-Welcome Connect developed by Goldman Sachs, ServiceNow, and Infosys with support from Breakthrough Prize Foundation’s Tech for Refugees initiative connects Americans with Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States
-New ‘Be a Welcomer’ campaign connects Americans with opportunities to welcome refugees, including donations of time, resources, and support
Today, on World Refugee Day, Welcome.US is expanding pathways for Americans to support newcomers, including launching Welcome Connect [ https://ukraine.welcome.us/connect ], a first-of-its-kind platform, developed with support from Goldman Sachs, ServiceNow, Infosys, and the Breakthrough Prize Foundation’s Tech for Refugees initiative. While more than 58,000 Americans have already raised their hand to sponsor Ukrainians seeking safety in the United States, there are still many more in need of refuge who have not yet been matched with a sponsor. To bridge this gap and recruit Americans to sponsor 100,000 Ukrainians [ https://welcome.us/press/welcome-us-announces-goal-to-mobilize-100-000-americans-to-sponsor-ukrainians-seeking-refuge-in-the-united-states ], Welcome.US and its partners created Welcome Connect, a user-friendly platform to provide a safe, streamlined process for Americans looking to connect with beneficiaries and serve displaced Ukrainians in need of a sponsor but without a connection to one.
Starting June 22, Americans interested in being sponsors can sign up through Welcome Connect, where they will complete a training on sponsorship and build a profile. Beginning June 29, Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States will be able to join the platform and once a threshold of profiles are populated for both sponsors and beneficiaries, users will be invited to connect with one another to pursue sponsorship.
Welcome.US is also inviting people across America to pledge to ‘Be a Welcomer’ and take action to support Ukrainian and Afghan newcomers. At the Welcome.US ‘Be a Welcomer’ interactive art installation [https://mailchi.mp/welcome.us/chicago-art-installation-wrd ] in Pioneer Court in Chicago, Illinois from June 17–21, visitors can share a message of welcome for newcomers. Americans can also send a virtual postcard or recorded video message of welcome online [ https://ukraine.welcome.us/wrd2022 ]. As one of the top 10 cities where Afghan and Ukrainian newcomers are being resettled in the United States, Chicago is a microcosm of the welcoming taking place in dozens of communities across the country. As a Welcomer, Americans can support newcomers from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere through sponsorship or by volunteering, donating funds to the Welcome Fund to support community-based organizations and essential goods for home set-ups, or providing other resources including safe transportation or temporary housing through Welcome.US and partners.
“World Refugee Day is an opportunity to recognize the courage and resilience of the millions who are forced to flee their home country and to celebrate all who open their arms to welcome them,” said Welcome.US CEO Nazanin Ash. “We need everyone to get involved, that’s why we are asking Americans to pledge to be a Welcomer and take action to support those seeking safety in the United States. Through the new Welcome Connect platform, and together with our partners throughout the country, Welcome.US is inspiring and empowering people from all across America to unite in common purpose and help newcomers thrive in their new communities.”
CONNECTING DISPLACED UKRAINIANS WITH AMERICAN SPONSORS
Ukrainians fleeing the war can seek refuge in the United States through the recently announced Uniting for Ukraine [ https://www.uscis.gov/ukraine] program. This federal program requires displaced Ukrainians to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, other lawfully present individuals, non-profits, educational institutions, or an employer.
The new Welcome Connect platform brings together interested Americans and individuals fleeing the war in Ukraine who are in need of a sponsor, and initiates the sponsorship process in an accessible, efficient, and secure way. The easy-to-use site is designed to give agency to vulnerable Ukrainians and ensure that first time sponsors have a positive experience.
Welcome Connect was built with engineering leadership from Goldman Sachs [ https://www.goldmansachs.com/citizenship/goldman-sachs-gives/index.html], as well as extensive support from ServiceNow [ https://www.servicenow.com/] and Infosys [https://www.infosys.com/], who are providing expertise and support for the initial build at no cost, including design, development, and technical support. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation’s [https://breakthroughprize.org/] Tech for Refugees initiative will financially support the Welcome Connect platform as it scales, and ServiceNow is hosting Welcome Connect on its Now Platform at no cost. Integrations with additional platforms, including EdApp [https://www.edapp.com/], are also currently being developed.
This solution is designed to meet the immediate needs around sponsorship for displaced Ukrainians, but can be adapted for future work related to private sponsorship for other refugee groups.
MEETING THIS HISTORIC MOMENT
This year, World Refugee Day marks an unprecedented moment as the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached 89.3 million by the end of 2021 and has now surpassed 100 million for the first time in history, according to the UN refugee agency [https://www.unhcr.org/62a9d1494/global-trends-report-2021]. Spurred by the war in Ukraine, the fall of Kabul in August 2021, and other recent international conflicts, this figure represents one in every 78 people in the world that has been forced to flee their homes, which is equivalent to the 14th most populous country.
Welcome.US was founded to unite, inspire, and empower Americans to support those seeking refuge here, beginning with Afghan refugees evacuated to the United States after the fall of Kabul in August 2021. Welcome.US’ ultimate ambition is to grow the contributions and deep desire of everyday Americans to help newcomers into durable capacity and an enduring commitment to welcome those seeking refuge here.
In partnership with local and national resettlement agencies, community organizations and leaders, refugees, community sponsorship groups, nonprofits, businesses, faith-based institutions, veterans, universities, four former Presidents and four former First Ladies, Welcome.US is the single point of entry for Americans who want to get involved and support those who are starting new lives in the United States.
To learn more about Welcome.US, please visit welcome.us [http://www.welcome.us/].