Austin ISD helping to acclimate Afghan refugee families

Texas has welcomed hundreds of Afghan refugee families to the area including right here in Austin, many who are being enrolled in our local school districts. 

Austin ISD is making sure those refugee families are supported and able to acclimate into their new homes.

"We believe in supporting all of our families in Austin ISD and welcoming new families into the district with as much support as we can provide," said Michelle Wallis, executive director of the Austin Ed Fund.

The Austin Ed Fund is Austin ISD’s education foundation focused on supporting education and programs throughout the district and those people who are part of it. This includes Afghan refugee families who have just moved to Austin and are now part of AISD’s family.

"We have supported AISD’s refugee services program with our AISD crisis support fund, and throughout the pandemic, it's something that we focused on providing emergency financial assistance to families in need through our Refugee Services Program," said Wallis.

Wallis says the foundation has worked to provide these refugee families with gift cards so they can use them to settle into their new lives in Austin and feel more comfortable.

"They can use those funds to purchase items that they need to become settled in our community, so food, housing, household items, clothing that families can go out and purchase those things with these gift cards and they know what they need best," she said.

Over the past year, The Austin Ed Fund has provided the AISD community nearly $675,000 in gift cards through the crisis support fund. This is overall AISD donations, but does include the refugee families.

"We're all stronger as a community when we support each other. That's something we've definitely seen throughout the course of this pandemic, and we're proud to play a role in raising funds from the community and making sure those funds get to families in need," said Wallis.

Anyone interested in donating can go online and donate to the crisis support fund.

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