Educational & Community Resources for Immigrant Students & Families
Immigrants are a crucial part of the fabric of the United States, contributing billions of dollars annually to the US economy and enriching the cultural diversity of the US as a whole. In fact, today America is home to over 40 million immigrants, more than any other country in the world. Still, with increasingly strict government regulations taking hold and with discrimination against immigrants once again on the rise, it’s more important than ever that the population has access to educational and community resources for immigrants.
Being able to learn English and other necessary skills can make all the difference when it comes to finding employment as an immigrant. But finding educational opportunities can be a mess of bureaucratic red tape for those who are able to obtain documentation and a near impossibility for undocumented folks living in the US.
Likewise, community resources for immigrants, including legal services, health care, and more, are a necessity, particularly in a political landscape that seems to be shifting and changing with each passing day. Community organizations for immigrants and nonprofits for immigrants are doing an incredible job of stepping up to fill this need for services, but there is still plenty more that can and should be done.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of community and educational resources for immigrants to help immigrants and the folks who are allied with them find important and necessary services. Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:
- 17 free English classes and educational resources for immigrants
- 34 community resources and nonprofits that support immigrants
- 4 government resources for immigrants
Free English classes & educational resources for immigrants
Many local nonprofits, public libraries, and schools provide free English courses and adult education classes for immigrants, so be sure to check with places like that in your neighborhood to see what they’ve got to offer. These are a few places around the country and online where you can take English and other classes for free:
- Alison. This popular online class platform offers a free three-hour course on the US Citizenship test to help you pass the exam and ace your interview. Find Alison promo codes here.
- Arriba Juntos. For Bay Area residents, Arriba Juntos offers English language classes and other career-oriented courses. They also offer workforce training and employment services for young people.
- Best Colleges. Check out their College Guide For Undocumented Students to learn more about how to find and apply for schools as an undocumented student.
- Citizenship Works. This free online tool is a project from several immigrant nonprofits that you can use to complete your naturalization process by yourself online. They also have opportunities to have a consultation with a lawyer regarding your citizenship both through video chat online and in person. Use their Find Legal Help tool to locate nonprofits and legal services in your area.
- College Board. Visit their Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students to find scholarships, institutions, and student organizations that are available for undocumented students.
- Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE). This program is a collaboration between several community colleges across the US dedicated to ensuring that immigrants have the opportunity to receive an education. Check here to find programs near you.
- El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center (Jupiter, FL). El Sol provides a number of services to local residents, particularly day workers, including free classes in ESL, literacy classes in native languages, computer literacy courses, and vocational workshops.
- LDS Humanitarian Center. Salt Lake City residents who are refugees and immigrants can receive English language and career training at the LDS Humanitarian Center. Training typically lasts up to 18 months and is followed by job search assistance.
- LINCS Learner Center. Maintained by the US Department of Education, this site connects you with several different free online resources for learning English, reading, math, career skills, and the information you need to become a US citizen.
- Modern States. This program isn’t specifically for immigrants, but it offers one full tuition-free year of online courses that can be converted to college credit if you choose to pursue a college education. Registration is easy and available to everyone.
- New York Public Library (NYPL). The NYPL system offers English classes at over 40 locations throughout NYC. Classes run in 10-week cycles, typically meeting twice per week for two hours per session. You can take English as a second language, adult basic education classes, or English for work if you’re seeking work or want to advance in your career.
- Ready to Work. Seattle residents can take English and computer literacy classes for free through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs’ Ready to Work program. They also offer case management to help you prepare for and enter the workforce.
- Refugee Center Online Classroom. Refugee Center offers free courses to help you earn your GED and to give you the information you need to pass the US Citizenship test. They’ve also got practice tests available for each subject.
- The Immigrant Learning Center. This Malden, MA nonprofit offers free English classes to refugees and immigrants ages 16 and up. Registration is open weekly, however you must apply in person.
- Trace Effects. This free online game is hosted by the American English branch of the US Department of State. It’s designed to help children ages 12 to 16 learn English language and American culture by solving puzzles and interacting with diverse English-speaking characters throughout the US.
- USA Learns. This site offers free beginner and intermediate English classes to help you learn the language online. Their USA Learns Citizenship course can also provide you with the information you need for your naturalization interview and for other legal aspects of the immigration process.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Check out this page to find an English or citizenship preparation class near you.
- US Citizenship Support. US Citizenship Support has free online trainings and practice tests to help you pass the US citizenship exams.
Community organizations & resources for immigrants
There are many nonprofits throughout the US that offer free and low-cost legal services, educational opportunities, employment services, and more. Here we’ve listed some of the big national organizations as well as a few local and regional nonprofits that can help you, but be sure to do some research about the programming available in your region.
- Bethany Christian Services. For people in western Michigan, Bethany offers a number of different services for immigrants and refugees including employment services, job search assistance, and workforce training classes to help you find work.
- Building One Community. Based in Stamford, CT, Building One Community provides a number of different services including English and adult literacy classes, legal services for families and individuals, and a workforce development program.
- Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities is a national nonprofit with chapters in many cities across the US. One of their main tenets is providing services and advocating for immigrants and refugees. Many of their local chapters offer education and employment resources specifically for immigrants. Check here to find a chapter near you.
- Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). While most of CLINIC’s work involves helping other nonprofits and charitable organizations to expand their service delivering capacity for immigrants, their website has a number of different resources on topics including DACA, know your rights training, and family separation. Check out their free guide to help you learn about the requirements and prepare for your citizenship test.
- Center for New Americans. Folks in western Massachusetts can get access to job support and employment resources from the Center for New Americans.
- Florida Immigrant Coalition. Immigrants in Florida can check out the resources and services provided by the Florida Immigrant Coalition. In addition to providing resources, they advocate to help address the root causes of inequality for immigrants.
- Freedom for Immigrants. This California-based nonprofit sends volunteers to visit folks who are in detention and hosts a hotline that you can call if you or a loved one ends up in detention. They also run a storytelling project that empowers people who are in detention or who are impacted by immigrant detention to share their stories.
- iAmerica. iAmerica is a project of multiple different nonprofits that support immigrants. Their website has a Know Your Rights section to help you navigate interactions with police and ICE in addition to a page with resources for legal help, starting the path to citizenship, and more.
- Immi. This project from the Pro Bono Network can connect English and Spanish-speaking immigrants with legal help. Their Learning Center is a great resource for finding out more about immigration issues, plus they’ve got a program to help you make a plan if you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one being deported.
- Immigration Advocates Network. While this nonprofit’s work is mainly assisting other nonprofits and support organizations with immigration programs and policy, their website has some useful information for immigrants including an immigration legal services directory.
- Immigrant Defense Project. The Immigrant Defense Project is a New York City nonprofit that offers legal services and other resources to immigrants. Their Community Resources page is a wealth of information on navigating ICE raids, emergency preparedness regarding deportation, and community education resources to help folks directly impacted by ICE and mass deportations advocate and educate in their own communities.
- Immigrants Rising. This San Francisco nonprofit provides financial and educational resources to immigrants in addition to programming to empower immigrants to share their stories.
- Immigrant Welcome Center. Based in Indianapolis, IN, the Immigrant Welcome Center can connect new immigrants with health care, food, transportation, employment, legal help, language services, and more.
- Immigration Equality. Immigration Equality is specifically dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTQIA+ immigrants in the US. You can contact them online get free support from their legal team, plus they have resources to help you know your rights (particularly as a queer person or couple), learn more about the asylum process, and navigate issues specific to LGBTQIA+ immigrants.
- Informed Immigrant. This nonprofit has an online resource aimed at helping immigrants know their rights when it comes to arrest and detention by the police. In addition to their online guides and learning tools, they provide an excellent search tool for finding legal and other service providers who can assist you.
- Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice. This organization connects folks from different faiths in their movement for immigrant justice. In addition to hotline reporting for ICE sightings and know your rights resources, they also offer volunteer accompaniment to immigration office check-ins and court hearings.
- Karam Foundation. This organization works specifically with Syrian refugees living in the US. Their first US-based program, Jumpstart For Refugees, provides services including emergency assistance, job and education advancement, referrals to community organizations, and their car program which helps families go through the process of finding a car and getting licensed to drive. They also offer scholarships and college prep courses to help students get prepared to advance to college.
- League of United Latin American Citizens. In addition to advocating on behalf of Latin American citizens of all immigrant statuses, the League of United Latin American Citizens offers programming for immigrants in health, economic empowerment, education, and civic participation.
- Lutheran Social Services (LSS). LSS is a national nonprofit with chapters at many locations across the US. Most chapters have a service program for immigrants, particularly employment assistance and legal services. Contact your local chapter for more information.
- Make The Road. Based in New York City, Make The Road provides programming for immigrants that includes adult literacy, leadership development, legal services, health care access, and youth groups.
- Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. This organization provides legal and education services for immigrants of Latinx descent. Although most of their work is in policy and litigation, they have resources on their page that can help immigrants as well as training programs that can help immigrants and their allies better assist immigrants in their communities.
- My Immigration Story. My Immigration Story encourages people to share their immigration stories and helps readers learn more about the lives of immigrants from their own perspective. You can submit a story for publication on their website.
- My Undocumented Life. In addition to being a blog featuring articles on issues facing undocumented folks in the US, this website offers information and resources on getting scholarships, accessing higher education, and navigating DACA.
- National Immigration Law Center. The National Immigrant Law Center is a nonprofit that does legal and advocacy work around immigrant issues. Check out their Issues pages to get useful information and resources on topics including health care, workers’ rights, economic support, and more.
- National Immigration Project. Although this nonprofit is mainly for lawyers and legal nonprofits, they have a community resources page where you’ll find information on your rights, what to do if you’re the victim of a crime, and a list of other resources.
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. This organization advocates for immigrant justice and offers programming and online resources that are useful to US immigrants. Check out their online resources to learn more about organizing, the naturalization process, know your rights training, and specific resources for students and youth as well as workers and advocates.
- New Americans Campaign. The New Americans Campaign helps you to find free and low-cost legal help for people who want to go through the naturalization process. They have events at locations throughout the US and can help you find assistance with their online directory. Check out their From New Americans page to read stories from immigrants who have gone through the naturalization process.
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. This organization provides direct legal services and community education for immigrants in Washington state.
- Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Based in Texas, RAICES offers a number of different services to immigrant families including pro bono legal services, removal defense, residency and citizenship services, and assistance with DACA renewals. You can seek assistance from them at their locations in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
- Refugee Women’s Alliance. This Seattle-based organization works to help empower refugee women through services including education and vocational training, domestic violence assistance, mental health care, legal services, and more.
- Services Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN). Folks in the San Francisco Bay Area can receive free legal consultations during their weekly walk-in hours, during their regular workshops, and at their mobile legal clinics. Young people ages 14-25 can also join their Youth Leadership Group to volunteer, participate in activities, and learn organizing skills.
- Student Immigrant Movement. This group connects students ages 13-30 in the movement for immigrant justice. They operate in Massachusetts, particularly at colleges in the Boston area.
- TheDream.US. The Dream works to help Dreamers afford college by providing scholarships and other support to immigrant students. Check out their resources page for more useful information.
- United We Dream. The nation’s largest youth-led immigrant community organization, United We Dream offers resources and programming for immigrants in the US. Their resource page includes tool kits and guides to help you navigate education, legal issues, and more, plus their site has information on their programming. Become a member to stay up to date with their latest projects.
- YMCA. Several YMCAs across the US have New American Welcome Centers that provide support and community space for immigrants and refugees. Many offer services including free English and job readiness classes, legal help, hotlines for referrals to other resources, and more. Check here to find your local YMCA then connect with them to learn about their immigrant programs.
Government resources for immigrants
The federal and state governments offer resources to help you with the naturalization process as well as providing some programming to help immigrants access education and employment. Here are some government resources that might be able to help you:
- California Immigrant Guide. The California government hosts this online resources that shows immigrants where to learn English, get jobs and training, take adult education classes, and get access to legal services.
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Although the current administration has made steps to dismantle this program, as it currently stands folks who have already participated in the DACA program are eligible to renew their applications. The program provides work permits and educational access to children who were born in the US to undocumented parents.
- Refugee Resettlement Program. Despite decisions of the current administration, the US does admit and settle refugees who have fled their home country out of fear of persecution based on religion, political affiliation, race, and more. You can check out the State Department’s page on refugee resettlement to learn more.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This site is your go-to government resource for learning about and filing immigration paperwork online. You can find your path to citizenship, apply for a green card, and much more through their online portal.
With these resources in hand, hopefully it will be a little easier for immigrants to seek out education and career services as well as community building opportunities to help navigate the choppy waters of immigrant life in the US. This list is certainly far from exhaustive, but it’s a great place to get started in your search for community and educational resources for US immigrants.
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