Community Leadership 


With their background and experiences, we believe that newcomers themselves can provide the strongest solutions to the challenges faced by their communities. We could not achieve our impact without our community leaders, who work in our programs as community/cultural liaisons. Some of our former community leadership participants are now on our staff.

Youth Leadership 

All of our after-school programs engage current students of our partner schools (peer tutors) and former students (alumni tutors). These youth leaders are selected based on nominations by Refugee & Immigrant Transitions staff, teachers, and peers. They tutor and mentor more recently arrived students, provide interpretation, and act as role models.

Through participation in our program, youth leaders gain valuable hard and soft job skills (including mentoring and leadership); receive ongoing training and support; participate in team-building activities; and earn stipends. They gain confidence to “dream bigger” and achieve major life goals such as college. Close to 100% of our youth leaders enroll in college after graduating high school. They are often the first in their family to do so.

I worked in the RIT after-school program at Oakland International High School. This helped me learn a lot of things. I learned how to be more patient, more understanding. The most important thing is I learned how to be a leader.
— Sa Sa, Former RIT Student & Youth Leader

Community Navigator/Assistant Opportunities for Adults

RT recruits, trains, and pays adult interns who assist newly arrived community members from their shared home countries. They act as interpreters and cultural liaisons, building their skills and gaining job experience while helping their community.

In our Women's Initiative, a program for newcomer women with small children, we engage female community leaders as classroom or childcare assistants They provide multilingual and multicultural support to the mothers who attend the English class, and look after the tots in the early childhood development program. This is most often the first job that a student has held in the U.S., and often the first job she had held ever. We consider it an important first step towards self-sufficiency and the workforce.

Becoming a helper in the classroom was so helpful for me, and I was so excited because I could take my sons with me, learn, have a job, and help other Afghan women.
— M., Former RIT Classroom Assistant