7 million Ukrainians – most of them women, children and the elderly – have fled Ukraine since February in the wake of Russia’s invasion. Through the Uniting for Ukraine program, the U.S. joins European countries as a safe haven for Ukrainians.

Uniting for Ukraine offers a pathway for 100,000 Ukrainians to come to the U.S. for an initial two-year period.  Under this program, a Ukrainian family must have a sponsor in the U.S. who agrees to help them get on their feet.

Alight is working to make Minnesota, Wisconsin, & North Dakota be the standard for welcoming new communities.  Our goal is to mobilize 100 sponsoring groups by December and you are being called to action to help us accomplish this across the Midwest.

We’re coming to Rotary Districts 5580, 5950, & 5960 because of your reach into the farthest corners of the tri-state region. Specific targeted areas include the Twin Cities and Metro area, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato, Faribault, Marshall, Moorhead, Hudson, Fargo, Bismarck, and Willmar, but we know you have reach into many more and we look forward to working together to meet these targets.

How you can make the Welcome happen:

  • Host information sessions across the Rotary Districts in MN, WI, & ND to bring more awareness and opportunities for Welcome across the tr-state area.
  • Rotarians identify contacts from your civic groups, neighborhoods, professional networks, friends and family, etc. to join sponsor groups.
  • Send all interested parties to Alight for next steps, including a training on community sponsorship.

How Alight will support your sponsorship experience:

  • Provide a community hub of resources to support navigation of daily needs that may arise from new arrivals.
  • Provide community training and networking support for community sponsors to share and learn from each other.
  • An on-call relationship guide to assist with your questions and/or provide additional resources as needed.

Learn more about what sponsorship means here

In the News

Ukrainian teens start school in Minnesota – MPR News


How long are connection team usually in place? Are the refugees planning on being permanent residents or are they expecting to go back to Ukraine when it is safe?

The average (though every situation is different) time is about 3 months. Ukrainians are allowed to come for up to 2 years at this point. I think some Ukrainians will return when it is safe to do so, and some might never have the opportunity to go home.

Would you expect most of the Ukrainians returning to Ukraine when the conflict ends?

99% of Ukrainians are staying in the region because they have hope that they can return, though every day the war continues, they are considering coming to the US knowing that it’s the best choice for their families.

If they can’t get employment would government benefits cover their expenses or do sponsors have to provide monetary support?

Ukrainians are eligible for employment and are typically getting their authorization within 4 weeks of arrival. They are eligible for government benefits through the resettlement agency.

We do ask sponsor groups to raise around $5,000 which mainly goes towards rent costs. But some Ukrainians are able to provide their own finances. Each situation is different.

Should a connection team have a local refugee expert on the team?

Alight Guides are your local refugee “experts”. It is good to have a team of people who “doers” and want to split responsibilities. But no experts are needed, just people who want to meaningfully connect.

The purpose of Alight Guides also work to be “shock absorbers” for sponsor groups and Ukrainian families since the Guides are Ukrainians themselves and share language, culture, etc.

Would it be difficult if there was only one family group in a city like Hibbing in northern Minnesota?

That is definitely something that we are thinking about. Part of building community is knowing others that speak your language, culture, etc.

Almost every county in MN has at least ONE sponsor group so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is already families in Hibbing. But this is a good question because I think it’s good to try and find two sponsor groups in rural areas to ensure families are not alone.

We feel it’s so important for sponsor groups to connect with one another. You can introduce your families with one another to help them build community and take some of that burden off of you

Is there a financial commitment to sponsoring too, how much is that for the hosting family?

Every situation is different but we say best practice is $5000 per family.

Alight has set up fundraising pages for people who want to reach out to their networks. An anecdote I’ve heard several times is that fundraising is the easiest part when you tell your networks what you are doing.

The resettlement agencies also have several programs that refugees are eligible for including the Matching Grant Program and Cash Assistance that provide financial support and linkages to housing, jobs, etc.

Start a Fundraiser

Is there a specific timeframe?

Sponsor of 100 families by the end of 2022

There are 125k Ukrainians registered through USCIS, but not enough sponsors