Fostering New American integration through work with individuals, families, and the Greater Grand Forks Community.
Global Friends Coalition is both an old and new organization. For approximately twenty years the "Grand Forks Refugee Resettlement Coalition" was a loose group of volunteers who assisted refugees resettled through New American Services (NAS), a program of Lutheran Social Services.
In 2008, Global Friends Coalition received its 501(c)(3) status. Since then it has built a strong board of directors, created a successful mentoring program, hosted numerous community events each year, built partnerships with many local agencies, and became a strong, professional organization to which the city looks to foster immigrant integration as the community becomes more and more diverse.
The number of refugees being resettled in Grand Forks began increasing in 2008 and peaked in 2013. An estimated 300-400 secondary migrants moved here from other cities in the U.S. calling Greater Grand Forks home. As more refugees came into our community, the needs became broad thus, the coalition developed itself into an organization with a clear mission: refugee integration.
In 2017, the number of resettled refugees dropped considerably and in 2019, Grand Forks only received two refugees. Global Friends is continuing its work focusing on integrating refugees into the community by taking a “two-prong” approach. We assist refugees in learning English and helping them navigate the community and we provide opportunities for American born community members to learn about refugees and what strengths they bring.
1. REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT
We are a Reception & Placement (R&P) affiliate of Church World Service, a national resettlement agency.
We are responsible for federally required R&P services from arrival through day 90 in the U.S. for individuals and families resettled through Global Friends, such as:
Arrivals in 2023 have come from, or are expected to come from, countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Pakistan, and Syria. We have been approved to resettle up to 60 individuals in Grand Forks in FY 2023 (ending September 30, 2023).
If you would like to get involved in our resettlement program, click here for more information.
2. NEW AMERICAN INTEGRATION
We offer several programs to help New Americans settle into a welcoming community.
FAMILY MENTORS AND ADULT EDUCATION
Mentors provide guidance and support to refugees through social interaction, cultural sharing, and English conversation. Many New Americans settling in Grand Forks have never known life outside a refugee camp, and face a steep learning curve. Mentors help New Americans acclimate to life here, including changes in climate, diet, customs, expectations, and laws. Mentors respond to questions that arise and help teach New Americans to navigate various social and bureaucratic systems, thereby helping them to become self-sufficient and to realize their full potential. Global Friends Coalition encourages mentors to take New Americans to public services such as the library and city parks, as well as thrift stores and community events. These opportunities for social participation are essential to successful refugee integration
Global Friends staff also provide direct service and case management to individuals and families who request help with issues such as filing out Medicaid and SNAP forms, benefit verification, communicating with service providers, and advocacy on behalf of the family.
Adult Education consists of various rotating classes and programming, including basic and advanced English classes, citizenship interview and test preparation classes, driving instruction, sewing classes, yoga programming, and others. Check out our Facebook page for our latest offerings.
Volunteers are matched with English language learners at schools to assist with homework, help build English skills and confidence, and serve as positive role models.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH AND ADVOCACY
This program provides New Americans and members of the Greater Grand Forks community opportunities to learn more about our community and become engaged in meaningful ways.
Each year, Global Friends Coalition hosts or co-hosts a number of community events, including a community picnic, and World Refugee Day held at the Town Square during the Farmers Market. Global Friends Coalition also honors requests from community groups to make presentations at its gatherings to better educate their members. In addition, Global Friends Coalition partners with local organizations on projects aimed at supporting New Americans.
If you would like to volunteer in our New American Integration program, please click here for more information.
3. IMMIGRATION LEGAL SERVICES
We are a U.S. Department of Justice recognized organization and we have staff members who are partially accredited representatives who are qualified and permitted to practice immigration law.
Some of the services we provide include:
To talk with one of our accredited representatives, please click here and fill out the form.
Many of the refugees arriving in Grand Forks are originally from Bhutan, but are ethnically Nepali. In addition to the Bhutanese, Lutheran Social Services New Americans is also resettling refugees from Somalia, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Secondary refugees are also moving to Grand Forks on their own, primarily from Somalia and Nepal.
Global Friends Coalition has three primary goals:
Global Friends Coalition aims to educate New Americans through English and citizenship classes. We provide classroom and in-home English instruction to New Americans.
New Americans are empowered through mentorship, and leadership and community involvement opportunities. Youth Liaisons inform the Board about needs and interests in their cultural communities. The events that we put on, and the presentations that we give in the community, are better because of the leadership demonstrated by youth. New Americans who are empowered, thrive.
Global Friends embraces New Americans by fostering a more welcoming, equitable, and accessible community through community outreach and advocacy.