Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

Service

Immigrant and Refugee Legal Services Assessment

Context

In 2019, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)—a philanthropy-supporting organization dedicated to mobilizing funder resources on the most pressing issues facing immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers—contracted RDA to conduct a needs and assets assessment to understand California’s immigrant and refugee-related legal services landscape.

Approach

Throughout the life of this project, RDA worked closely with GCIR and a Project Advisory Committee in a collaborative and iterative process to develop data collection tools, identify key stakeholders, validate key findings, and generate recommendations. We began our data collection and analysis with a review of existing reports and data sources to obtain contextual information about the current state of immigration policy, patterns, and funding in California. Next, RDA conducted 20 key informant interviews with executive-level staff from legal service organizations that specialize in immigration, community-based and advocacy organizations that focus on immigrant and refugee communities, and public agencies. These interviews focused on the current state (types of legal services available); the desired state (the optimal or ideal landscape of legal services); the unmet need (whether due to absence of services, limited capacity of existing services, or both); and recommendations (opportunities, innovations, and models that exist elsewhere or could be developed to meet the need). Interviewees were selected to reflect a diversity of regions, services provided, and population types. In addition to legal service providers in California, RDA also conducted two interviews with funders in other states to learn about promising and recommended practices for funders. To engage a wider audience, RDA also administered an online survey to a broad range of immigration legal service providers across the state. The survey covered services provided, organizational capacity, perceptions of the key legal needs of immigrants and asylum-seekers, and promising practices.

Results

Based on analysis of these data, RDA developed a report that summarizes key findings and offers recommendations to strengthen immigration legal services in California. Through this report, RDA equipped GCIR and its partners to take a data-driven approach to maximizing philanthropic and public investments in legal services for immigrants and refugees.

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