– In 2019, The Heath Foundation of Central Massachusetts (THFCM) awarded Ascentria Cara Alliance (ACA) an $81,600 Activation Grant for ACA’s Immigration Legal Assistance Program (ILAP). The funding allowed ILAP to expand its low cost legal assistance for immigrants and refugees by offering full legal representation to low income clients who could afford to pay reduced legal fees. The demand for those services has exceeded the capacity of current ILAP staff that was funded by THFCM, so ACA has decided to build upon their start-up funding, and to add two full time attorneys and four paralegals to meet the increased demand.
“Given the comprehensive legal service needs of immigrant and refugee communities in Massachusetts and the New England area, ILAP’s low cost program has filled a critical need,” said Jennifer Eby Kone, Director of Legal Services for ILAP. “This program aims to serve immigrants and refugees who are unable to access pro-bono immigration services, which is often due to low-income caps, funder priorities that preclude them due to their immigration status or case type, or the limited capacity of such programs. The demand for affordable immigration legal services has not waned and ILAP continues to support this underserved sector of the immigrant population.”
This August and September, with the evacuation from Kabul, Afghanistan, approximately 52,000 Afghans have been relocated to US military bases as Humanitarian Parolees. ACA, along with the other refugee resettlement agencies across the country, will be resettling these Afghan evacuees in places like Worcester over the coming months. In addition to providing for their safe resettlement, ACA and other agencies will be asked to provide a variety of legal services as these evacuees will not have refugee status. Currently, there is no funding available for agencies like ACA to provide these much needed services.
THFCM has just proactively committed new funding of $50,000 to ILAP which will allow it to provide additional staff support for the next six months to begin to process the Afghan evacuees through the immigration system. “This funding could not have come at a more critical time,” said Jeff Kinney, Chief of Strategic Development for ACA. He added, “THFCM has been a great partner to us and we are very appreciative of how they think in advance to help address issues like this.”
Dr. Jan Yost, THFCM President and CEO, added, “The Foundation is pleased to support Ascentria in providing legal services to Afghan evacuees, building upon the 2019 Activation Fund grant which set the groundwork from which Ascentria is now able to quickly ramp up. Assisting these Afghan evacuees obtain the legal status necessary to be eligible for existing supports and services will enable these individuals and families to fully integrate into their new communities in the long-term.”
About Ascentria Care Alliance
As one of the largest nonprofit, human service organizations in New England, Ascentria Care Alliance empowers people of all backgrounds to rise together and reach beyond life’s challenges. We use an innovative human-centered care model to help individuals and families move forward and thrive – physically, intellectually, socially, spiritually and economically.
With many locations throughout the region, Ascentria serves children, youth and families; persons with developmental disabilities and mental illness; refugees, including unaccompanied refugee minors; and older adults.
Through productive collaborations and partnerships, we create measurable, positive impact that enriches our communities. Inspired by our faith-based heritage and guided by compassion, courage and integrity, we envision a world in which everyone can realize their fullest potential and share with others in need.
Ascentria Care Alliance
11 Shattuck Street
Worcester, MA 01605
About The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts
The Health Foundation was established in 1999 with the proceeds from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO. The Foundation has assets of approximately $95 million and has awarded grants totaling over $45 million since it began its grant making in 2000. For further information about these grants or about the Foundation’s grant making programs and application process, please visit The Health Foundation’s website at www.hfcm.org
or call (508) 438-0009.