SVP to help Refugee Connect expand new health navigator program

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati has selected Refugee Connect for a multiyear community investment through Project XLR8, the organization’s new program to advance socially innovative ideas.

From left to right, Megan Iverson of Refugee Connect, Social Venture Partners Lynn Ryan, Roy Kulick and Christopher Chen and Refugee Connect executive director Kristin Burgoyne. Ryan, Kulick and Chen were Refugee Connect’s coaches through the Project XLR8 program.

In addition to providing up to $20,000 in funding each year for two to three years, dedicated teams from SVP — Greater Cincinnati’s home for engaged philanthropists — will help identify and solve the most pressing strategic and operational challenges in launching Refugee Connect’s health navigator program.

The health navigator will provide health care resources, support and coordinated services to refugee families through community based, culturally responsive and native language support. The program is expected to increase health insurance enrollment, the use of health services and the number of refugees receiving preventive vaccinations, as well as enable greater understanding of mental health resources.

“The health navigator program will play an important part in helping refugee families gain their footing and thrive in their new home,” said Chris Shroat, SVP board chair. “Our partners look forward to working with Refugee Connect to help make the program a success.”

Other contenders for the Project XLR8, launched last fall, were:

  • Rise Up News, which provides multimedia content, including connections to resources, so people incarcerated in local jails can reenter society effectively.
  • St. Francis Seraph Ministries, whose #Stitched# Training Program teaches basic sewing and job preparation skills to under-resourced women at the Sarah Center.
  • Transform Cincy, which provides free, curated clothing and accessories for transgender and gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ youth ages 5 to 25.

SVP Partners will remain engaged in the short-term with the contending nonprofits to further their socially innovative programs. The second version of Project XLR8 will begin later this summer.

Similar to how SVP will surround Refugee Connect with volunteer and expert help, Refugee Connect got its start from committed volunteers.

In 2011, the Junior League of Cincinnati conducted a community scan of unmet needs affecting women and children in Greater Cincinnati. The research found a lack of coordinated services for refugees. After two years of investigation, the Junior League of Cincinnati identified more than 40 community partners working to empower refugees and began sharing resources and responsibilities regarding the success, integration, and care of refugees. In 2013, Refugee Connect, an umbrella program to link the community, was born. In 2018, after five years of nonprofit incubation with the Junior League of Cincinnati, Refugee Connect launched as an independent, nonprofit organization.

Refugee Connect helps refugees — people forced to flee their country to escape persecution or war — navigate often unfamiliar systems, new cultural norms and language barriers. Refugee Connect promotes coordinated services so that this specific population of new Americans, who may be unaware of the patchwork of crucial resources already in place, reach their full potential as individuals, families and civic and community leaders.

SVP Cincinnati, celebrating its 15th year in existence this year, is the only local grant-making organization that pairs its funding with hands-on, in-depth coaching, training and guidance for nonprofits who want to help people reach their full potential. The organization’s purpose is to enable its investees to make Greater Cincinnati a stronger and more vibrant community.


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