Refugee Action Fund came into existence as a response to the large gap in funding needed to support forcibly displaced people. Today, less than 1% of U.S. philanthropy supports immigrants, and an even smaller percentage supports refugees and asylum seekers. Most funding for benefits large organizations, while frontline community-based groups — those that are best positioned to understand complex needs and provide critical services — often get left behind.
As a strategic grantmaking organization, Refugee Action Fund plays a critical role in connecting donors who want to help address the refugee crisis (but may not know where to start) with a diversified portfolio of grantees who are aiding, advocating for, and advancing the status of refugees globally. We fund emergency aid, comprehensive legal service, economic and social integration support, as well as advocacy and litigation to promote long-term policy change. Our role is to serve as a bridge from generous donors to frontline and community-based groups who are doing critical work to support forcibly-displaced people. We help philanthropists ensure that their dollars make the greatest impact on those who need it most.
Since our inception, Refugee Action Fund has donated almost $1.5 million to innovative organizations providing safety, dignity and opportunity to thousands of people who have been forced from their homes. Our grantmaking is directed to forcibly displaced people as a broad category to encompass individuals fleeing their homelands in search of safety. We understand that “refugee” and “asylee” are limited legal categories that do not capture the evolving reality of displacement for many individuals and families fleeing for their lives. We are attentive to trends that cause forced displacement—including violence by gangs, widespread domestic abuse, and climate change.
The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and increase in race-based violence has only strengthened our conviction in our mission and amplified our attention to serving the most vulnerable refugees. We focus on those who are often excluded from receiving life-saving services because of their identity – including indigenous, Black, and LGBTQ+ migrants. We believe strongly in prioritizing funding to organizations that are community-based and representative of the constituents they serve, as we believe that those who have directly experienced displacement are oftentimes best positioned to support their communities.
We utilize Trust-Based Philanthropy to address power dynamics in philanthropy and to build equity between donors and grantees. We provide unrestricted general support funding to ensure our grantees have the capacity to implement their vision and drive their agenda. We streamline applications and reporting to reduce the burden on our grantees. We build relationships based on transparency, dialogue, and mutual learning.
Our grantmaking is guided by our core values: compassion and action; continuous learning and innovation; accountability and transparency; and commitment to center the experiences and voices of those who are most vulnerable. Together with our partners, we are doing our part to build a world in which refugees and asylum seekers can thrive.
African Communities Together (ACT), to empowers African immigrants to integrate socially, get ahead economically, and engage civically. ACT connects African immigrants to critical services, helps Africans develop as leaders, and organizes their communities on the issues that matter.
American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project, to provide access to justice and pro-bono legal support to indigent immigrants and asylum seekers in detention.
CIELO, to empower indigenous migrants to create solutions to the social, economic and cultural challenges facing their communities, including access to culturally sensitive interpreters in immigration proceedings.
Haitian Bridge Alliance, to support Haitian and African asylum seekers through direct humanitarian support, legal services and advocacy.
International Refugee Assistance Project, to provide legal advocacy for refugees and displaced people in need of a safe place to call home through free direct legal representation, systemic advocacy and impact litigation.
Lamp Lifeboat Ladder, to resettle refugees who are survivors of torture or sexual violence and provide them with the social infrastructure they need to heal and rebuild their lives.
Safe Passage Project, to provide free lawyers to refugee and immigrant children who face deportation back to life-threatening situations, despite their strong legal claim to stay in the US.