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July 16, 2012

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July 16, 2012

The Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO) is an amazing organization that touches the lives of immigrants and refugees. The close-knit intercultural relationships created and fostered through this organization by bringing together so many different cultures (many with long-time historical conflicts) are creating long-term change locally and state-wide; creating a positive ripple effect for American born residents, and maybe even worldwide. According to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, every dollar invested in CIO's advocacy, organizing and civic engagement garnered $150 in benefits for their communities. You can read it for yourself here: http://www.ncrp.org/files/publications/GCIP-NW_Report_low_res.pdf

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

February 28, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 28, 2011

My name is Anna, and I have been involved with the Center for Intercultural Organizing for 10 year. I arrived to Portland, OR over 10 years ago from Poland to participate in an exchange program. I always had a strong desire to help immigrants and refugees. I was very fortunate to meet two community organizers Kayse Jama and Stephanie Stephens. At that time, I offered to help them at the small office in Portland. I was amazed to find a circle of new friends who became my new family. I was glad to help them to organize the 1st Global Portland Festival, which happened on the first anniversary of September 11th. Our mission was to bring people together and support each other in this hard time. After the first few years of their work, CIO changed their focus towards building power in immigrant and refugee communities through many different fields: education, civic engagement, leadership, and so on. It was a pleasure to see them grow. I attended Portland State University and received a degree in International Studies. Then I participated in the short faculty led program to Cyprus where I learned about the history of Cyprus. That experience allowed me to realize that I should pursue my master's degree in International Conflict Resolution and help others. Even though, I had a lot of going on, I always new that CIO advocates for the rights of innocent people, and I always found my way back to CIO. If you are an immigrant or refugee, you need to have a place like CIO that always has it's door open for people, for an advise, for comfort. They represent all people no matter what their socio-economical status is. They build bridges between communities by educating young community leaders through the program called Portland Immigrant and Refugee Leadership Program (PILOT). I never had an experience such as this. I met a lot of wonderful young people with a lot of potential who are, in the future, going to make a difference. We went through the leadership training that allowed us to learn about basics of city government, introduction of community organizing, politics of oppression, issue and campaign planning, cross-cultural community movement building, conflict resolution, and media strategy. The trainers encouraged us to go back to our respected communities and become engaged, to have an impact, to make a difference. This leadership program gave us "wings." It allows us to connect and learn about other communities. CIO organizes a lot of wonderful events that empower men and women from difference cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. They provide many workshops. They have a Media Project that trains community members on how to use media to serve the community. There are many goals that CIO has that focus on supporting people by educating them, providing civic engagement, community organizing, mobilization, leadership, and help with immigration issues. At this moment, I am on the board of directors, and I am really proud to be part of their mission. I am amazed by their ability to stand for ALL. It is the only non profit that serves in such a huge capacity. And, we all have to work together to build one safe community for our children and for the future.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I became an inspired, empowered community leader.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

bring it more funding, so it can function at it's full capacity. They operate without an office assistant. Structure is very important, and that would help them to stay more organized.

February 28, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 28, 2011

As an Ethiopian immigrant who has migrated to the US in the 70's, I found CIO to be an organization uniquely poised to hold a much needed safe space for all immigrants and refugees to have the ability to express their needs in their own voices.
Personally, as a new board member, I have
felt that I have found "home" among people with similar lived experiences and the forum to voice them.
I am honoured to be part of CIO.
Assefash

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Finding "home" with others with similar lived experiences and hold safe space for all the voices.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Participate in on going fund- raising process to ensure viability and amazing growth of CIO.

February 27, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 27, 2011

As the first person born in my family to immigrants from India, my experience in the United States has always had the feel of being an outsider. Watching my parents and all of my relatives navigate a new culture, political system, educational system - a place where our skin color, accent, religion was not always welcome and where our voices did not count as much as the rest. CIO has been a homecoming - a place where we reclaim our dignity by having our voices heard, by working for our rights, and by coming together as a community of people from all over the world, yet with similar challenges, we find that we are stronger together.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the strength of our multicultural movement, the diversity of folks that come out to support and participate in our work.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Build more capacity for our work. We have big ideas that would affect many lives and would improve our community for everyone.

February 26, 2011

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February 26, 2011

If one came to America as a refugee in 2007, when, how, and why can he become a member of Board of Directors in the Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO)? The minimum time, I guess, would take 3 years as it happened with me, and for how, it is as simple as one is invited to apply for the Board membership, and he is there in the Board.
But it is all about the (why). Why one would become a member of CIO in three months after his arrival to America? Why three years to join the Board? Why is it CIO in the first place? The answers are simple, once you get to meet Kayse who will come instantly to meet you when Lisa tells him about the active newcomer, you will be embraced with warm hearted welcoming, unconditional acceptance and recognition, and your heart and mind will recognize this sincerity. Then Kayse, Stephanie, and Lisa (leaders of CIO) will show you the way to community activism, and as a new comer to America (AKA refugees and immigrants) who wants to be equal to other citizens of America and did his own research, you will choose to join the organization that has a holistic vision and approach, sincere to its mission to defend the rights of all newcomers.
CIO will teach you the lesson of American Democracy (People can decide their future) through involvement with allies, community activists and organizations, and that is year one. Then CIO will give you the training of (PILOT) to be a community leader and how to engage in the Democratic system. In Pilot you will meet other CIO leaders, CIO staff, and community activists who share with you your values and enthusiasm, and you all become one family, so you get the warm human relations, share the experiences with each other, and that is year two. And once you are in the community, doing your homework with all the seriousness that reflect how serious you were trained, and practicing what you learn, receiving the continued unconditional support and backup of CIO leaders and staff, I guess the time comes when you are invited in year three to join the Board.
In CIO I restored the status that I lost when I left my country, I was recognized again and I restarted my new life as a member in my new home. Immigration is an American experience, America now is moving to a multicultural community in the global world of the 21st century, and this is exactly what we do at CIO, bridging between old and new immigrants, and building the new multicultural America.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Supporting grassroots organizing of the newcomers (Refugees and Immigrants).

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Support it with more time and money.

February 13, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 13, 2011

As a member of a minority CIO has taught how to be a global citizen within my diverse local community. Having participated in other immigrant organizations before, CIO engaged me in community work in a different way. Most organizations I had participated with before have a reactive approach to meet their goals; CIO,in turn, has a proactive approach to making systemic change in favor of a more just and equitable society from the bottom up...

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The way it made me feel integrated into society as well as the way it empowered me to participate in the community creating positive change

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find ways to get a stable income stream to sustain all the programs, working on this at this very moment

February 12, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 12, 2011

This organization literally changed my life. Before my involvement with The Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO), I had been in the United States for almost 50 years and never felt like I belonged here. My previous attempts to get involved in civic life were met with being shut down, feeling isolated and ignored; no matter what I tried, I essentially came away with either no influence, or feeling invisible. So I stopped trying and continued to feel like I had no voice in this city or state, let alone America.

But then I was fortunate in being chosen to participate in the leadership program for first generation immigrants & refugees (Pan-Immigrant Leadership & Organizing Training or PILOT). Through this program, I learned the basics of how our city government worked, skills for effective public speaking and organizing, and so, so much more! Through this program, I found my voice and learned how to affect change. Before my year of PILOT training ended, I finally started growing roots in this country and was empowered to create change for the better in my community.

Now I am board member for this incredible organization that has touched so many lives in a very positive way.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the difference of my before and after CIO's PILOT program. I went from being a very uninvolved member of my community to a very active and proactive community member. Since graduating from PILOT, I had joined a few city committees (Vision Into Action, Portland Plan, ONI Budget Advisory Committee), and I am currently board president of CIO.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find more diverse funding streams for a solid and sustainable future. The board is currently embarking on this now.

February 6, 2011

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Review from Guidestar
February 6, 2011

Hi, I'm Anya Valsamakis, CIO board member for five plus years. Why do I volunteer? My parents were very newly emmigrated from Russia to the US, when I was born. Though you would never know it if you met me (probably), finding my between-cultures identity was painful. I became a social worker and for years worked with refugee and immigrant families, developing programs and helping find jobs. Though social services are very important in the early resettlement years, what immigrants need for the long term is civic education, a voice here, and to have their very great contibutions seen and counted. CIO is a vibrant, flexible organization, driven by values of equity and social justice. We believe that a, " diverse, grassroots, multiracial, multicul;tural movement of immigrants and refugees"can help make Portland a better place to live and serve as a model of unity for the rest of the country. I love being part of CIO, find my community service gives back over and over. One example why I find it meaningful: at our last board meeting about 40 Somali youth came to CIO for their own organizing meeting, to launch their own youth centered non-profit. Seeing their faces and hearing their excited voices, switching between Somali and English, I felt tremendous pride that CIO empowers people to engage in this great country that belongs to all of us.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The RISE workshop- Refugee and Immigrant Solidarity Education. This workshop is an educational experience for allies who want to understand the historical forces that shape immigration policy. I learned how to better advocate on behalf of immigrant issues.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Enlarge the staff size and increase funding so that more work could be accomplished. Let more people know about the mission and the dedicated staff, boars and members at CIO.

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