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Refugee Children

Refugee School Impact Program

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), in collaboration with the International Institute of St. Louis, Missouri Office of Refugee Administration (MO-ORA), received funds from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), to make available grants to highly populated refugee local educational agencies (LEAs) of Missouri. School projects assist refugees in obtaining the skills needed for economic self-sufficiency and language proficiency. The focus also includes various social, health and educational services. Awards for this program are not only based on the high numbers, but also on the adequate documentation of needs and the strength of the program’s proposed services.


Targeted Population and Purpose

The refugee school impact (RSI) program targets LEAs highly impacted by the new arrival of refugee children age 5 to 18. The program covers newly arrived children and those that have been in the United States three years or less. The services are to assist refugees improve their academic performance and social adjustment to school. In Missouri, all high school aged refugee students are counted and served.


Definition of Refugee

Refugee is defined by ORR as:

“… any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”


Application Process

LEAs in counties with high impact of newly arrived children and LEAs with previous high statistics are invited to submit their numbers to DESE. LEAs with great counts are selected to submit an application.  The LEAs listed below are eligible to apply for the allocation amount indicated.

St. Louis Public Schools - $206,326
Kansas City Public Schools - $122,294
KC International Academy - $19,686


Selection Reality

Kansas City Missouri School District and St. Louis Public Schools have a history of very high refugee counts. The discrepancy between their numbers and those of the competitor LEAs is always too high.  The per capita generated by the funds received by the State of Missouri divided by the total of all selected counts leaves competitor districts with allocations not worthy for the required program time, effort and paperwork. However, LEAs are encouraged to submit their numbers to DESE to participate in the program.


​Goals and Services

The goals and services of the refugee program are set by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). This office has the flexibility to change them as needed. Current goals and services are below:


Budget Period and Performance Reports

The funds allocated to this program usually cover October through September. Performance reports are due in the months of February, June and October. A self-monitoring checklist is also required to grant recipients. Deadlines are adjusted annually.