The San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition is a collective of ethnic-based community organizations (ECBOs) located within San Diego County. Our 12 member organizations have been providing essential services to refugee families for years. SDRCC was formally established in September 2019 following a yearlong planning process funded by The California Endowment. This process surfaced a clear need for improved outcomes and reduced disparities across multiple health and socio-economic indicators, and for a coordinated approach among ECBOs towards achieving these outcomes.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, coalition programming was focused on providing educational outreach and distributing essential resources to community members. Since then, our organizations have worked together on projects regarding housing, behavioral health, economic development, youth development. We have also provided educational outreach and distributed essential resources to families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years.
A Unique Opportunity to Center Cooperation Over Competition.
The formation of the San Diego Refugee Communities Coalition (SDRCC) has provided a unique opportunity to center cooperation over competition in the non-profit space. Our organizations are not competing for limited funds, but instead working collaboratively to optimize the funding and resources available to them. We have been able to provide training and education on budgeting, sustainability, properly compensating labor, and program development with the UC San Diego Center for Community Health Refugee Health Unit serving as the backbone organization facilitating the work of the coalition.
The SDRCC model embraces the different methods, languages, and cultural norms of each community represented by our coalition ECBOs. Most of our coalition members have at least two front line staff employed with them who work directly with their community members. Peer-based staff are an essential part of the way our model works. They are familiar with their respective communities because they come from the communities they represent. This makes them well poised to do effective outreach and provide services in the primary languages of the communities.
We have found that when receiving sensitive or urgent information, community members are more comfortable and open to hearing it and asking important questions when it is provided in their primary language. This is an essential aspect of our workforce: we operate in over 18 languages and can provide information in a culturally relevant way.
Another important aspect of our model is the two-way communication that we are able to have through the relationship of our front line staff with their communities. This provides a feedback loop that allows us to integrate the voices and concerns of our community members into our programming and share with funders. This is also one of the factors that tells us what to prioritize when we make decisions on future programs or funding opportunities.
Our members come from diverse backgrounds and cultures representing new immigrant communities of East African, Middle Eastern, Central and South Asian, and Haitian backgrounds. Member organizations as of December 2023 are: