The Refugee Development Center (RDC) is a vital, locally active nonprofit organization created in 2002 to provide unique, unduplicated services to refugees in Mid-Michigan. The RDC began as a small grassroots organization focused on helping refugees meet basic needs and has grown to become the go-to agency working with refugees in the region. Founded on the principles of welcome, inclusion and the importance of education, RDC provides a wide array of formal and informal learning opportunities to help refugees thrive in their new community. The mission of the RDC is to cultivate a welcoming, thriving community that collaborates with refugees and newcomers through education, engagement and support.

Twenty years ago newcomers told the community they needed a place to gather and learn about their new homeland. Too, they said they longed for social connections they knew were the necessary link to feeling rooted in our town and closer to its native-born residents. From there, all programming has been strategically designed to revolve around these two goals. Described later in detail, the RDC offers courses in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), after school youth programming, support groups, summer enrichment experiences, and a drop-in center designed to field whatever concern or question a newcomer might have.

The Refugee Development Center’s program was specifically designed to address a significant gap in services available to refugees and immigrants. The needs most cited by newcomers was access to affordable educational opportunities and meaningful community connections. From there, the RDC’s mission was born. The purpose of our existence was to provide the support and education newcomers need to integrate and be able to fully thrive in their new community. After 20 years, the RDC remains of critical significance for refugees to find a safe place to land and community of support to flourish and thrive.