FORA - Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America

FORA’s mission is to ensure that refugee families are provided access to an education sufficient to prepare them to become economically self-sufficient and robustly engaged in American civic life. 

Founded in 2018 in response to the international Rohingya crisis, we specialize in helping recently arrived refugee children who have previously been denied an education and are illiterate in their native languages to gain foundational education skills so that school becomes meaningful for them. 

We are based in the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago near the corner of California Ave. and W. Devon Ave., a neighborhood with thousands of recently arrived immigrants, refugees and asylees from, inter alia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bhutan, Syria, Afghanistan and Angola. Pre-pandemic, we served 30 formerly illiterate Rohingya, Afghani and Syrian children every day, providing each child with 520 hours per year of customized intensive instruction in reading and math with a 2-to-1 student-tutor ratio using professional teachers and paraprofessionals (and lowering the ratio even further with volunteers). When the pandemic hit, we took an additional 30 children, and we now serve 60 children with 2 hours a day of 1:1 online tutoring, for a total of 2,640 hours a month of tutoring. All tutors undergo legally mandated background checks and are monitored and mentored one hour every ten days. 

Even with the success of our online program, we are aware that our students benefit from being in-person at our center where they have emotional encouragement, professional/paraprofessional in-person tutoring, experts to advise when tutors experience problems, and a library of 1000+ books. So that students will have access to these resources, in July 2021 we will bring all sixty students back to our empowerment center for our new hybrid program, which will combine the best of what we have learned from remote operation with the demonstrated success of our pre-pandemic in-person HDT model, allowing the continuation of our commitment to the 30 additional students who needed our services during COVID.