A Philadelphia woman now holds the second-highest honor a civilian can receive in our country – the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Project Shine is a foundation that helps refugees from other countries adapt to our culture. (Video)
How hard would it be to obtain proper medical care if you didn’t understand most of the terms being used or didn’t know what role different health care workers providers played in your care?
Celebrating a Year of Champions of Change – President Obama Meets with 12 Champions across the country, Who Are Making a Difference in Their Communities. As Patience Lehrman, National Director of Project SHINE noted, the Champions program expanded the platform of her work nationally and internationally. Five months after the Champions of Change designation, she was invited as a guest presenter at a global immigrant integration conference in Hamburg, Germany where she spoke about the benefits of promoting immigrant integration through multi-sector collaboration. In addition, Mrs. Lehrman noted that her meeting with President Obama and his senior staff reinforces the fact that the Obama administration believes in ordinary Americans and the role they can play in shaping the future of our nation.
After Project SHINE was awarded the Migration Policy Institute's prestigious E Pluribus Unum award for excellence in Immigrant Integration, Director of Project SHINE, Patience Lehrman, spoke on the role of immigrants in American society.
When Patience Lehrman immigrated from a village in Cameroon, West Africa, to a small town in Washington state, she never imagined she would one day sit at a White House roundtable advising top immigration policymakers. But this May, that is exactly what Lehrman, a recent Fox School of Business Executive MBA graduate and national director of Temple’s Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders), found herself doing.
Competing against 450 applicants, Project SHINE was selected by the Migration Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. as one of four 2011 E Pluribus Unum Prize recipients for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives. Lehrman accepted a $50,000 award on behalf of Project SHINE and was invited to join top government officials at an immigration policy roundtable discussion. After the event, Lehrman was named a White House Champion of Change.
Just a week after President Obama gave a major speech on immigration in El Paso, Texas, Lehrman sat with fellow Champions of Change and four government officials to discuss what must be done on both government and grassroots levels “to fix our broken immigration system.”
“Often people look to the federal government for a solution,” Lehrman said. “I’m of the school of thought that says, ‘No way. The solution is right here – right here with you and I, right here in the community where we deal with these issues every day.’”
For Lehrman, Project SHINE is part of the solution. SHINE, a nonprofit born at Temple’s Intergenerational Center, operates in 19 campuses in nine states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Students provide important English, civics and literacy knowledge to an immigrant population that is often overlooked by others. At the same time, they are exposed to the rich cultures and experiences of older immigrants.
Since SHINE’s inception in 1985, it has trained nearly 10,000 college students and assisted more than 40,000 immigrants.
Lehrman says Fox’s EMBA program has been essential to her work at Project SHINE and the success that earned it the E Pluribus Unum Prize and Champion of Change title. The program helped her re-position the SHINE brand and apply value to her work in the nonprofit sector.
Lehrman sees the value of immigration initiatives like Project SHINE as endless.
“I remind elected officials, business and community leaders that immigrants are your best asset,” said Lehrman, who also earned her master’s degrees in education and organizational development at Temple.
“For America to be positioned to win the future – economically, politically, socially – we have to wake up and recognize that what makes America the greatest country is our ability to integrate diversity.”
As a Champion of Change, Lehrman has taken the lead to convene a roundtable discussion in partnership with the City Council of Philadelphia in response to Obama’s call to action to address the immigration system.
Ultimately she wants to help remove the “veil of radioactivity” that often surrounds immigrants and to help the country realize that, “We don’t have a single human being to waste.”
– Christine Fisher
The T&TA Project for Refugee Communities from Bhutan and Burma is a three-year initiative supported by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that seeks to build capacity of the Bhutanese and Burmese communities so that they can better organize and address the resettlement and long term integration needs of their community members.
SEARAC works in partnership with the Intergenerational Center (IGC) at Temple University, MOSAICA: The Center for Nonprofit Development and Pluralism, and the Karen American Communities Foundation (KACF) to implement this project.
The project includes three components:
Building community relationship and gaining greater understanding of community needs
Building capacity of community members to organize and help refugees toward self-sufficiency
Increasing local service and resource collaborations amongst social service providers, resettlement agencies, ethnic CBOs, and refugee leaders from Bhutan and Burma.
The groups/organizations that were selected for this project include:
Bhutanese community sites in Atlanta, GA & Houston, TX:
Bhutanese Association of GA (BAG)
Bhutanese Community of GA (BCG)
Bhutanese Nepali Community of Houston (BNC)
Bhutanese American Association of Houston (BAAH)
Communities from Burma:
Chin Community Development (CCD), Frederick, MD
Through Karen American Community Foundation (KACF)
Karen community of North Carolina
Karen community in Kansas, Missouri and Kansas, KS
SEARAC works with selected sites and groups for a period of 12 months. The technical support includes helping selected groups and organizations to define and refine their organizational mission and objectives, establish leadership and operational infrastructure, develop meaningful and accountable service program designs, and build strategic community partnerships and networks for sustainability and growth.
Project SHINE was honored with the E Pluribus Unum 2011 award by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). The E Pluribus Unum Prizes are a national awards program that provides awards annually to exceptional initiatives that promote immigrant integration.
The awards recognize outstanding immigrant integration initiatives of all types, whether led by nonprofit or community organizations, businesses, public agencies, religious groups, or individuals.
The awards program is coordinated by the Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy - a hub for those who seek to build their knowledge and skills in the area of immigrant integration.
The J.M. Kaplan Fund is generously providing support for these awards to focus attention on successful integration initiatives and to inspire and provide program models to others around the United States who might also undertake such efforts.