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Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island Fund
By Jean Cohoon / February 2, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island (DIIRI) has existed only since 2013, yet its history of serving the state’s underserved, immigrant, and refugee populations goes back nearly 100 years. DIIRI was formed through the merger of the International Institute of Rhode Island, which began serving immigrants and refugees in 1921, and Dorcas Place Adult and Family Literacy Center, which served low-income adults since 1981.

Jessica Barry, director of development and communications at DIIRI, recalls, “The two boards were very visionary about the prospect of a merger. They believed that if we could better serve the community, this (Rhode Island) would be a better place. Both Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island were instrumental in helping financially to make the merger happen.”

Hired shortly after the merger, Kathleen Cloutier, executive director, explains, “A strategic planning process, involving staff, board, and clients, has given us greater direction and clearer messaging. We serve anyone facing cultural, educational, economic, and language barriers, and we empower them to become self-sufficient.”

A multi-national staff of nearly 100 people, including former clients, provides DIIRI’s programs and advocacy that focus on education, training, employment, and wraparound case management, as well as refugee resettlement, citizenship, and immigration services. Its Pinpoint Translation Services formalizes the translation services that International Institute had been offering for more than 20 years. Supporting more than 60 languages, Pinpoint’s clients include area hospitals, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals.

“We’re really client-focused. We ask ourselves, ‘How can we remove barriers and help people reach their goals?’ And we have some really wonderful partners,” Jessica says, noting that among their many partners are the Diocese of Providence, the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Social Enterprise Greenhouse, and the Capital Good Fund.

Of this new partnership with Rhode Island Foundation, Kathleen says, “The endowment is an exciting opportunity for us. The expertise of the Foundation is invaluable, and this affiliation says a lot to our donors. We believe we’re helping build a stronger community, and that’s well-aligned with the remarkable things the Foundation is doing.”
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