In 2011, the Junior League of Cincinnati (JLC) conducted a community scan of unmet needs affecting women and children in the Greater Cincinnati. The research found a lack of coordinated services for refugees. After two years of investigation, the Junior League of Cincinnati identified more than 40 community partners working to empower refugees and began sharing resources and responsibilities regarding the success, integration, and care of refugees. In 2013, RefugeeConnect, an umbrella program to link the community, was born. Now, over 80 organizations participate in the community partner network, Refugee Empowerment Initiative (REI). RefugeeConnect raises awareness about the refugee experience in the tri-state. RefugeeConnect works with all refugee populations in the region.

Mission: To improve the lives of refugees in Greater Cincinnati, to foster community acceptance and inclusion, and to construct a sustainable support system.

Vision: To influence the Greater Cincinnati community to become the most welcoming city in America for refugees.

Purpose: RefugeeConnect aims to bring refugees, their stories, and issues they may face, out of isolation and into the awareness of the Cincinnati community. As our natural-born population decreases, refugees play a vital role in sustaining our population, strengthening our economy, and increasing our community’s vibrancy. RefugeeConnect is creating ONE Greater Cincinnati community.

RefugeeConnect was created because one of the greatest needs found was for a collaborative umbrella program focusing on linking the service provider network, raising awareness through advocacy, and educating the greater community about the refugee experience in the tri-state. RefugeeConnect works with all refugee populations in the region. RefugeeConnect’s primary goal is to construct a sustainable support system through a physical and virtual resource center, which will connect refugees with available resources in the community.


Greater Cincinnati has approximately 25,000 refugees, with 200-300 new refugees resettling in this area every year. Refugees come to Greater Cincinnati from a variety of countries of origin. Greater Cincinnati’s refugees live in communities on both sides of the river.


RefugeeConnect is a united, collaborative program which does the following:

  • Hosts a virtual resource center at that:
  • Connects refugees to service providers,
  • Increases community awareness about refugees through Advocacy Events,
  • Unites organizations through quarterly forums (Refugee Empowerment Initiative) and through the virtual resource center (website), and
  • Educates the community on opportunities to volunteer and ways to show that we are a welcoming community.
  • Facilitates a community-based stakeholder partnership meeting quarterly called the Refugee Empowerment Initiative (REI). The quarterly meetings are hosted by the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University in the Cintas Center. REI participation and input includes more than 80 organizations.
  • Awards refugee students a scholarship created by Alicia Kappers, co-founder of RefugeeConnect and Ziad Razzak, a refugee, to honor their late son, Dean.

For more information, please contact RefugeeConnect’s program director, Robyn Steiner Lamont, MSW, LSW at or at 513-449-0368.