WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantees

Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation

Photo: Monica Melton on Unsplash

Category: Innovative Finance

Amount: USD$248,449

Term: Oct. 2019—Jun. 2020

Focus: Identify innovative financing models that expand job readiness and workforce development programs for immigrants and refugees

About the Beeck Center

The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University employs an applied research model to identify and scale effective finance models that address pressing social challenges. To conduct its research and develop real-world solutions, the Center engages with communities, investors, practitioners, policy makers, academicians, and students to address capital gaps that exclude certain communities, including those of refugees and immigrants, from economic advancement. The Beeck Center describes itself as “an incubator for scalable, leading-edge ecosystem ideas.”

What type of work will the grant enable?

With support from the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, the Beeck Center will identify promising approaches to attract additional funding and launch social finance models that support the adult education and workforce development of immigrants and refugees. Through its deep expertise in social finance and workforce development, the Beeck Center will research the financial needs of organizations and programs supporting immigrant and refugee workers; assess the effectiveness of existing social finance tools; and, in collaboration with others in the field, design social finance models that have the greatest potential for scale and impact. The Center will develop these new models with a two-pronged goal of bringing other funders and impact investors to this space, and of ultimately having a positive impact on organizations working in communities across the country to support immigrant and refugee workers.

Why is this work important to the fund?

To accelerate employment and economic mobility for immigrant and refugee workers, additional investment is required from philanthropic, private, and public funders, and new financing models are essential to better meet the needs of organizations on the ground. At present, based on data from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, only 1 percent of philanthropic funding from the 1,000 largest foundations goes to immigration-related organizations, and only 14 percent of that goes to organizations providing support services. Government funding in the space is also deeply sub-scale to the need. For example, according to the Migration Policy Institute, English classes offered through government-funded programs meet only 4 percent of the need nationally. The Beeck Center’s research will help identify opportunities for social impact finance tools that can scale to increase and enhance relevant adult and workforce education for immigrants and refugees. It will also bring new funders and investors into the immigrant and refugee integration ecosystem.