By Chris Hoey

Global Cleveland is taking action on a pressing issue and joining a program that promotes the integration of immigrant and ethnic groups into the larger community. Cleveland will join New York City, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, and Chicago in launching a Community Navigator program, designed to provide a trusty guide and a point of contact to members of marginalized communities.

A Community Navigator is a member of the immigrant and ethnic community who is well-known and well-respected by their peers. He or she will be trained by Global Cleveland staff in a one-day long training session to provide accurate information about their rights as immigrants or refugees and to guide eligible immigrants toward citizenship, often through workshops or other outreach initiatives. A Community Navigator is meant to be a mentor who can help to empower others to lead more confident lives.

“This program is going to allow members of different immigrant communities to be leaders among their peers,” says Jazmin Long. “Our goal is that we reach more people in our naturalization efforts and offer reliable support persons to the international community.”

A second component of the project is known as WE Lead – Women Empowered to Lead. With the establishment of a base cohort of women, Global Cleveland will help immigrant women to become leaders in their communities through training on immigration law and naturalization, financial literacy, leadership development, and expanded immigration legal services. Women Empowered to Lead will work in tandem with our Community Navigator program to create a more involved and integrated international community.

This program has already begun its recruitment efforts, and we hope to have the first Community Navigator training held on October 28th. Additional Community Navigator trainings will be held:

November 18th, 2017
December 2nd, 2017
January 20th, 2018
February 10th, 2018
March 3, 2018
March 24th, 2018
April 14, 2018
April 28, 2018
May 12, 2018
June 9, 2018

 *Dates are subject to change

If anyone is interested in becoming a Community Navigator, they can contact chris@globalcleveland.org for more information. Similarly, if anyone is interested in joining the Women Empowered to Lead Cohort, they can reach out to Jazmin at jazmin@globalcleveland.org.

Overall, this program is the result of a 3 years long grant, and Global Cleveland’s personal goal is to have 30 Community Navigators trained by the end of July 2018. However, with Cleveland’s capacity, we wouldn’t be surprised to see many more volunteers than we expect.

The programs are made possible by the Jones Day Foundation, Cities for Citizenship, and the National Partnership for New Americans.