NICE Newsletter: March 2014

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RISE Takes Flight

The Refugee Integration Support and Empowerment (RISE) Program may be new to NICE, but it runs like a well-oiled machine. Ashley Guillory, the RISE Coordinator, has made sure of that. Originally from Louisiana, Ashley obtained her B.S. from Winston Salem State University and her M.A. in Community Psychology and Social Change from Penn State. With Ashley’s expertise, in the first six months of programming RISE has graduated a class of childcare business training students, completed two pre-driver’s education courses, started the re-certification process for several professionals transferring credentials from their homelands to the U.S., and enrolled many refugees in adult education courses.

The RISE program consists of four separate components, each with its own clients and volunteers. The individual components offer unique services to Nashville’s refugee community. The childcare training is a one-of-a-kind program that offers refugees the tools and knowledge to start their own childcare businesses. The course culminates in licensing and internship opportunities. The second component of RISE, pre-driver’s training, has been the most popular. Instruction in vehicle safety and support during the process of obtaining a driver’s license has helped clients safely merge onto Nashville’s streets. The third component of RISE, the re-certification program, is a rarely found but highly demanded service among immigrant and refugee populations. Many people who immigrate to the U.S. are professionals in their home countries with degrees and certifications. Unfortunately, these qualifications are not easily transferred and recognized in the U.S. The challenge of having been a practicing lawyer in one’s home country who now works at Walmart, as is the case with one client, is unthinkable. RISE helps such individuals create and follow a plan for the re-certification process. With the final RISE component, adult education classes as a source of supplemental English language education, clients have a comprehensive system of support. Through Ashley’s well-crafted program of support and empowerment, clients are most certainly poised to rise above some of the barriers they face.

For her hard work in getting the RISE program off the ground, Ashley was voted the Staff of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2014. Her warmth and dedication are not lost on her clients, either. The most recent childcare training graduates threw her a surprise party of appreciation!

If you or someone you know is a refugee or asylee who has been in the U.S. for 5 years or less, contact Ashley if you are interested in participating in the RISE program. Classes are ongoing and the programs are continuing to accept new clients. Ashley can be contacted through email or phone at 615-454-5207.

How Can You Help?

NICE is in need of a 12 passenger van to transport students home from our youth program, take refugees to job interviews and more. Do you have one you would like to donate? Would you like to help us purchase one? If so, please contact Jordan Peoples.

If you are interested in volunteering or interning with NICE, you can visit our program pages to see which opportunities interest you. Contact Kate Burns at 615-678-7273 or by email for more details.

Share or retweet any posts you see with #BigPayback to raise awareness about NICE's upcoming fundraiser!
Donate to NICE
Purchase Gat's Book

Announcements & Upcoming NICE Events

Congratulations to Emily Dunn, NICE’s March 2014 Volunteer of the Month. Emily has taken on numerous special projects with the after-school program during her time at NICE, including coordinating groups of visiting college students, collaborating on two feature articles for the NICE newsletter, and taking students on individualized field trips to explore college and career options. She has trained other interns and supported staff with adult education and volunteer management projects. Emily has built great rapport with all the learners, dramatically increasing their confidence in themselves and their abilities. She has exceeded all expectations and students and staff agree we are lucky to have a volunteer of such high caliber.

In Case You Missed It: Our new address is 417 Welswhood Drive, Suite 100, Nashville TN. We are on the first floor of the Sunmark Building. Please come visit us!

Adult Education Classes are in full swing. Call the office at 615-315-9681 for registration information.

President & CEO Gatluak Thach and NICE was featured in NPT's Next Door Neighbors series. See the piece here.

"Where Are They Now" is a feature NICE dedicates to previous interns and volunteers, highlighting their current activities and accomplishments. If you are a former intern or volunteer at NICE and would like to be featured, please contact Jordan Peoples for more information.

The #BigPayback

Give empowerment. Donate to NICE.

The Big Payback is a community-wide, online giving day hosted by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee on May 6th, 2014. This charitable giving day will help our organization raise much-needed unrestricted dollars and celebrate the good work of all Middle Tennessee nonprofits.

NICE needs your help to make this fundraiser a success. We are targeting the first hour of the event (6am - 7am on May 6th) to start our day off right. Please plan to donate during this hour to give us a chance of getting a $1,000 bonus! Each day leading up to the event, NICE will be posting on social media sites to raise awareness. Please check for updates regularly and share the posts with your followers and friends.

For more information or to donate on May 6th, visit the NICE website or

Where Are They Now: 
Allie O'Neil

By the time she came to intern at NICE, Allie O’Neil had already interned at the Tennessee Justice Center, volunteered at New Times, a magazine written by refugees in Copenhagen, and served as a Site Leader for student service trips with Alternative Spring Break at Vanderbilt University. She states that she chose NICE because “I loved working with refugees at New Times and learning about experiences that immigrants have integrating into a new community, so I wanted to continue that experience in Nashville. I was also interested in learning more about non-profit management.” 

As the President's Assistant Intern, her main project was to create a Guide to Program Evaluation but she also spent time helping other programs. She helped with the Youth Impact Summer camp, registering students and teaching English classes, researched and wrote grants, planned NICE’s participation in the World Refugee Day block party, and was instrumental in NICE’s outreach for the Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good competition. Since her internship, Allie has continued to explore monitoring and evaluation. 

Today, Allie works as a Program Associate for the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The program brings mid-level professionals from other countries to the United States for 3 weeks to meet their peers in a particular field. Since she meets people from all over the world in her job, Allie is putting the cross-cultural communication skills she honed at NICE to good use. in regards to her time at NICE, Allie says “Everyone at NICE is eager to help you develop professionally. If you're interested in a certain department or program, there will be people supporting, educating, and inspiring you to go for it!”

If you are interested in an internship at NICE, please contact Kate Burns.
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