Student Newsroom

$250,000 grant to help asylum seekers in Champaign County will be shared by three non-profits


A mural by Langston Allston is painted on the Cunningham Township building in Urbana. Cunningham Township is one of the non-profit organizations receiving a federal grant to help asylum seekers. The group provides rental assistance and food support. Stephanie Mosqueda / Illinois Student Newsroom

Several non-profit organizations in the Champaign-Urbana area will receive a $250,000 grant to expand their services to asylum seekers. 

The federal funding, distributed by the Illinois Department of Human Services, will be given to the New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA, the Refugee Center and Cunningham Township. According to a press release from the city of Champaign, the grant will provide services for an estimated 100 children and 200 adults. 

“Asylum seekers are commonly forced to flee their countries with little support and resources when they arrive in the United States,” Janel Gomez, community relations manager and compliance officer for the city of Champaign, said in the press release. “The grant funds will be used to help support those individuals and families who immigrated to Champaign County in search of a better life.”

Gomez said the city was first notified about the funding in late August, and representatives from the three organizations and the cities of Urbana and Champaign met to discuss the application process. The application was later submitted in mid-September.

Gomez said the groups decided to apply for the grant in the hopes of increasing Champaign County’s efforts to provide services to new immigrants.

“We already have a five-year plan for welcoming immigrants — it is called the Champaign County Welcoming Plan,” Gomez said. “When this opportunity came through, we realized that it could be useful” to help support that plan.

The amount of money awarded was determined based on the services the organizations provide and the number of people they serve, Gomez said. 

The grant money will be given directly to the nonprofits to expand and fund their services. Individuals won't be able to apply for this money themselves.

“If migrants come to Champaign County and they qualify, they can then go to any of the agencies to receive assistance like housing, wraparound services and legal services,” she said.

Every month, the organizations will submit reports to Gomez with the details of the different services provided. She said this will make it easier to keep track of trends and see if they are on target. 

Organizations will get the grant money as a reimbursement. They'll receive funds after they report their spending on services for migrants. The first report and pay request is due this week.