U.S. Interior Department Continues Funding For One Stop Shops Serving Micronesian Migrants

U.S. Interior Department
Washington, D.C.

Aug. 9, 2017

Interior acting Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula made available two technical assistance grants totaling $467,095 to continue support for the Micronesia Resource Center One Stop Shop on Guam and the We are Oceania Hālau Ola One Stop Center in Hawaii.

The one stop centers provide information and services to migrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau also known as the Freely Associated States or FAS. A third grant for $63,249 will be used to strengthen organizations providing family services on Guam, and a fourth grant for $77,349 will support similar efforts in Springdale, Arkansas, which large communities of Marshallese migrants now call home.              

“This is a pilot effort which we have supported to help the governments of Guam and Hawaii, in particular as they struggle with high costs related to serving FAS migrants and others,” said Pula. “We have partnered with local non-government organizations that have connections and leverage within their communities to strengthen Micronesian families and to help those who are disenfranchised find the information, services and opportunities which they need to thrive, to be successful, and ultimately to reduce their impact on government.”

  • Micronesia Resource Center One Stop Shop or MRCOSS - $217,095 is provided to Big Brothers Big Sisters or BBBS of Guam to strengthen the MRCOSS effort to provide training for résumé building and job search, orientation assistance to new migrants, family support initiatives in parenting, financial literacy, health and wellness, youth mentoring, and domestic violence prevention. The MRCOSS, now in its third year of funding from OIA, will continue working on its goal to establish itself independently as its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
  • BBBS Leadership Collaborative Project - $63,249 will be used to provide executive mentoring services to new and fledgling nonprofit organizations on Guam to improve delivery of services, financial management, board development, and volunteer management. The primary groups participating in training to become high-performing organizations include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guam, Alee Family Violence Shelter, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Victim Advocates Reaching Out, and others. These groups have been taking more active roles to address the increasing incidences on Guam of family-based social problems and to engage with Guam’s disenfranchised youth through outdoor sports, hikes, community gardening and related programs. Education indicators from the 2010 Census show that 75.5 percent of Chamorro students on Guam complete high school compared to a 53.8 percent rate among Chuukese on Guam and 96.7 percent among white students. In 2014, the USDA reported that 70 percent of children enrolled in Guam schools received free or reduced lunch.
  • We are Oceania Hālau Ola - One Stop Center - $250,000 provided to Partners in Development Foundation in Hawaii to continue mentorship of the We are Oceania group as it helps to bridge gaps and to address challenges faced by the Micronesian communities in Hawaii, including homelessness, urgent medical needs, student truancy, lack of job readiness skills, increasing numbers of children in child welfare services, and increasing numbers of juvenile and adult incarcerations. The We are Oceania group has been noted as unique for being the first program where Micronesians are serving and addressing the needs of their own people. Funds will help Micronesians transition successfully and flourish in Hawaii, while also reducing negative impressions of migrants and encouraging individuals to counsel and guide others from their homelands to achieve success.

A fourth grant in the amount of $77,349.78 is provided to the Marshallese Educational Initiative in Springdale, Arkansas to:

  • Develop a series of seven educational videos to supplement the Marshallese Guide to Northwest Arkansas, which provides information on how to navigate financial systems, health services and higher education. The videos will cover additional topics such as opening bank accounts, purchasing a vehicle, and the pitfalls of high-interest rates and payday loan centers. The videos will be narrated in English and Marshallese with Marshallese actors and posted through social media where they can be available to Marshallese living in the U.S. and in the Marshall Islands.
  • Develop a pilot curriculum that includes Marshallese history and culture materials that can be utilized in middle schools in the Springdale School District. This program will supplement an on-going mentorship program where Marshallese college students tutor younger students to build self-esteem and to inspire academic success as well as goals for higher education.   The Springdale School District continues to lament a high dropout rate of their Marshallese students with only 50 percent of them graduating from high school, a rate far below the U.S. national average.
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