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Denver Immigrant Integration Mini-Grants

 

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In 2013, the Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs (DOIRA) started the Immigrant Integration Mini-Grants with the simple intention of bringing diverse communities together. That year we put out the call to the community to come forward with their most creative ideas for community bridging, learning, sharing and understanding. Denver organizations, neighborhood groups and passionate individuals responded to the call in overwhelming ways and produced some of the most impactful events and activities we had ever seen bringing together newcomers and receiving community. Since 2013, we have grown in size and scope but remain dedicated to funding projects that are community crafted and implemented.

Funding is made available for small, community-driven projects designed to:

  • bridge immigrant and receiving communities
  • create stronger and more connected neighborhoods
  • address community needs
  • foster community

The maximum grant amount is $1,000 and is matched with in-kind support, volunteer hours or other grants for the specified project.


DOIRA Sponsorship Recipients Map


2020 Immigrant Integration Sponsorship Recipients

The Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality is hosting a day-long symposium. The programming will provide: (1) a current context for LGBTQ asylum seekers at the GEO Detention Center in Aurora; (2) personal experiences of LGBTQ asylum seekers; (3) a model from PFLAG Las Cruces, NM, for becoming a sponsor (Ryan Steinmetz, president of that PFLAG chapter, and a current asylum seeker will be our two out-of-town guest speakers); (4) information about the many organizations providing services to those in detention and those who are released; and (5) a Call To Action. The decision was made to focus our program to highlight an important “unmet critical need” within the circle of organizations providing services to asylum seekers and immigrants — which is to motivate attendees to become SPONSORS (also the biggest need nationally, according to Immigration Equality) and/or participate in one of the surrounding safety-net areas of need: transportation, medical, legal, food, moral support/friends, job-seeking, etc.  Early partner organizations include NYC-based Immigration Equality (which has given permission to use their tagline as the name of our program), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Sisters of Color United for Educations, One Colorado, The (GLBT) Center on Colfax, Arvadans for Progressive Action, and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos; we expand this list after each meeting (we’ve had just two group planning sessions so far). We will provide simultaneous Spanish/English translation and child care on the premises. There will be vendor resource tables, including voter registration.

The Asian Pacific Development Center would like to host an exhibit to highlight the immigrant, refugee and 1st generation experience in America. The event will be hosted in the penthouse suite of Sakura Square and will display letters written by immigrants, refugees, and 1st generation Americans entitled “Dear America…”.  Letter writers are encouraged to share a physical memento that represents their letter, which will also be showcased at the event. Aside from the wonderful letter displays, some participates will read their letters live, and ahead of the event some will be asked to read their letters on screen and videos will be presented. Food will be provided to attendees free of charge the event will be free of charge as well to all community members. 

This event will celebrate Mexican Independence Day and will be an opportunity for the community to celebrate a predominant culture in our neighborhood.  This event was requested by our local community and organized in partnership with local businesses, schools, and churches.  We will host 3 food trucks (150 free meals for the first 150 people in attendance), low riders, Mexican Folk Dancers, Aztez Dancers, a DJ, a local musician, face painting, door prizes, and have booths for schools and community service agencies. 

The Denver Streets Partnership (DSP), the Trust for Public Land, the Athmar Park Neighborhood Association, the Denver Community Active Living Coalition, Denver Police District 4, the oces of Denver Council Districts 3 and 7, the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative, and local businesses, property owners, and residents, are working together to host the 2020 Little Saigon Night Market at South Federal Blvd and West Tennessee Ave in the Westwood neighborhood. The event will transform the block of Tennessee Ave between S Grove St and S Federal Blvd, as well as the parking lot of the adjacent shopping center, into a public plaza that will be the location for this Asian-style night market event. The goals of this event are to highlight the immigrant-owned businesses, celebrate the multicultural heritage of the area's mostly Latinx and Asian residents, and engage the community around planned improvements to the greenway along Tennessee Ave in the Westwood and Athmar Park neighborhoods. The DSP (formerly known as WalkDenver) hosted two similar events in 2019 as part of the Friends of Little Saigon Initiative (http://www.walkdenver.org/littlesaigon/). The event will include food from local immigrant-owned and -operated businesses, family activities, a public art installation, and cultural performances. 

State Capitol Tours are designed to minimize apprehension towards civic participation and to help debunk myths about barriers to immigrants seeking to enter the building or participate in its activities. Many community members we interact with assume that they must show documentation in order to gain entrance into the capitol. Others believe that participation is limited to individuals with legal status. The tours will provide an opportunity for small groups to visit the capitol and its chambers. We will discuss advocacy opportunities every person has to voice opinions and share perspectives on policies being enacted during the legislative session, regardless of migratory status. Visits during the off-cycle, while the general assembly is not in session, help with navigating the space when it’s less hectic.

We trust that when we come together, build relationships across diversity, grow a sense of belonging, and provide for and with one another, we are more likely to stick together and avoid displacement and negative effects of gentrification. The idea for a community center as a physical space arose out of the need for our community to have a safe place to meet and envision and plan a more just and equitable world.

Denver Housing Authority’s (DHA) Academies to Work (ATW) program has provided education and employment wrap-around services to low-income Denver residents since 201. We would host an International Job and Resource Fair focusing on the immigrant and refugee population of Denver. The event will be marketed to current ATW clients and at eight public housing sites throughout Denver, all of which have substantial immigrant and refugee populations. DHA will match project funds through the use of volunteer time. The International Job and Resource Fair will consist of three components: local participation, employment opportunities, and local resources. Ten local community members will be invited to cook a traditional dish from their country of origin to share at the event. Grant funds will be used to pay each resident cook a stipend of $50 for their participation. We will also invite employers that have available positions that pay a living wage or offer the opportunity for advancement. Finally, we will include local nonprofit agencies that offer services specific to the immigrant population. The ATW program has never hosted a job fair catered to this community before. We hope that this event celebrates the cultural diversity of DHA clientele and promotes economic mobility through employment and resources.

The Denver Somali Youth Outreach, a local grassroots non-prot, and local Denver volunteers, have the vision to create a one day, 5-on-5 basketball tournament that will welcome teams from various local and immigrant communities in the Metro Denver area. During a weekend in the month of June, a team of volunteers will execute the one day basketball tournament with Denver Parks and Recreation as a community partner to host at a gym within Denver County. A maximum of 10 teams with 5-8 players each will be able to enroll in the tournament. Each team is guaranteed to play 2-3 games in a round robin followed by a round of playoffs and concluded with a championship game. A trophy presentation will wrap up the event where trophies will be given to the 1st and 2nd place teams along with an individual MVP trophy. 

The East Colfax Community Collective (ECCC) will hold a series of 10 meetings over the next 4 months to coordinate the ECCC’s East Area Plan (EAP) Civic Engagement Campaign to ensure that the immigrant and refugee communities of East Colfax have a strong voice in the outcomes of the EAP. We are asking for DOIRA sponsorship to help us to cover translation needs at our March and April ECCC meetings where we will be coordinating our civic engagement efforts to make the EAP process more equitable and inclusive.

The collective is made up of a diverse group of East Colfax leaders including  Hispanic, Burmese, Karen, Karenni, Afghanistani, Congolese, African American, Eritrean and Ally communities and interpretation support is essential to us being able to create spaces of language justice where all of us can come together and create a common, unified vision of what we need for our neighborhood.

The Go: Westwood project will take place in the Westwood neighborhood. We will begin the day by meeting at Redeemer Lutheran Church (3300 West Nevada Place) at 8:30 am for the check-in. Once volunteers have arrived, the kickoff will get started around 9:00 am. Community leaders will share their vision for the Go: Westwood project, the local police will share safety reminders, and hopefully, the city council representative for the district can share the importance of community projects such as this one. Once everyone has been sufficiently motivated for the day, volunteers will meet up with their project leaders to get more instructions about the specific project their group will be doing. Supplies will be picked up and then volunteers can head to their project sites. Project options include cleaning alleys, removing graffiti, cleaning Alameda Avenue and Morrison Road, preparing community gardens, as well as completing art projects at a local school in the neighborhood. A box lunch will be provided to the volunteers, hopefully from CenterPlate. After projects are completed, a community celebration/block party will likely take place at Westwood Park (4951 West Kentucky Avenue). A request has also been submitted with the Colorado Rockies about donating tickets to the baseball game that night so all Go: Westwood volunteers can celebrate their hard work at the end of the day!

The annual Block Party at New Freedom Park is in celebration of World Refugee Day. The event, in its second year, is a collaboration between two affordable housing organizations/properties, Hope Communities’ Hidden Brook property, and Mercy Housing’s Grace Apartments, that serve primarily refugee and immigrant populations. Anticipated activities include food tastings from a wide range of cultures, a fashion show with children modeling traditional clothing, music, and activities. Last year, the Denver Police Mounted Patrol participated, bringing their horses and setting up a mini obstacle course for kids, and we plan to invite them to return again this year.

The International Heritage Cup is a mini-World Cup themed soccer tournament organized in 2011 to promote outreach and unity between the immigrant, refugee & urban communities in the Denver Metro area through the game of soccer. A 3-day soccer tournament featuring teams from all over the Denver Metro area.

This year's event will feature music by Koffi Togo Vibes opening for the Pink Hawks, with their unique blend of Afrobeat, latin rhythms, hip-hop and disco. Selasee and the Fafa Family band will serve as backup if the Pink Hawks are not available. Their energetic performance last year got the entire audience dancing on the stage. While the band is playing, Koffi will teach simple moves that can help those of all ages, skill levels and abilities participate.  

We are requesting this funds to build an altar in a city building that will bring all cultures together. The altar will be a celebration of life, remembering our love ones.

Levitt Pavilion is requesting funds to help pay for the artistic fee for an acclaimed African artist, to be identified from Papa Dia, from Afrik Impact, for a free concert. Papa Dia has put on numerous events for refugee and immigrant populations and is a respected figure in the community. Of the over 50,000 African immigrants living in Denver, many of them living in Denver's Southwest neighborhoods. While robust in numbers, the community remains somewhat overlooked in the city and culturally underserved. Hosting a Welcoming Week Concert at Levitt is a great event to serve as a safe space for our immigrants and refugees.

The "Dream Yurt" project is designed to eradicate social barriers through the power of art and community, and in place celebrate kinship across our differences. By engaging/challenging systems of power, the project aims to transform systems of structured oppression and displacement while celebrating diversity, promoting social activism, equal justice, and inspiring social change. 

MSU Denver is hosting UndocuMonologues, a performance by and about undocumented 5 community members organized by the MOTUS Theater Company. This unique and powerful performance "encourag[es] thoughtful engagement on the challenges facing the undocumented community and the assets immigrants bring to our country", and it is part of the nationwide UnodcuAmerica media and performance project. More info can be found here: https://www.motustheater.org/undocuamerica. Dinner will precede the performance, which is followed by a Q&A between the audience and performers. The performers, under the supervision of MOTUS Theater, have developed their own personal oral history of their experience, resilience, and vulnerabilities. 

In the Events we would like to offer dinner to the refugees and present to them the resources available to them. We would also like to take that opportunity to match the MYPI youth to a refugee family each.  We plan to partner 10 youth and 10 families. We would also use this opportunity to have Ndeye Ndao train our youth in how they can help the families they will be assigned to and how they can be a great support system for them. This project will allow youth to make a positive impact on their communities and it would allow them to practice great leadership and stewardship. This project would also allow the refugees to feel like they have a support system and a community they can turn to in times of difficulty and confusion.

This is a united event for our students who are refugees and immigrants. A chance to learn a U.S. tradition and be with fellow students at a celebration. This is a chance to build a community among our students and families. A celebration of cultural music and dress, as well as a chance to experience foods and a new tradition.

Irrecha is the Oromo Thanksgiving that has been celebrated for thousands of years by Oromos in East Africa. Oromo celebrates Irrecha twice a year, at the end of the rainy season and drought. The heavy rain of June to September creates swelling rivers and floods that may harm people, cattle, crops, and homes. On the other hand, the dry season of December to March often brings similar problems because of droughts. During Irrecha festival millions of people gather and thank the creator (Waaqaa) for being through the difficult season. Recently, Irrecha has become the most popular festival in Ethiopia. Irrecha is also celebrated around the world where Oromos live, especially in North America and Europe. Here in Colorado, the Oromo community has been celebrating Irrecha for the last eight years. Last October, we celebrated irrecha in Washington Park which attracted over 500 people including many friends outside our community. We serve foods like sandwiches and drinks for the participants, and there will be different activities such as sports, games, music, literature, and cultural shows.  

In 2004, the La Raza Youth Leadership Program (‘Program’) was established to provide concentrated leadership building opportunities, for a small group of motivated Chicano/Latinx* high school students.  Latinx* is a gender-inclusive term. The Program provides youth, an opportunity to achieve their full leadership potential by participating in an intensive leadership program. Twenty-six youth are participating in the Program 2020 cohort. In 2014, the Program merged under Servicios de La Raza, due to losing our 501(c)(3).

Goals for the Program include: providing in-depth training on leadership; presenting youth to current Chicano/Latinx leaders; promoting and facilitating access to higher education; examining and developing a historical understanding of Chicano/Latinx cultural life and struggles in the United States; promoting critical thinking on issues impacting Chicano/Latinxs communities such as immigration, incarceration, and human rights; introducing a variety of leadership theories, styles, and techniques; and promoting civic engagement.

Taste of Ethiopia Festival brings together food, culture and role models in the immigrant community. The event is part of Denver Days and is hosted at Parkfield Lake Park in far-northeast Denver, Montebello / Green Valley Ranch neighborhood.  People from all across the Denver metro area attend this popular event that has been growing the past 8 years.  The attendees are people from all over Africa and Americans who are interested to learn more about Ethiopian and African culture.  Mayor Hancock attends this event every year, and last year Governor Polis also attended.  This is the biggest African event in the state of Colorado.

 


Previous Recipients 

Contact Our Community Integration Coordinator

María Corral, Community Integration Coordinator
immigrants@denvergov.org
(720) 913-3857