Economic Opportunity and Justice

GCIR's Economic Opportunity and Justice Work

Since our founding in 1990, GCIR has developed programs and publications to call philanthropic attention to issues facing low-wage immigrants and refugees. Economic justice and opportunity constitute a priority area in our current strategic plan. Specifically, we:

  • Provide our members and other funders with opportunities to delve more deeply into these issues through a variety of programs and publications.
  • Partner with a wide range of other organizations, such as the Neighborhood Funders Group and Workforce Matters, to advance philanthropic discussions about strategies for protecting the rights of and expanding opportunities for low-wage immigrants and other vulnerable workers.
  • Identify opportunities for foundations to invest in immigrant communities through grants, program-related investments, and mission-related deposits.
  • Collaborate with community development financial institutions to develop safe and affordable loan products and services to help immigrants move out of poverty and expand economic opportunity for them and their families, namely loans to help cover the fees and related costs of applying for citizenship and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Why Economic Justice and Opportunity Are Important

Despite their high rate of workforce participation, many low-income immigrants and refugees live in poverty and struggle to support their families. They are stuck in the lower rungs of the economic ladder due to limited English proficiency and job skills; lack of access to education and training opportunities; and undocumented status that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. Even when they have the requisite education and the skills, some immigrants may not have the credentials needed to secure higher-paid positions in the fields in which they were trained. In addition, low-income immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, rely on a cash-based economy and lack access to mainstream financial products and services that can boost their economic security and prosperity.