Belonging Begins in Schools

Communities thrive when schools nurture a sense of belonging among young people and their families. The inverse is also true. Communities suffer when schools do not meet the needs of their student populations. Schools are where the American dream should begin, and they are failing. Immigration is driving the majority of population growth in the United States. Our schools are at the forefront of this demographic change but are unprepared for it.

When high numbers of immigrants arrive, prejudice and xenophobia against them rise.

Immigrant students report that their teachers don’t understand them; they are frequent targets of identity-based bullying and feel like they don’t belong.

Re-Imagining Migration's Ambassador Sandy Mendoza and her students in Florida greeting students in their native languages.

Why it matters

When educators don’t have the training, resources, and support they need, it negatively impacts immigrant youth’s academic outcomes and their social-emotional well-being —ultimately depriving all young people of the social networks that lead to economic opportunity and strengthen our communities. The success of immigrant youth, 27% of the school-aged population in the US, begins with inclusion and belonging.

The big picture

With immigration reform deadlocked and anti-immigrant fears amplified by mass and social media, we must reimagine our tools to counteract anti-immigrant sentiment. The potential of schools to help individuals and communities navigate demographic change is an untapped resource. English language learning is a small but meaningful part of the answer. However, the only money schools receive related to immigration is targeted at language acquisition-related services, often neglecting programming needed to address the broader needs of students and their communities. Creating the conditions and opportunities for meaningful engagement across group identities in schools leads to positive changes that can last a lifetime.

Our solution

Re-Imagining Migration (RIM) believes schools have the potential to help individuals and communities navigate demographic change. Schools can be greenhouses for inclusion and belonging that counteract harmful anti-immigrant sentiment. And teachers and school leaders are actively seeking the training and resources they need to do so. Recognizing that communities have different needs, RIM has designed a research-based approach that offers educators practical tools and strategies they adopt to promote the dispositions that allow newcomers to thrive, their peers to learn, and communities to successfully navigate the predictable tension that surfaces with demographic change.

Our mission

Re-Imagining Migration’s mission is to advance the education and well-being of immigrant-origin youth, decrease bias and hatred against young people of diverse origins, and help rising generations develop the critical understanding and empathy necessary to build and sustain welcoming and inclusive communities.

Go deeper

Last year, RIM reached tens of thousands of educators online, in addition to in-depth pilot programs in Massachusetts, Nebraska, and New York. 99% of participants who attended our workshops and webinars said they left more confident serving immigrant students and teaching about immigration. The evolution and development of RIM’s programmatic approach is based on significant and well-established academic research. Our approach has been thoughtfully developed in collaboration with our partners at Harvard Graduate School of Education, diverse communities of classroom educators, and migration scholars to promote the social-emotional, civic, and intellectual capacities crucial for our youth to live in our changing world.

Implementation of the Re-Imagining Migration model has the power to:

Unleash the potential of immigrant youth and prepare their peers to navigate demographic change.

Build communities of belonging by Improving the school climate and promoting the ability of educators to serve a diverse student population.

Leverage relationships and dispositions nurtured in schools to build a strong sense of belonging within and across communities.

Develop a workforce and population prepared for the needs of our changing communities, which will benefit from the positive economic and cultural impact migration ignites.

Our Guiding Principles

Foster Cultures of Belonging

Educational settings are uniquely poised to facilitate belongingness and social inclusion, enhance intergroup conversations and interactions to counteract bias, racism and xenophobia.

Cultivate Understanding

Fostering understanding of immigrant origin students by their teachers, others who serve them, AND their peers is essential for them to flourish and for greater inter-group understanding.

Unifying Migration Narratives

Stories of migration offer a lens into our past, present, and future and is a shared human experience upon which to foster empathic and perspective taking capacities.

Take a Holistic Approach to Wellbeing

Cognitive, emotional, physical, and social wellbeing are fundamentally interrelated and interconnected.

Balance Both a Trauma-Informed & Strength-Based Perspective:

While many immigrant-origin youth have experienced an array of traumas and stresses, they are resilient and will flourish if provided opportunities to develop a sense of belonging and competency with nurturing supports.

Inform Culturally Responsive Practices

Practices are continually informed by and incorporate recognition, inclusiveness, assets, and respect which serve to engage and empower students.

Engender Empowerment

Educators are empowered to better serve their immigrant students and foster intergroup communication in order to reduce xenophobia and racism. Students are empowered to be prepared for a world on the move and become civic agents.

Stimulate Collaborative Engagements

Collaboration with communities, high-impact educational and cultural institutions, and research is essential to our work and centers on listening, responding, and adapting to needs and context.

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