Developing strong communities with the International Rescue Committee

Giving By Emily Larson June 20, 2019

On this World Refugee Day, and throughout the year, we stand in support of refugees. The average length of displacement for a refugee is nearly two decades; a “lost” generation is created as millions of children are unable to attend school, young people have limited career and economic opportunities and countless families work to survive day-by-day. Refugees bring immense talent and potential when we welcome them and they are given a chance at opportunity. U.S. government-commissioned research shows that refugees have generated $63 billion in net revenue over the past decade. Moreover, resettled refugees ages 18 to 45 pay on average $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over a 20-year period and are around 30% more likely to be entrepreneurs than the U.S.-born population. 


The Western Union Foundation works with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), to train refugees so they can integrate into their new country and have opportunity to earn income. The IRC works across the arc of crisis – from emergency response to resettlement and integration. They not only provide support by helping refugees meet their basic needs as they flee conflict and persecution, but also continue to help people survive, recover and reclaim control of their future. The ultimate goal is to provide refugees the opportunity and resources to build a better life for themselves and their families while strengthening their communities.


To positively impact the lives of refugees, the IRC takes a holistic approach to helping people with a variety of programs to address physical, emotional and economic well-being. In the United States, the IRC helps resettle refugees into their new communities through English language classes, cultural integration, and career and education services. Internationally, the IRC has a dedicated emergency team on the ground within 72-hours of a declared crisis, providing vital support in the form of food, water, healthcare, and other basic necessities to survive. Once a crisis has evolved into ongoing displacement or post-crisis rebuilding, the IRC provides holistic support from healthcare to education.

Education and well-being are key for refugees to reclaim their futures. Ensuring refugees have access to education, job training and skills development is critical to achieving self-sufficiency, giving individuals the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families. This translates to strong communities and more vibrant and dynamic marketplaces. The Foundation funded ‘Learn to Earn’ program, helps refugees gain business skills to be economically independent. When refugees are given the opportunity and resources to succeed, we all benefit.

Investing in refugees means investing in the next generation of business leaders, innovators, educators, and entrepreneurs. When refugees have the opportunity to earn income, they open businesses, create jobs, and strengthen their local communities. Financial stability for refugees is a win for all.

As we do at the Western Union Foundation, use your voice to advocate for refugees. Educate your friends, family, and members of the community on who refugees are. Learn more at