New Americans Integration Institute

immigrant integration wordsThe New Americans Integration Institute operates at the center of a diverse network of state, local and national organizations seeking to expand integration opportunities for immigrants and refugees in Massachusetts. Launched in 2011 with a grant from The Boston Foundation, the Institute  provides both policy research and program engagement, and state-level administrative advocacy. To support its mission, the Institute has an Advisory Board that includes representatives of state and local government, nonprofits, academia and philanthropy.

The Institute builds coalitions and develops programs to support the three components of immigrant and refugee integration. The Institute Director also plays a central role in fostering a cohesive strategy among MIRA’s advocacy, organizing and communications teams.

New Americans Integration Institute key focus areas
NAII focus areas

Economic integration initiatives

Workforce development is a key aspect of the Institute’s economic integration work. We support foreign-born workers at all skill levels, helping them obtain professional credentials and licenses; advance their skills through education and English language instruction; and obtain U.S. citizenship. The Institute is currently supporting legislation to create a commission to explore creating a credential process for foreign-trained health professionals who could provide urgently needed medical services in underserved communities throughout Massachusetts.

Civic integration initiatives

Since 2013, more than 1,400 Massachusetts residents have become U.S. citizens as a result of MIRA’s application assistance programs. MIRA’s voter registration outreach created 10,000 newly registered immigrant voters prior to the 2016 elections. In addition, Get Out the Vote drive boosted turnout from New American voters by 10%, three times the typical increase from such efforts.

Social integration initiatives

We have built statewide coalitions of practitioners, stakeholders, and experts on K-12 education for immigrant children and the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Through this coalition, the Institute provides trainings to refugee resettlement agencies and childcare providers on improving access to childcare and early childhood education for refugee children. The Institute is also developing a strategy to monitor the impact of the state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan on children from immigrant and refugee families. Finally, hundreds of adult immigrants and refugees receive English language instruction every year through the New Americans Integration Program.

AmeriCorps integration programs

Two AmeriCorps initiatives also operate under the Institute umbrella, each with their own staffing:

New American Integration Program: In its seventh year, places up to 30 AmeriCorps members yearly in immigrant-serving organizations across Massachusetts to provide English language instruction, citizenship and job training services.

justice AmeriCorps Massachusetts: This program, in its third year, provides vital legal representation in Boston Immigration Court to more than 160 unaccompanied minors from Central America. Five justice AmeriCorps members are currently serving in legal services agencies across Massachusetts.

All these programs are part of a nationwide move to reshape thinking and action in communities and the country as a whole to value the foreign-born as one of our greatest assets. MIRA joins in this effort with fellow members of the National Partnership for New Americans (NAIP), which since 2008 has sponsored the National Immigrant Integration Conference. MIRA Executive Director Eva Millona serves as the NPNA co-chair. Now with 37 members in 31 states, NPNA has become a leading national voice for advancing immigrant rights and opportunities. Read the NPNA Immigrant Integration Principles, authored by the Institute.

NAII Advisory Board

The Institute’s work is supported by the experience, expertise and commitment of a distinguished Advisory Board that includes members from government, business, nonprofits and academia.

Name Affiliation

Christine T. Brenner

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs
McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts Boston

Damon Cox

Director of Economic Development and Entrepreneurship
The Boston Foundation

Emmanuel Franjul

Vice President
Frontier Capital Management Co., LLC

Hanna Gebretensae

Eliot-Pearson Children's School
Tufts University

Alvaro Lima

Director of Research
Boston Planning & Development Authority

Suzette Brooks Masters

Immigrant Integration Strategist

Margie McHugh

Director, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy
Migration Policy Institute

Denzil Mohammed

Director, Public Education Institute
Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.

Vinit Nijhawan

Managing Director, Technology Development Office
Lecturer, School of Management & Director of Enterprise Programs, ITEC
Boston University

Charles Smith

Senior Vice President - SBA Specialist
Eastern Bank

Alejandra St. Guillen

Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement

Paul Watanabe

Director, Institute for Asian American Studies
Associate Professor, Political Science
University of Massachusetts Boston