The Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants: Financial Literacy Program by Brianna Gates (A'20)

by tuftsigl
Jun 21

Last semester, I attended the IGL Migration Series where I was introduced to Mary Troung, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI). The mission of ORI is to integrate refugees and immigrants into the fabric of the Commonwealth. Some of the services provided by the agency include citizenship education, workforce development and training, health programming, and other services. I spoke with Ms. Truong at the event and I was given the opportunity to intern this summer at the ORI in Boston, where I am working directly with the refugee resettlement coordinators office.

It has been a busy first two weeks. Within minutes of arriving on my first day, I was already ushered into my first task which was tabulating survey results from, and creating a report for, the ORI's Financial Literacy Program. The program is funded through a private donor, so my job was to form a report that was less bureaucratic and more engaging and interactive. The classes involve educating new arrivals to America on the U.S. banking system, credit, and other ways to manage money, all of which are things that even native born American citizens struggle with.

It is a new program and the pre- and post-class surveys I was reading were the very first in the system. I was able to see first-hand how participants' comfort level with these money systems changed. It felt great to know that I was working on important data reports that would help to structure future programs of the same caliber. The classes took place in various cities around Massachusetts, one set of classes taught in Spanish and another in Arabic to match up with the demographics of the migrants in each area. Recording the results from these evaluations was very time consuming but being able to read Spanish helped immensely when translating additional comments at the end.

I'm really looking forward to my future work at ORI, especially in regard to upcoming projects and reports that I will be creating as soon at the Financial Literacy Report is finalized. Everyone in the office is excited to teach me about their work, and I'm ready to learn more.