Building Blocks for
New Americans Fund

What transforms a house into a home? It’s more than brick and mortar – a home is where education is a priority, life falls into a regular routine, and neighbors and friends visit regularly. These are the building blocks for a thriving home. For New American families, being resettled is not enough – it’s what happens afterwards that counts. That’s where the Building Blocks for New Americans Fund at the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) plays a critical role.

Becoming a New American

With ongoing conflicts in the Arab World, many are forced from their home countries with little to no personal possessions, seeking shelter from conflict and disaster. This is why the Building Blocks for New Americans (BBNA) Fund was launched at CAAP in December 2016 with an initial goal of raising $100,000 to support 25 Syrian refugee families in Metro Detroit with housing, transportation, and household needs. This initial campaign ultimately raised more than $300,000, aiding more than 50 New American families from predominately Syria, as well as Yemen and Iraq – now living in Metro Detroit and Houston, Texas. Today, many of these families are stable and are successfully adapting to their new lives.

Aref’s Story

Fleeing bombs and bullets, Dr. Aref Alkhouli and his family fled Aleppo, Syria. They arrived in 2016 to Dearborn, Michigan, seeking refuge. The family had lost their home, their job, and even their loved ones.  Dr. Alkhouli had worked as a veterinarian in Syria, but after months of settling, he had yet to find employment in Dearborn. The family turned to ACCESS. Both Dr. Alkhouli and his wife, Samia, enrolled in ACCESS’ job-training, budgeting, and credit-building programs. Samia even enrolled in English classes- she is at the highest levels now! But the family needed much more.

Through the Building Blocks for New Americans (BBNA) Fund, the family was assisted with basics- few months of rent, furniture, car insurance payments, household supplies, and clothing- to help them settle in their new home. This encouraged the family to stand on their feet- and they DID!

And the best part: we helped Dr. Alkhouli find a job he loves! He is now working at DIX Animal Hospital. What can we say, we couldn’t keep him away from his cats and dogs.

Current campaign: Building Blocks for a Thriving Home

We’ve provided the essentials, but more remains to be done. There are many more families who are in need of services, and families that received initial support through this fund now face new challenges. For example, when emergencies occur, such as serious illness, unexpected home repairs, or loss of work, many families have limited or no savings to make ends meet. We want to build on the work we’ve already done, and be there to help see them through – to provide the building blocks for a thriving home. Our goals for the next phase of BBNA include the following:

  • Provide support for rent, medical expenses and other unmet needs in case of emergencies for families living paycheck to paycheck
  • Empower women to enter the workforce and obtain reliable transportation
  • Provide personalized, private English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction for parents and children

Through this ongoing intervention, we are committed to making sure that we are building a stable future for our most vulnerable, and newest, citizens.

What can you do?

Our current campaign seeks to raise $80,000 to achieve these goals. Once we reach this level of support, we will unlock a $20,000 match from a group of generous donors…that’s a twenty-five percent match!  But we need your help to make that possible! If you make a gift today, 100% of your gift plus the 25% match will support refugee families in building safe, hopeful, and productive lives. Thank you for your generous support as we work to ensure that New American families thrive – at work, in school, and at home.

Download our flyer Give to the BBNA Fund