PAIR commits to launch a College Counseling program for high school age refugee students of grades nine through twelve. The program will meet weekly at refugee apartment complexes where other PAIR programs already take place, fostering a more immersive involvement in the same community. Each session will focus on different aspects of the college preparation process, including post-secondary educational options, financial aid, scholarships, resumes, essay writing, and test preparation. Because certain ages will have varying needs, part of the semester will target underclassmen and focus on general exposure to college and its benefits, resumes, creating a four-year plan, and fostering an awareness of the informational resources available to students both at their school and elsewhere, especially online. The other portion of the semester will be devoted to juniors and graduating seniors, helping them prepare for college applications, essay writing, and financial aid. One section will be for all high school students and will be almost exclusively SAT test preparation. Each lesson module will be designed by PAIR officers and maintained each semester for future officers. PAIR volunteers will carry out the programs with the assistance of a few staff members. Each participant will be paired with a volunteer to receive more personal attention and guidance. Because the program targets not only upperclassmen but all high school students, students will be eligible to enroll each year. Thus, the program will be ongoing but PAIR's commitment focuses on the initiation phase, which will last over the next academic year.
A refugee is any person fleeing their home country due to a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, political opinion, religion, or nationality. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United States resettled 60,193 refugees in the year 2008. Texas received 5,130 of these refugees. Houston in particular forms a hub for immigrants and refugees from all over the world. Refugee resettlement in the United States is mediated by refugee resettlement agencies, which are funded in part by the government. These agencies in Houston generally provide major services for refugees including airport pickup, Medicaid, or other insurance application assistance, rent grants, and home visits. However, most of these services last only for four to six months, after which all refugee-related public funding terminates. This can be a very difficult transition for refugee families to make because they are expected to be fully responsible for their own income, rent, and health within half a year of arriving to the United States.
Although agencies offer informal after school programs for refugee teens, there are currently few to none systematic programs that target older teens for higher education opportunities. Most public high schools in Houston do not maintain any distinction for refugee students, so they are often left to navigate their own way through a complicated college preparation process in schools that are already underfunded and understaffed. Moreover, parents, being unfamiliar with the U.S. school system themselves and often occupied with employment, cannot provide the time and support necessary to the children to pursue educational opportunities.
This problem is worsened by the language barrier that exists for most refugee families, as they usually do not know ahead of time where they will be resettled. This is where PAIR is involved. PAIR is a nonprofit organization that uses the energy of university students to reach out to young refugee youth from all over the world and assist them with achieving their educational potential. PAIR aims to enroll refugee youth who have been in the United States for about four to six months, ensuring that at least one type of support is available for families after their resettlement aid services terminates. PAIR aims to address these challenges by establishing a weekly program at refugee apartment complexes to work with refugee high school students and familiarize them with the college process, tailoring sessions as necessary to suit the needs of participants.
Media/ Marketing Opportunities
This initiative will benefit from financial contributions to cover operational costs, as well as in-kind support such as community organizations to partner with, educational resources, test books, and so on.
Media/ Marketing Opportunities
As an organization based at Rice University, PAIR has significant access to resources at Rice which may be useful for community partners who wish to publicize their work.