IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
235 Nicoll Street
2nd Floor
New Haven CT 06511
Contact Information
Address 235 Nicoll Street
2nd Floor
New Haven, CT 06511-
Telephone (203) 562-2095 x
Fax 203-562-1798
E-mail info@irisct.org
Web and Social Media
Mission
     The mission of IRIS is to enable refugees and other displaced people to establish new lives, regain hope, and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut’s communities. Refugees are men, women and children who fled their countries of origin due to persecution on the basis of their race, nationality, religious belief, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
      According to international law, refugees are those who have a "well-founded fear of persecution" and are unable to return to their countries without risking violence to themselves and their families, including torture and death. They are granted special immigration status according to international law. Each year the US government invites a small number of them- 85,000 in FY16- to start new lives, or "resettle," in this country. The front-line work of resettlement is done by local agencies like IRIS. IRIS works intensively with refugees, particularly during the first year of their resettlement, to help them build lives of their own choosing in the US. IRIS also serves the larger immigrant community through its food pantry.  Through outreach, advocacy, and public events, IRIS educates the community about the refugee experience and issues of national and international importance that touch all of our lives.
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 1982
Former Names
IRM- Interfaith Refugee Ministry
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Chris George
Board Chair The Reverend Peter Bushnell
Board Chair Company Affiliation Episcopal Church in Connecticut
Financial Summary
 
Projected Revenue $2,724,691.00
Projected Expenses $2,677,954.00
Statements
Mission
     The mission of IRIS is to enable refugees and other displaced people to establish new lives, regain hope, and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut’s communities. Refugees are men, women and children who fled their countries of origin due to persecution on the basis of their race, nationality, religious belief, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
      According to international law, refugees are those who have a "well-founded fear of persecution" and are unable to return to their countries without risking violence to themselves and their families, including torture and death. They are granted special immigration status according to international law. Each year the US government invites a small number of them- 85,000 in FY16- to start new lives, or "resettle," in this country. The front-line work of resettlement is done by local agencies like IRIS. IRIS works intensively with refugees, particularly during the first year of their resettlement, to help them build lives of their own choosing in the US. IRIS also serves the larger immigrant community through its food pantry.  Through outreach, advocacy, and public events, IRIS educates the community about the refugee experience and issues of national and international importance that touch all of our lives.
Background

In 1982, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut decided to begin welcoming refugees, reflecting the longstanding history of faith communities worldwide providing safe havens for refugees. Through the Episcopal Social Services, it created the organization that is known today as IRIS- Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, which welcomed its first refugee family in December 1982.

IRIS is a non-sectarian, federally recognized refugee resettlement agency affiliated with two national organizations that work directly with the US Department of State and Office of Refugee Resettlement at the US Department of Health and Human Services to welcome and serve refugee admissions: Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries. Since 1982, IRIS has resettled more than 6,000 refugee women, men and children.

In 2014, recognizing IRIS's desire for independence and self-governance, IRIS and The Episcopal Church in Connecticut agreed that going forward IRIS's purpose will best be served as an organization fully independent from, but in a continued relationship with, The Episcopal Church in Connecticut. In early 2015, IRIS started the process to become an independent 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

Each year, the US government admits approximately 85,000 refugees.  In 2015, IRIS welcomed 240 of them.  In 2016, that number more than doubled, to 530.  IRIS's current clients come from several countries including Syria, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Sudan. They range in age from a few months to over 70 years. According to federal law, refugees coming to the US must be placed with a local agency like IRIS.  Upon arrival, refugees face the daunting tasks of adjusting to this country, enrolling their children in school, learning English, taking care of their health needs, and finding jobs. IRIS collaborates closely with refugees throughout their resettlement process, at least until they reach financial self-sufficiency and sometimes longer.

Initially, IRIS meets the basic needs of refugees, including furnished housing, food, clothing, medicine, and other essentials. IRIS provides intensive, culturally competent case management; English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instruction for adults, with an on-site Early Learning Program for toddlers; educational and youth services; health care coordination; employment services; immigration legal services; and a weekly food pantry for refugees and other immigrants.

Impact

Growth Strategy through Community Co-Sponsorship

In 2016 IRIS was able to respond to the world's humanitarian crisis by more than doubling the number of refugees it resettled in one year -- from 230 in 2015 to 530 in 2016.   This was accomplished by dramatically increasing its capacity to manage "community co-sponsorship groups" -- groups of volunteers who assume all responsibility to resettle refugee families in communities throughout Connecticut.  
 
Stronger Case Management

In order to improve our services to refugees and keep up with the increasing number of new arrivals, IRIS has strengthened its Case Management department.  There are now 3 licensed clinical social workers on staff, who are able to provide refugees with specialized assistance.  We also expanded our cultural orientation program and recruited volunteers called Cultural Companions, who work with clients over a longer period of time helping them adjust to their new communities.

Refugees are becoming employed sooner

IRIS has two key strategies to improve refugee employment: 1) Begin employment preparation very soon after a refugee’s arrival. 2) Place a greater emphasis on outreach– finding and cultivating appropriate employment opportunities. The result: the percentage of refugees becoming employed within their first six months in the US—which had previously fluctuated between 25% and 60%—rose to 70% from October 2013 to October 2014.

Increased Public Awareness

Wide-scale press coverage of the refugee crisis brought about an unprecedented level of support for and interest in IRIS. Throughout 2016, IRIS and its clients were the subject of media attention from local, national and international press.  IRIS management worked diligently to meet the increased requests. Through a wide range of events IRIS directly reached at least 10,000 people.   In early 2017 IRIS hired a Director of Community Engagement to position the organization to respond to the outpouring of support.  

Goals

  • Renovate the current office or move into a larger, more efficient, and accessible office space.
  • 85%  of employable refugees will be working full time within six months of their arrival.
  • Educate the public about the refugee experience and resettlement.  Increase amount and diversity of private funding.
  • Strengthen governance and complete the process of becoming independent organization.
Needs
  • Fundraise. In order to maintain high standards and program breadth, respond to increasing client needs, and rebuild its financial reserves, IRIS needs to strengthen its fundraising capacity and continue to attract new supporters in the community.
  • Improve support for staff. Refugee resettlement is stressful work and it never ends. Demands on staff are compounded by increasing numbers of refugees and limited resources. It is easy for staff to burn out. IRIS needs to promote staff wellness, set limits on the work, and improve organizational policies and procedures.
  • Complete transition to become an independent organization. In 1982 IRIS was created by the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. In 2014 IRIS and the Episcopal Church in Connecticut agreed that going forward IRIS's purpose will best be served as an organization fully independent from, but in a continued relationship with, The Episcopal Church in Connecticut. In early 2015 IRIS filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Connecticut, and will soon apply to the IRS to become an independent 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
  • Develop the Board. Additional new members—with interest and skill in fundraising—need to be recruited.
CEO Statement

A refugee from Iraq who arrived in New Haven years ago was asked, “Of all the things you needed when you arrived in the US—housing, employment, education, food, healthcare—what did you need the most?”

His answer: “Respect.”

In the twelve years I have been the director of IRIS, I have worked with over 1,700 refugees. The nationalities have changed, programs have grown, services improved, staff have come and gone, the challenges and frustrations and joys raise and lower our spirits, and we never have enough money to do what we need to do. But, through it all, we have treated refugees – our newest Americans – with respect.

Welcoming persecuted people to the United States and helping them start new lives is our nation's oldest and most noble tradition. The basic goal of refugee resettlement is to save lives. The bonus, for Americans, is that refugees enrich our lives. Refugees bring remarkable skills and experiences. They help to internationalize our perspective on the world, and they strengthen our economy.

Visit the IRIS office and you’ll meet these new Americans and get a feel for the international and respectful environment we’ve created. My colleagues are incredibly dedicated, and despite the pressures and stress, they are always professional and polite. Everyone is culturally sensitive. You will hear several different languages spoken and see a colorful array of clothing. After you’re offered coffee or tea you might hear me deliver a pep talk to refugees. “If you want Americans to respect you,” I have said more than 100 times, “You need to work hard.”

Greater New Haven is a welcoming community, partly because it respects diversity and appreciates hard work. But the cost of living is high and jobs for refugees with limited English are scarce.

In order to successfully resettle refugees in Connecticut, IRIS needs to reach out to the general public, raise private funds, and attract a wide range of support from volunteers and organizations. But, as I explain to our refugee clients, “I cannot stand up in front of a group – whether it’s a Rotary Club or a house of worship – and ask people to help you, unless you are helping yourself.”

Refugee resettlement is a tough self-help program that demands a lot from the refugees, people who have already been through a lot just to get here. Starting a new life in a new country will always be a struggle, but with broad support from the Greater New Haven community, IRIS can provide high quality services and treat refugees with the respect they deserve.

Board Chair Statement

The most important recent initiative involving the Board of Directors has been the ongoing work to make IRIS its own nonprofit organization, independent from its parent organization, Episcopal Social Services, a part of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. Independence has been a strategic vision for several years, and it comes as a culmination of a ten-year process that has moved IRIS toward greater inclusiveness and a stronger presence in the community. Board members have taken the lead in writing new bylaws and defining the terms of the ongoing relationship between IRIS and the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

Over the past six years, the Board has diversified its membership.

The work of IRIS continues to be a source of pride, satisfaction, and excitement for me on a personal level. For over three decades, I and congregations served by me have participated in the work of welcoming and helping to resettle refugees in Connecticut. Many years ago, my current parish sponsored a family of five persons from Kosovo through IRIS. As we came to know about them and their extended family back home, we realized that they had left a family business and network of support behind in coming to the United States. They were glad to be here, but missed everyone and everything they had left behind. Despite a good start in Connecticut, and employment that was able to sustain them, when the opportunity arose, they opted to return home. They were sad to leave us, and we missed them greatly.

Several years later, we were surprised and overjoyed to discover that this family decided, when their children were old enough to pursue higher education, to move back to Connecticut as immigrants. It was a result of their experiences as refugees that them that they were persuaded to return to the United States in the best interests of their children, and the opportunities they would find here.

I continue to experience refugees as wonderfully adaptive people with strong survivor mentalities. They are some of the most ambitious and hard-working people I have ever known. Refugee resettlement always is one of the most satisfying causes I can imagine investing in, and I am proud of and humbled by the amazing commitment of our staff, volunteers, Board members, and donors.

Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Human Services / Ethnic/Immigrant Services
Secondary Organization Category Public & Societal Benefit /
Areas Served
New Haven
West Haven
East Haven
The IRIS office is in the East Rock neighborhood of New Haven, and many refugees are resettled there, as well as in other neighborhoods, including the Hill, Edgewood, and Fair Haven.  Some refugees are also resettled in West Haven, East Haven, and Hamden. Through our Community Co-Sponsorship program, which enables community groups to resettlement refugees in their communities with training by and under the guidance of IRIS, refugees have also been resettled in other CT towns, such as Middletown, Ridgefield, Wilton, Bethel, Branford, Bloomfield, and Stamford.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments
Programs
Description Case management lies at the heart of IRIS's programs.  Every refugee family is assigned a case manager to coordinate basic needs-- including housing, food, clothing, and public benefits-- and help the family craft plans for its future.  Case managers are the first point of contact for every refugee and play an important role in easing refugees' transition into US culture and society.  IRIS has nine full-time and three part-time staff members in case management. The case management budget includes $602,220 in direct assistance to refugees--such as housing expenses (security deposits, rent, utilities, furniture and housing supplies), food, clothing, medicine, and bus passes--which are provided to refugees during their first few months in the US, or in case of emergency.
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees / At-Risk Populations / Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. IRIS's overall goal is for refugees to become self-sufficient, contributing members of their new communities.  This means that clients should be able to support themselves financially, handle day-to-day tasks in the US with confidence, and make decisions on behalf of themselves and their family based on their needs and abilities. To empower them to reach self-sufficiency, the Case Management department seeks to give them the information, tools, and support they need to succeed.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. IRIS participates in a global humanitarian effort to save lives. This is the agency's core work and, in a certain sense, is an end in itself. When refugees successfully start new lives here, they become active, contributing members of our society, helping to diversify the community and strengthening the workforce. Volunteers who help to resettle refugees, including faith communities and others who act as "co-sponsors" of refugee families, engage in acts of hospitality, small and large, that transform their lives and perspectives.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
IRIS measures success by evaluating the overall well-being of individual refugees and family units on many different levels.  Three months after every adult refugee arrives in New Haven, a case manager conducts an 11-question assessment with them to gauge their knowledge of their community and how well they have begun to integrate.  The questions are all practical, such as “What is your address and phone number?” and “How do you get from your home to the grocery store? ” IRIS's goal is for 90% of refugees to answer at least 7 of the 11 questions correctly.
 
Iris's national affiliates (Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries) and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the US State Department regularly visit Iris to conduct site visits, review client case files, and interview clients and staff.  Iris adheres to all resettlement requirements and guidelines, and often exceeds federal standards.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Rosa (name changed) came to the US from Cuba in 2006, to escape oppression and imprisonment for her dissenting political opinions. Jorge arrived from Cuba in 2007, having suffered similar harsh treatment. IRIS worked closely with each of them to help them integrate into a culture and economic system that was new to them. Rosa started out making a living by cleaning rooms in a hotel, and Jorge was able to get job in construction. Through their connection with IRIS and the Cuban refugee community in New Haven, they met each other and soon decided to marry. With Jorge’s support, Rosa was able to leave her job at the hotel and go through a rigorous screening and training process in order to become a foster parent with the State of CT Dept. of Children and Families. She and Jorge fulfilled all of DCF’s requirements, and to date they have fostered dozens of Spanish-speaking children who were at crisis moments in their lives. The support that IRIS gave Rosa and Jorge in their first months in the US is being repaid many times over in their service to the most vulnerable of their new neighbors.
Description Finding work is a major factor in refugees' successful resettlement in the US.  Adult refugees are legally authorized to work immediately upon arrival.  IRIS’s Employment Services are designed to foster economic self-sufficiency soon after refugees arrive.  The employment team works one-on-one with every employable refugee to help them find and keep jobs.  Many refugees, including highly qualified professionals, accept entry-level positions as a first step toward building a new life for themselves and their families.  The Employment Services team also helps refugees formulate long-term goals, such as training or re-certification in their chosen fields.  During FY16, 64% of IRIS's clients who were seeking employment found their first job within 4 months of arrival, and 93% were working by 6 months of arrival. Employment Services is staffed by two full-time and two part-time employees, plus several volunteers and interns.
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees / International / Adults
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. All employable adults have an employment assessment and resume completed within two weeks of arrival. They all receive tailored job leads, help completing applications, and assistance setting up interviews, to help achieve these goals: 85% of employable adult refugees will have full-time jobs within 6 months of arrival. 50% of jobs obtained will pay above minimum wage.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. With stable employment, refugees have financial stability, which helps everyone in a family. Refugees build productive, healthy lives of their own choosing and contribute to the vitality of our city, state, and nation.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. To measure success, the employment team tracks applications submitted, interviews granted, offers received, and employment gained. Employers and clients are interviewed to gather feedback on the quality of IRIS services. Case managers track data pertaining to client financial self-sufficiency. When clients are gainfully employed, they no longer need rental assistance from the agency, an important measure of self-sufficiency.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Maryam came to the US from Iraq with some of the greatest challenges any refugee can face. She is a single mother with four children, and did not speak a word of English when she arrived. Over the course of a few months she made great progress. Her English skills improved, she relied less and less on her children for translation, and she gained confidence. Maryam was eager for any job but had the additional hurdle of needing to be at home in the afternoon to care for her youngest children. She persevered and was able to obtain a first-shift position in a physically demanding local manufacturing job. She demonstrated the pride of someone who was impressed with her own abilities. Unfortunately, she was laid off after only two months, but IRIS was able to help her find a second, better paying, factory position. If IRIS's contacts in the business community--and donor support-- had not been available to help Maryam with her employment search and housing costs, she wouldn't be where she is now: a single mother with immense obstacles who’s succeeding in spite of them.
Description
Refugees come to the US with a variety of physical and mental health care needs. The IRIS Health and Wellness Program supports refugees of all ages in obtaining high-quality medical care. The program's chief partner is Yale-New Haven Hospital, which provides health assessments and follow-up care at the Adult and Pediatric Refugee Health Clinics. These clinics are staffed by Yale Medical School residents under the supervision of an attending physician. IRIS's Health and Wellness Program Coordinator provides extensive care coordination including: serving as a liaison with medical providers, arranging interpreters, scheduling and accompanying clients to medical appointments, obtaining test results, teaching refugees how to utilize a pharmacy, and ensuring they understand the follow-up plans.  IRIS engages many volunteers in this effort, including as interpreters, advocates, and instructors who offer health literacy workshops at IRIS.
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees / Families / At-Risk Populations
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. 100% of refugee adults will receive their federally mandated health care assessment within 30 days of arrival in the US; 75% of refugee children will receive their federally mandated health care assessment within 30 days of arrival, and 100% within 45 days; 90% of refugees will establish a relationship with a primary care physician within the first six months after arrival; 100% of clients will receive a mental health screening at 30 days and 90 days after arrival.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. In the long term, the Health and Wellness Program helps refugees obtain good health and teaches them to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for themselves.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. IRIS tracks how quickly every refugee receives a health assessment, and whether they have received a mental health assessment.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
Local health care providers, who partner with IRIS to run the weekly and bi-monthly clinics attest to the success of the program.
 
"I believe that IRIS is the single most important contributor to refugee health in New Haven. Without IRIS's partnership and support, we would not have a Pediatric Refugee Clinic, we would be unable to engage in pre-arrival planning for refugee children with complex health problems, and we would have great difficulty connecting children with additional health services. IRIS provides important direct services for refugees. IRIS also enables other organizations, such as our clinic, to support and improve refugee health.” Katherine Yun, MD, Director, Yale-New Haven Hospital Pediatric Refugee Clinic.  
 
 
 
Description IRIS’s Education and Youth Services encompasses three programs: (1) Extensive academic support and enrichment activities for K-12 children and their parents; (2) English language classes for adult refugees; and (3) an Early Learning Program for refugees ages 1-4 whose parents are enrolled in IRIS's English class. Most adult refugees speak limited or no English and must improve their English before they will find jobs. Some children have never attended a school; others come from families in which education is highly valued. Upon arrival, few refugee children speak English and must adjust quickly to the social and intellectual demands of school in the US. The program trains parents to be active participants in the education of their children. Fortunately, children learn languages quickly and are adept at making friends. To see children succeed in school--and develop friendships with peers from all over the world--is one of the most rewarding aspects of work at IRIS.
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees / Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / At-Risk Populations
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. 100% of students enrolled in the program improve their level of English language proficiency. Refugee students in after-school programming demonstrate a 10% academic improvement (one grade level) from one year to the next. 90% of students enrolled in the program will demonstrate growth towards proficiency on curriculum assessment. 90% of students enrolled in the program improve their attendance rates over a two-year period. 100% of students enrolled in the program improve their social adjustment.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. Many refugees tell IRIS that they came to the US. for their children. The ultimate goal of IRIS's programs for refugee youth is to maximize the children's ability to succeed socially, emotionally, and academically. Refugee children and their parents understand the community, access support systems, and take advantage of educational opportunities.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. IRIS has developed relationships with area public schools that refugees attend. The Education Coordinator communicates daily with teachers, administrators, and New Haven Public Schools, and initially services as a liaison between parents and educators. The Education Coordinator observes overall student wellness, tracks parent participation in parent/teacher conferences, and, to the extent possible, keeps up-to-date on student attendance, grades, and test scores. In IRIS’s English class for adults, the teachers track attendance, and New Haven Adult Education conducts regular written and oral assessments of their progress.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Nadia is a refugee from Congo, who arrived in New Haven when she was 16. IRIS provided in-school and after-school tutoring for Nadia, and also provided parent orientation to her mother. Nadia’s English improved dramatically, and she excelled academically at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, even while balancing her academics with extracurricular activities and a part-time job. Her academic performance earned her admission to the Outstanding High School Senior Program - a highly competitive program awarded to candidates in the top 10% of their class and which allowed her to leave high school and attend 4-5 college classes during the spring semester of her senior year. Nadia is now a student at Quinnipiac University. When her busy schedule allows, Nadia is eager to help newly arrived refugees in any way she can. Currently, she works at IRIS through Quinnipiac’s work-study program, and prepares apartments for new refugees!
Description
Refugees who arrive in Connecticut are relieved to escape persecution and hopeful as they rebuild their lives. But for some, resettlement also brings sadness, because they have left their loved ones behind. For them, nothing is more important than being reunited.
     
Refugees also need legal help to become permanent residents and—five years after their arrival—to become US citizens.
 
Family reunification, and applying for permanent residency and citizenship, requires professional legal assistance, which can be prohibitively expensive, poor quality, or worse—fraudulent.  In order to address the severe shortage of affordable and high-quality immigration attorneys, IRIS provides Immigration Legal Services.
 
An attorney directs the program and supervises a legal assistant, volunteer attorneys, and student interns. The program represents over 400 cases each year, and conducts workshops to teach refugees about US laws and their overall rights and responsibilities as a resident in the US.
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees / At-Risk Populations / International
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.

IRIS expects that in 2017, at least 250 refugees new to the country will receive an orientation about legal rights and responsibilities in the US. As they learn about their own rights as refugees and residents in this country, their fears about the Executive Orders and immigration reform will be calmed, which will contribute to stronger emotional wellness.

IRIS’s expects that in 2017, by providing high-quality, culturally-sensitive, and low-cost immigration legal services to its refugee clients, at least: 

  • 10 refugees will reunite with their family members
  • 100 refugees will receive their green cards in 2017
  • 15 refugees will become US citizens.  
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
When refugees successfully reunite with family members after long periods of separation; learn how to navigate the legal system; and gain legal permanent residency status and ultimately US citizenship, they are more fully able to become stable, civically engaged, contributing members of their community.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. The IRIS Immigration Legal Services Director keeps standardized case files on all clients and tracks the progress of their cases in a customized spreadsheet. Data measures include approval by US Citizenship and Immigration Services of lawful permanent resident (green card) applications, naturalization applications, and family reunification petitions.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
“I just want to thank you again for your effort and support. It was a lovely day Friday, and we had a lot of fun. It's great that you see the country you believe in, love, and sacrifice to be part of is loving you back and welcomes you as part of its big family!”
- A note to the Immigration Legal Services Director after a client became a US Citizen in June 2014
 
“By your effort and the help of God now I am with my family. …You see a person who was at times in a situation of dreaming for his loving spouse and kids to be together; now [this is] the fact. How that situation was hard! Now it is history and I will never forget what you, IRIS, and the US Government did to me for this history cannot be disappeared from memory.”
- Email to Attorney O’Brien from a refugee who was reunited with his wife and children September 2014
Program Comments
CEO Comments Every day, we ask ourselves and our clients: what do refugees--new Americans--need in order to start new lives in this country? Our programs, and the way we operate them are a result of that question. We are not content to provide only the bare minimum that is required by the federal guidelines under which we work. We strive to create a welcoming, tolerant, and respectful environment for refugees and design programs to meet their unique needs. Over the years, we have learned from our clients that housing, education, health care, and legal services require extra attention during the process of adjusting to a new country. These programs cost more and require more community support, so we have had to raise more funds, develop a strong volunteer program, and form partnerships.
CEO/Executive Director
Mr. Chris George
Term Start May 2005
Email cgeorge@irisct.org
Experience Chris George has worked in international development, human rights, and refugee assistance for more than 30 years. He began his international experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer and served more than 20 years in the Middle East managing programs for Save the Children, American Friends Service Committee, Human Rights Watch, and USAID.  He has worked extensively with refugee populations, directed a legislative strengthening project in the Palestinian territories, and was Executive Director of Human Rights Watch - Middle East.  Since 2005 he has served as the Executive Director of IRIS. 
Co-CEO
Experience
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 19
Number of Part Time Staff 27
Number of Volunteers 300
Number of Contract Staff 1
Staff Retention Rate 93%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander 3
Caucasian 34
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 6 (Middle Eastern)
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 14
Female 33
Unspecified 0
Senior Staff
Title Director of Employment and Education
Title Director of Case Management
Experience/Biography

Alexine previously held senior management positions at a childcare-focused international NGO in Morocco, for 7 years.

Title Director of Community Engagement
Experience/Biography Ann O’Brien has experience in non-profit operations and financial management, as well as grassroots organizing and fundraising. Ann has worked with immigrant populations in Missouri, Illinois, New York and Connecticut. She currently co-chairs a refugee resettlement initiative in Ridgefield, Connecticut and is the Director of Community Engagement at IRIS .
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Collaborations

IRIS is fortunate to have many strong partners:

  • Many faith communities provide financial donations, in-kind assistance, or "co-sponsor" a refugee family, which involves sharing the core resettlement work with IRIS and providing financial support to a newly-arriving family.
  • Connecticut Food Bank
  • New Haven Diaper Bank
  • New Haven Public Schools, especially the administration of Fair Haven K-8 School and Wilbur Cross High School, where the highest number of refugee students attend. Fair Haven School hosts IRIS’s afterschool program
  • New Haven Adult Education offers daily English class at IRIS
  • Yale-New Haven Hospital Primary Care Center has specialized Refugee Health Clinics.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Center and CT Mental Health Center advise IRIS staff and assist refugees
  • City government officials, police officers, and firefighters present educational workshops to refugees
  • To help refugees find work, IRIS collaborates with New Haven Works, CT Works, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce,  and certification programs 
  • AAA in Hamden offers the required 8-hour safe driving class at a reduced cost and with language interpretation
  • Volunteers and interns come from Yale University, SCSU, University of New Haven, Quinnipiac University, Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, & Gateway Community College
Affiliations
AffiliationYear
United Way of Greater New Haven2010
Connecticut Association of Nonprofits2010
Comments
CEO Comments IRIS is currently in the process of launching a strategic planning initiative.  In 2005, IRIS had a $500,000 budget, staff of 10, and welcomed about 150 refugees.  After a 2005 strategic plan, IRIS diversified revenue sources and raised the organization's profile through outreach.  Today, IRIS is known throughout the state and beyond.  Its budget is over $2 million.  And with a staff of 50, IRIS welcomed 530 refugees in 2016.  IRIS' dramatic growth and the new threats it faces, make a new strategic planning process essential.  This new strategic planning process is targeted to be completed by September, 2017 and will address issues such as: (1) growing pains from rapid growth in recent years; (2) opportunities for leadership roles in Connecticut and on the national level; and (3) responding effectively to dramatic changes in the national refugee program, diversifying for long-term stability and leveraging an overwhelming show of support from the Connecticut and broader community. 
Board Chair
The Reverend Peter Bushnell
Company Affiliation Episcopal Church in Connecticut
Term Jan 2017 to Jan 2018
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Jasmina Besirevic-Regan Lecturer, Departments of Sociology, Global Affairs, Ethnicity, Race and Migration, Yale University
Andrew Cohen Attorney, The Law Office of Andrew A. Cohen, LLC
Christina Colón Williams Law Clerk, The Honorable Victor Bolden, U.S. District Court
Anthony DiSalvo Ph.D.Chairman, Regional Water Authority
Asma Farid Vice President, Netsolace
Scott Harding PhDAssociate Dean for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor, University of Connecticut School of Social Work
Dr. David Hesse Member, Department of Urology, Yale School of Medicine
Kaveh Khoshnood Ph.D.Associate Professor, Yale School of Public Health
Rosalie Mutonji Community Volunteer
Christine Ngaruiya M.D., MSc, DTM&HSection of Global Health and International Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University
Andrew Ruben Yale Law Student & Co-founder, Blue State Coffee
Bishop Andrew Smith Retired, Former Bishop Episcopal Diocese of CT
Randy Teel Ph.DExecutive Director, Corporate Strategy & Risk Management, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Kiran Zaman Program Developer (Artist, Educator), Eli Whitney Museum
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 4
Caucasian 8
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 6
Unspecified 2
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 33%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Finance
Nominating
Board Governance
CEO Comments
Prior to 2005, most board members were from the Hartford area -- a reflection of the organization's roots in the Episcopal Diocese.  Over the past several years, IRIS has expanded the board to include members from Greater New Haven.  In 2016, 4 new members joined the board.  Today, almost all board members are from the New Haven area.
 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31 2017
Projected Revenue $2,724,691.00
Projected Expenses $2,677,954.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
Other Documents
Other Documents 3
NameYear
Employment Mentor Fact Sheet2013View
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$786,331$553,274$544,246
Government Contributions$993,419$802,065$761,107
Federal------
State$452,106$269,648--
Local------
Unspecified$541,313$532,417$761,107
Individual Contributions------
------
------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$296$252$69
Membership Dues------
Special Events$23,929----
Revenue In-Kind------
Other$2,653$22,088$19,819
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$1,262,317$1,134,491$1,007,166
Administration Expense$159,764$94,126$89,476
Fundraising Expense$80,391$59,126$72,271
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.201.071.13
Program Expense/Total Expenses84%88%86%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue4%4%6%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$699,751$388,985$345,247
Current Assets$680,653$360,037$328,926
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities$62,789$56,179$102,377
Total Net Assets$636,962$332,806$242,870
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountDSS $346,751Episcopal Migration Ministries $296,008Church World Service $283,348
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountChurch World Services $262,818Church World Service $263,421Episcopal Migration Ministries $251,419
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountEpiscopal Migration Ministries $259,225DSS $168,850State Dept. of Social Services $214,591
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities10.846.413.21
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign PurposeHelpCapital Campaigns are defined as a fundraising efforts over-and-above an organization's annual operating budget. Campaigns might include the purchase of land or a building, major renovations, and major equipment purchases. Endowment campaigns may also be included if the funds are legally restricted. IRIS needs to move to new office space or dramatically renovate its current space, to better serve its growing client base. A capital campaign would help with interior renovations.
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
Comments
CEO Comments
Foundation Staff Comments

This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.

Address 235 Nicoll Street
2nd Floor
New Haven, CT 06511
Primary Phone 203 562-2095
Contact Email info@irisct.org
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Chris George
Board Chair The Reverend Peter Bushnell
Board Chair Company Affiliation Episcopal Church in Connecticut

 

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