Financial Support Programs

Open Doors for Refugees helps new refugee families settle in and become members of our community. To achieve this, we offer the following programs.

Skill-Building Program

The Skill Building Program is currently suspended and is not taking applications at this time. We plan to restart this program in the future to support the education and career development of refugees in our community.

New Opportunity in 2022!

Madison-area refugees are able to apply for funds and support for education and career development as part of our Skill Development Initiative.

Please note, all applicants must have official refugee status to be considered for funding.

Those interested in furthering their English language proficiency, pursuing higher education, developing vocational skills, or starting or growing a business are eligible to apply in 2022 for mini-grants from the American Rescue Plan grant awarded to ODFR. Applicants may also request funds to cover transportation or child care expenses if these are obstacles to enrolling in a class or program.

Re-tooling in a new country is a challenge that takes many years. Open Doors for Refugees recognizes that refugees sometimes need funding assistance toward college tuition, certificate programs, or the purchase of computers or business equipment. As part of the program, ODFR will work to identify a community volunteer to partner with the refugee in any of these ways when it is helpful and desired.

Grant awards pay 75% of funds requested, starting at $100, up to a maximum of $3,000. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, with notifications sent once a month, as long as funds last. *Not all requests can be honored.


  • Tuition to attend Madison College or another school
  • Assistance or equipment to start or improve a business
  • Enrollment in a certificate or licensing program, learning English or learning to drive
  • Child care and transportation stipend to help you take classes
  • Advice and assistance to make a plan and carry it out

Emergency Funding Program (ended)

Early this last April we estimated that over 50% of the former-refugee population lost their job in the pandemic. In response to the economic devastation, Open Doors created an Emergency Funding program and allocated $10,000 (about half our assets at the time) towards relief funding. Initially, we contacted the 85 families whom we know and offered relief funding if they 1) had been here less than five years, 2) had an adult in the home who had lost a job because of COVID, and 3) they needed and wanted our help. 55 families (65%) responded, and we were able to give each of them $200. Please see the thank you notes we received in the blog section of this website.

In the meantime, the response and financial support from the community has been strong. In May over 30 people donated more than $6,000, and then we took in over $4,000 in the Walk Your Talk fundraiser. Financially we’re back to where we were two months ago, so now we are launching the second phase of Emergency Funding.

This time we’re taking a more targeted approach to try to get a larger check to a smaller number of the most hard-hit families. We are partnering with Jewish Social Services and we’ll rely on their staff to figure out what the family needs and has, and to ensure that the families are enrolled in the various federal, state and local programs currently available to them. Then, depending on the needs of the family, we’ll cost-share with JSS to address those needs. We expect to roll out this second phase in early July when we finalize remaining details.

Thank you so much for your generosity and support.