Polk Bros. Foundation believes that families belong together. We believe that policies and practices should protect refugees and asylum seekers, not separate children from parents. And we continue to believe that Chicago’s immigrant and refugee communities strengthen Chicago and are integral to our city’s identity.
Philanthropy can, and must, respond to and confront the grave and urgent challenges facing people seeking refuge in the United States today. A new report from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees offers ideas about how. Philanthropic Strategies to Support Refugees and Asylum Seekers presents 10 case studies detailing diverse grantmakers responses to the recent Central American and Syrian refugee crises, as well as to deteriorating U.S. humanitarian policies.
We’re honored Polk Bros. Foundation is profiled among them, and are grateful to our nonprofit partners who are deeply engaged in immigrant- and refugee-focused supportive services, advocacy and systems change.
While Polk Bros.’ grantmaking focuses on addressing challenges and harnessing opportunities that enable all Chicagoans to reach their full potential, at times specific policies or situations — positive and negative — impact particular populations in Chicago and demand a specialized response to either maximize potential benefits or mitigate harm. In 2012, for example, when President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Polk Bros. mobilized area funders to help young people apply for DACA, leading to the creation of the Illinois Immigration Funders Collaborative, which continues to operate to this day. Similarly, in response to harsh new federal policies, in June 2017 the Polk Bros.’ board of directors authorized the creation of an Urgent Action Fund. More than $150,000 in rapid response funds has been deployed from that Fund for immigrants and refugees: to support legal and guardianship planning services, know-your rights trainings, and mental health workshops. Home to over 1 million immigrants and an estimated 12,000 refugees, many from Iraq and other countries included in the administration’s travel ban, Chicago’s refugee and immigrant families, communities, and support infrastructure have been highly impacted by the new policies.