Refugee Kids Connect meets refugee children where they’re at to give mentoring and support

The Zone Project is an initiative focused on safe and nurtured kids, thriving families, and connected schools and neighborhoods in northeast Spokane. In partnership with The Zone Project, Innovia Foundation received a three-year investment from the Ballmer Group to support expanded learning opportunities in northeast Spokane.

The goal of The Zone Project Expanded Learning Program (ELP) is to sponsor measurable, sustainable programming outside school hours, supporting youth during key transition years. The ELP works closely with Spokane Public Schools, families, youth-serving organizations, and partners in health and social service.

Last year, Innovia awarded over $277,000 to six organizations in the first year of ELP grants. Refugee Connections Spokane received $65,000 to expand their Refugee Kids Connect mobile program. The program meets refugee children where they live by providing activities near community centers and schools. Once a week, youth can participate in programming that includes English language support, homework help, field trips and training in life skills.

“Our refugee youth and parents have expressed great satisfaction and gratitude for the program,” says Marijke Fakassiieiki, Executive Director of Refugee Connections. “Because school can be one of the most challenging aspects of a refugee child’s experience, we do our best to make ourselves available anytime to help youth.” Though programming may look different during the pandemic, Refugee Kids Connect is still dedicated to helping youth develop social and practical skills, and ultimately thrive in their communities.