The African Youth and Community Organization (AYCO) strives to strengthen a sense of cultural identity within immigrant communities while also enhancing capacity toward integration and hope for the future.
AYCO began working with immigrant and refugee youth in 2009, developing opportunities for mentorship and sports activities. Since its inception, the need for more comprehensive family and community support has moved AYCO toward family mentorship, parent-school mediation, cultural brokering and trainings with mainstream institutions, inclusionary programming for people with disabilities, and English language classes. In 2015 AYCO opened an office in East Portland increasing our capacity to provide an expanded array of services for immigrant communities across the metro area.
Our constituents have survived war, displacement and unimaginable hardship including a decade or more living in refugee camps. The impact of their experience is often compounded by persistent poverty, language differences and alienation once they arrive in the U.S. While their survival has required extraordinary resilience and the capacity to face a multitude of challenges, it is difficult to navigate unfamiliar American culture and resources that are meant to ease their transition. Moving forward, we are eager to bring visibility to the strengths of these resilient communities, while also attending to their challenges.