leaders

Who was 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 were 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?

Applicant Benefits

In addition to being eligible for funding:

  • All applicants will be invited to participate in a webinar at the conclusion of the Opportunity Challenge where the team will share reflections on 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.
  • 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.

Stay in Touch

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.