Thanks to Impact100 Metro Denver’s generous support, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Denver has made tremendous progress in launching its Financial Capability for New Americans (FC4NA) program. Specifically, Impact100 funds have supported program staff and established the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) in Denver. CEO is the IRC’s subsidiary Community Development Financial Institution, which allows IRC to engage in character-based lending for refugees and other clients who complete required education and participate in financial coaching. In absence of lending through CEO, these individuals are typically unable to access traditional financing mechanisms to advance their economic wellbeing, and are vulnerable to missteps and predatory lending.
Shortly after receiving the Impact100 grant award, IRC in Denver initiated recruitment for a Financial Capability Coordinator and completed preliminary steps to set up systems that would support lending and allow the Financial Capability Coordinator to hit the ground running. In November 2018, IRC welcomed Mousa Alkhafaji to the team as Financial Capability Coordinator. An Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holder who supported the U.S. mission in Iraq and a former IRC client, Mousa just celebrated his 2-year anniversary in the U.S. along with his wife and two children. Since he and his family arrived, Mousa has dreamed of working to support his fellow refugees, SIVs and other immigrants. He is now immersed in those efforts as he leads IRC in Denver’s work to integrate FC4NA into existing programs and provide direct services in the form of group education, individualized financial coaching and counseling, and direct consumer lending through CEO. He was recently certified as a financial coach, after completing the Central New Mexico Community College’s training program in January 2019. As of the end of January, he had already provided individualized financial education and budgeting support to 16 refugee households and had successfully made IRC in Denver’s first credit-building loan, with several other loans in the pipeline. Mousa is looking forward to continuing to connect with IRC clients and solidifying the FC4NA program, while cultivating partnerships that will ultimately allow the program to accept referrals of people who are not part of IRC’s client base. He is also excited to introduce other loan products, in addition to credit-building loans, to provide funding for asset-building, work supports, education and possibly even immigration needs, and to collaborate with IRC’s Skills Trainer to deepen financial literacy programming for refugee women and girls.
IRC in Denver clients and staff alike are energized by the addition of this programming, are grateful to Impact100 Metro Denver for providing the funding to launch FC4NA and support longer-term economic wellbeing for refugees. IRC is also excited to share that Impact100’s initial investment was instrumental in helping IRC secure a $100,000 grant from another donor that will supplement the Impact100 funding to allow for full implementation of the FC4NA program through 2019. Thank you for your support!