The East Vision

Refugee Education Center offers community and transitional help to refugees of Grand Rapids

Ashley Ward, News Editor

Each year, over 90,000 people find refuge in the United States, fleeing persecution and starting a new life in an unknown country across the world. Beginning a new life from scratch is anything but easy, but the Refugee Education Center makes this cultural transition for students in the Grand Rapids area that much easier.

The Refugee Education Center, located in Kentwood, Michigan, was founded in 2006 and helps nearly 100 students each year. Their mission is to empower refugee families to succeed in school and life while giving them a place to socialize and strengthen ties within their community. Refugees come from all across the world including Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Iraq, and Cuba.

“The biggest lesson I have learned through my work with the Refugee Education Center is that no matter how old you are, you still have the skills and resources to do anything. Listen to others and you will learn something” Mimi Workman, advancement coordinator said.

Each day, kids will arrive after school from 3:30 to 6 pm for tutoring, games, and sports. Volunteers generally help once a week after school and during the summer, and are invited to partake in Friday field trips as well.

Volunteers have a large impact on the children in the center with their immersion into a new culture.

“One of the biggest challenges in the transition for many of the kids is the language barrier. Many of the kids are quiet and shy when they first come to us, but activities such as reading and playing games often helps with learning the new language and helps with the barrier” Workman said.

Get involved with the center at

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Refugee Education Center offers community and transitional help to refugees of Grand Rapids