Immigrant Pathways Colorado, a nonprofit based in Littleton, said it has awarded more than $100,000 in grants to immigrants in the Denver-metro area, a milestone for the organization after it began offering grants in 2010.
“It feels pretty amazing,” said Susan Thornton, a former Littleton mayor who founded the organization in 2009. The nonprofit is completely community funded and receives no federal or state assistance, said Thornton.
“I was really amazed that a volunteer board of directors can do so much,” she said.
While the program focuses on immigrants living in the Denver area, Immigrant Pathways has awarded money across Colorado to lower-income, documented immigrants for a variety of initiatives such as English lessons, citizenship applications and driver’s licenses.
The nonprofit also awards scholarships to immigrants attending classes at Arapahoe Community College (ACC). As of 2021, the organization has awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships, according to Marie Perrin-McGraw, assistant director of operations and stewardship at ACC. About $1,000 goes to each student.
“Our partnerships with our community are crucial with our mission of removing barriers to education and creating those community partnerships,” Perrin-McGraw said.
Since Immigrant Pathways began working with ACC in 2017, McGraw said the program has been crucial for opening more doors to students.
“It opens a whole new way of looking at their educational path and giving them confidence to apply for funding and knowing that there’s external groups, like (Immigrant Pathways), actively wanting them to move forward,” she said.
The money given by Immigrant Pathways is doubled by a statewide program, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, that matches every $1 of the scholarship, providing students up to $2,000 from the money they secure from Immigrant Pathways.
Along with ACC students, Immigration Pathways works with several immigrant service organizations to identify applicants who may be eligible for a grant. This includes the Littleton Immigration Resources Center and the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning in Denver.
While Immigration Pathways receives larger donations of around $1,000 every year from organizations like the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Colorado chapter, it mainly relies on smaller donations from individuals across the metro area.
“It’s a non-stop effort to educate the community about what we’re doing,” Thornton said. “Most of what we raise comes from people in the community who believe in our work.”
Thornton said she’s proud of the progress and growth the nonprofit has made. As it celebrates its $100,000 grant landmark, its members are preparing to bring help to incoming refugees from Afghanistan throughout Colorado, with around 2,000 anticipated for the Denver metro area.
Thornton said the organization is anticipating an influx of grant requests, but she remains hopeful that the community that has supported Immigrant Pathways will continue.
“America has always been a land of immigrants,” she said. “And people look to us for humanitarian leadership.”