At ARYSE, we know that immigrants and refugees are invaluable assets to our communities. Our students - immigrant and refugee youth living in Allegheny County - are talented, caring, resilient, and with adequate support, will take their place as leaders and change our world. Most of our students have experienced a long and stressful process of migration to the States, and our goal is to ensure that when they get here, they are greeted with the warmth, community, and support they deserve.
Over the course of a 7-year journey, we have deepened and expanded our commitment to being a student-centered organization supporting immigrant and refugee youth in becoming engaged, confident, and celebrated. Through out-of-school-time programming combining creative expression workshops, literacy-rich activities, one-on-one academic support, career and college readiness curriculum, and storytelling for social healing, our students gain the tools they need to take their place as leaders within their communities and our world. Most importantly, ARYSE is a movement to create an innovative, collaborative system that supports immigrant and refugee youth from the day they arrive in the U.S. and throughout the process of actualizing their dreams.
Our flagship program is PRYSE Academy, a summer program for immigrant and refugee youth in middle and high school. PRYSE Academy is how the movement started. In 2013, local refugee youth and college students from the University of Pittsburgh took action when they realized that English learners were not receiving adequate academic or social support as they settled into Pittsburgh. By organizing a summer program, PRYSE Academy, they sought to address real-life factors like poverty, discrimination, and cultural misunderstandings that often stand in the way of immigrant and refugee youth achieving their full potential.
In 2017, I transitioned to full-time Executive Director, and since then, we have established 3 new programs to accommodate the growing and diverse immigrant populations in our region. Our vision is for ARYSE to become an international model for supporting young people as they transition into their new lives. Our team is honored to continue this work in collaboration with our students, especially at a moment when it feels more important than ever to stand with immigrant and refugee communities.