PRERNA is one of the first refugee service providers in the United States to focus on empowering refugees on a multi-year continuum basis of support towards self-sufficiency. Since obtaining our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 2015, PRERNA has helped over 50 refugees annually and hopes to double our caseload in 2017. Through a range of fundamental services, case management, mentoring and after-care programs, we plan to serve approximately 100 refugees this year.
We help refugee families maximize the benefit of federal funds they receive by providing supplemental goods and services to reduce their initial expenditures. In addition to providing food, shelter and clothing, our volunteer teams are there to offer emotional and moral support during this stressful time. PRERNA’s programs have evolved over a decade of work with refugees and are carried out by dedicated volunteers focused on ensuring that their needs for housing, supplies, education, employment and other essentials are met.
The first few months after arrival into the U.S. are one of the most critical periods for refugee resettlement. The 90-day temporary support period typically offered by most resettlement agencies is impossibly short and leaves refugees stranded in their new homeland with no guidance or support. This is when PRERNA steps in — offering continued support to our refugee clients. Although we offer help for up to five years if needed; with PRERNA’s guidance, 100 percent of our refugee families meet their initial goals of long-term housing, education and employment within 12 months.
There are several factors that make PRERNA truly unique:
- We are an all-volunteer organization.
- All funding is supported through private channels, as we do not receive any government funding.
- PRERNA’s approach is to help new refugee families leave the CalWORKs welfare system as quickly as possible and become independent, constructive citizens who can contribute to the country they now call home.
Learn more about our work by reading our Impact Report for 2016.
1. Education - PRERNA encourages refugee youth to pursue education. We assist students with enrollment and financial aid applications to make advanced education possible. Newly arrived refugees who began to learn English after settling in the U.S. are now planning to enroll, have enrolled or graduated from higher education institutions including Schools of Engineering.
2. Employment - We help prepare adults for employment through English language courses, vocational training, mock interviews and business etiquette to prepare them for job opportunities. Through PRERNA’s mentor volunteers, we also build their confidence to search for employment. Newcomers are empowered by becoming proficient in English, which raises their chances of success in finding a job. Through PRERNA’s continuing guidance, refugees can pursue greater opportunities for advancement, providing them with the means for a better future. As we help our clients become financially independent with sustainable income, they can exit the CalWORKs welfare system quickly and minimize their reliance on community social services.
3. Youth Development - We encourage refugee youth to become volunteers through our Community Engagement program. Youth mentors “pay it forward” by helping newly arrived refugees and their families resettle into the U.S. as they once did.
Students from local schools who interact with refugees also benefit as they are reminded of core values including gratitude, compassion and leadership. As they learn about the experiences of the refugees who are from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, they reflect and compare how their lives as a native-born American are different and the same.
4. Support System - PRERNA’s model is to build an ecosystem of support through our structured programs that are implemented by volunteers and community partners. In 2016, PRERNA developed 22 business partnerships in the Bay Area and it’s just the beginning of our journey to build a scalable foundation. At every step, our focus is on helping the refugees and we know every family scenario is unique. That’s why PRERNA offers a customized approach to meet individual needs, whether it’s helping with driver’s training, preparing for SATs, paying a medical bill, financial planning or something else.
5. Community Benefits - The entire community wins when refugees are welcomed and become well assimilated. Local employers gain a valuable resource of multi-lingual workers, the economy is boosted with higher levels of consumption and productivity, and we learn from people of different cultures who bring diversity into our neighborhoods.
The journey for refugees to leave the homelands they love is difficult enough, without thinking about how to rebuild their lives after being uprooted. The least that we can do is welcome them and help facilitate the various systems and structures so they have a better chance for success in their new country.
When refugee children and young adults are taught English, encouraged in their education and engaged in civic activities, they become the next generation of potential leaders. It is advantageous for all Americans, native-born and immigrants alike, to devote time and resources to support refugees. PRERNA is committed to helping every refugee acquire the skills and opportunity to build a life they deserve – as contributing, sustainable and thriving members of our community.
Learn about some of the refugee families we have helped through these testimonials.