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RISE (Refugee & Immigrant Society of Entrepreneurs) was formed by the YMCA Literacy program in the 2017-2018 program year as a way for our refugee and immigrant students, many of whom were stay-at-home parents, to learn new skills and supplement their income.

RISE logo

The goal of RISE is to empower refugees and immigrants to learn marketable skills and eventually, develop their own business. Many of these participants came to North Carolina from Burma after spending several years of their lives living in refugee camps. Since RISE was first established, the group has met weekly to learn sewing, crafting, gardening, and marketing skills, all while improving their ability to communicate in English. They have earned money by selling their wares at craft fairs and to companies and organizations, doing contract sewing and packaging work for local artists, and growing and selling produce at local farmers’ markets and to restaurants. Many of the original members of RISE have been able to secure full-time employment and purchase their own homes.

RISE contains four components: crafting, gardening/farming, sewing, and catering  services. In addition to working on these projects, they have an opportunity to attend ESL classes up to four times per week in a YMCA Learning Center in their community.

For more information, contact Jean Frey, RISE Coordinator, at j.frey@ymcanwnc.org

 

RISE