Immigrant Nurse Credentialing (INC) Program

Our Immigrant Nurse Credentialing (INC) Program provides a pathway for internationally educated nurses to prepare for the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN) though a 12-month re-entry program. 

We're looking forward to Cohort 2's graduation in December! 

Cohort 3 is beginning in January 2020. We are currently interviewing candidates to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements -- such as having graduated and worked as a nurse outside of the United States. For more information, please contact Cathy Boucher at!


Case Management and Advocacy Pave the Road to Self-Sufficiency

What does it take to help someone move past the trauma and culture shock experienced by so many new arrivals? Agencies like Catholic Charities help refugees rebuild their lives and become participating members in our community through a myriad of services, ranging from case management to advocacy. Case Manager Supervisor Fowzia Abdulle has dedicated her career at Catholic Charities to making sure new arrivals are safe, supported, and empowered to rebuild new lives in the U.S.

What kind of support do most refugee families need to become self-sufficient? What does self-sufficiency look like?

The basic support most refugee families need relate to basic needs like shelter, food, energy, education, employment, and healthcare. With self-sufficiency, the client must be able to maintain sufficient income to meet those basic needs for themselves and their dependents with minimal financial assistance. English language classes are also very important for clients to begin communicating here right away.

How does Catholic Charities help new arrivals address the trauma they have experienced so they can build safe, stable lives for themselves and their families?

When a refugee family arrives and is working with Catholic Charities, the family’s case manager does a thorough assessment and encourages the family to talk about any mental health concerns or trauma they’re struggling with. That way, we can assess their mental health needs.

The case worker will often encourage the family to talk through this with a counselor. If the family agrees, the case manager will submit a referral to Catholic Charities Intercultural Counseling Center. The Preferred Communities program within refugee services is where we address more significant trauma histories and mental health issues. Wherever they are, we try to meet them with helpful psycho-social supports and resources.

What tends to be the hardest thing for new arrivals to adjust to after resettlement? How does Catholic Charities help them overcome it?

The hardest part for new arrivals to adjust to is typically the language gap and culture shock. We connect them with language classes on arrival, so they can begin learning right away. We also urge new arrivals to complete cultural orientation as soon as possible, which provides education on the new and sometimes challenging aspects of U.S. culture.

Last year, 86% of employable adults found work within 6 months of arrival. What were some of the biggest contributors to that figure? Is it largely due to self-determination, or are there specific services Catholic Charities provides to make it easier for new arrivals to find work? Is it both?

Our Match Grant provides an employment service coordinator, so there are established relationships with employers who are friendly to refugees. The employer understands the unique needs of our clients and are willing to work with them to build mutually beneficial partnerships. We also see a strong motivation and a resilience to begin a new life in the U.S., so the refugees that are part of the Match Grant are extremely motivated to build new, successful lives for themselves and their families.

It is generally accepted that refugees are huge economic contributors for the community. What are some of your favorite success stories about a client or family served by Catholic Charities? (we can change names if needed)

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Factually, after a certain number of years, refugees are a benefit to our economy.  Yet, when you have someone come to this country who is, for example, a doctor in their home country and are now having to take a job at a grocery store, it can impact their self-worth and belief of their value. It can be hard for this person to overlook the fact that they will never be a doctor in the U.S. unless they go back to college and start all over again.

It can take several years for refugees to integrate fully, but they are fearless. Some refugees were entrepreneurs in their country of origin and have the experience of owning a business in their own countries. It’s likely that someone like that will open another business in the U.S. and provide significant contribution towards the economy here.


In addition to the comprehensive services provided by case managers, Catholic Charities’ refugee clients enjoy fruitful partnerships with community organizations, employers, and volunteers as they transition into U.S. residents. Community organizations like Salem for Refugees work in coalition with community leaders, local businesses, and industry professionals to promote refugee causes and encourage local employers to work with new arrivals in areas like skill development and English-language learning. Volunteers with refugee services provide thousands of hours each year in service to new arrivals, helping with everything from tutoring to transportation to employment training. With support in all these areas – case management and support from community organizations, employers, and volunteers – refugees in our community are given every tool at our community’s disposal to build healthy, sustainable lives.


Keep Oregon Open: The Welcoming Refugees Bill Passes, Sets National Example

After a nearly 8 months of uncertainty, Oregon House Bill 2508, AKA the Welcoming Refugees Bill, passed in late June, at the eleventh hour of the legislative session. The bill paves the way for the state’s three resettlement agencies, Catholic Charities among them, to continue serving refugees as they rebuild safe, sustainable lives for themselves and their families.

While enormous vocal support from both sides of the political aisle could be seen in the weeks and months leading up to its passage, the three months the Welcoming Refugees Bill spent in committee caused anxiety, even doubt, that statewide support was not as strong as it appeared on the news or within Oregon’s network of refugee service organizations.

Concern hit terminal velocity when a number of state senators walked out in protest over an unrelated cap and trade bill, casting further doubt about the fate of HB 2508 (and 100 other bills that remained to be voted on). Without quorum, it was feared that the Welcoming Refugees Bill, once considered a shoo-in, would die with the end of the legislative session.

But when the missing senators finally returned and quorum was reached, HB 2508 was met not with hesitation, as many thought it would be, but with open arms. The Welcoming Refugees Bill passed with virtually unanimous support in the Senate (after already receiving an overwhelming majority in the House), signaling Oregon’s resolve to keep our state open and inclusive for those fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution.

In the wake of continued federal cutbacks to refugee resettlement, the extra layer of state funding provided by the bill will allow agencies like Catholic Charities to continue serving new arrivals with critical resources like English lessons, employment training, trauma-informed counseling, intensive case management, and advocacy.

It was a coalition of faith organizations and community leaders that got the bill passed, including Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and Lutheran Community Services Northwest. It is our hope that similar partnerships in other states will work together to ensure the entire U.S., not just select states, remains a compassionate and inclusive place for the world’s refugees.

IRCO Africa House and Pacific Islander Youth Game

Our IRCO Africa House and Pacific Islander youth had a great time last Saturday at the 3 on 3 basketball game organized by Portland Police Bureau, The No Hate Zone, and Noho's Hawaiian Cafe

Thanks to Latino Network and Native American Youth and Family Centerfor playing with us! 

It's always great to get support from community members and partners for our youth. Timbers player Bill Tuiloma showed up to rally for our youth too! #GoTimbers


13 Year Anniversary of IRCO Africa House!

Yesterday marked the 13 year anniversary of IRCO Africa House!

While Africa House opened in 2006, the project of organizing Africa House is over 20 years old. It took IRCO staff, volunteers and the community to cultivate a space for African culturally-specific gatherings and programming. 

"When you bring your problem to Africa House, it becomes Africa House's problem." 

Thank you to all who have supported and continue to support Africa House!


Noche Bella

On September 20th, 2019 we celebrated our favorite night, the most beautiful night—Noche Bella! Throughout the years, our gala has brought communities together to raise funds for all of our programs that serve Latino youth and their families.

Every Noche Bella we honor extraordinary community leaders for their accomplishments with the Aguila Award. This year we honored the following remarkable leaders with the 2019 Aguila Award:

Serena Cruz, Executive Director, Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation

Eddy Morales, Gresham City Councilor

Holly Levow, Social Venture Partners