Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

Since 1976, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) has empowered more than 100,000 refugees and legal immigrants to successfully integrate into American society. IRCO has been a national leader in promoting community cooperation, education and crime prevention efforts, and youth services.

IRCO leads the way in offering educational and crime prevention programs. It holds workshops on public safety, the legal system, and emergency services for newly arrived refugees. IRCO has also been instrumental in helping immigrants and refugees become engaged in the civic process through its innovative Civic Engagement Program. This is a four-month program in which community leaders agree to put aside their fears of government in order to be more informed and engaged citizens. It is through educational workshops such as these that IRCO is helping to develop community cooperation and change negative perceptions of government and law enforcement in the immigrant and refugee communities.

Additionally, IRCO has played a key role in the state of Oregon in developing programs for local youth, including mentoring, employment, and gang prevention services. IRCO’s goal is to increase graduation rates while lowering criminal activity, truancy, and substance abuse. For instance, a recent effort placed 228 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 in summer jobs within the city of Portland, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. The youth were at risk for or experiencing homelessness, criminal activity, exposure to gangs, teen pregnancy, foster care, runaway status, and/or mental or physical disabilities. In 2006, IRCO created a Youth Gang Prevention Program to address the growing gang problem and gang violence. Nearly 4,000 youth have benefited from these services.

Sokhom Tauch is the executive director of IRCO. In his 34 years of work with IRCO, he has helped to grow IRCO into an organization that serves more than 45 ethnicities with more than 60 different languages. Under Tauch’s leadership, IRCO continues to provide exemplary immigrant assistance programs to address Oregon’s growing refugee and immigrant populations.

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