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Refugee Education Program

Refugee School Impact Grant (RSIG)

The Refugee School Impact Grant (RSIG) is a competitive federal grant which funds Pennsylvania's Refugee Education Program and local grantees. The primary goal of Pennsylvania's Refugee Education Program is to assist recently arrived refugee students and their families demonstrate a greater assimilation and integration into the school and community in a culturally and linguistically competent manner.

Pennsylvania's youth are the future success of the state. This grant addresses the unmet and emergent needs of recently arrived school-age refugee students (5-18 years of age) and the refugee families. The grant promotes out-of-school academic time and enrichment programs that will improve English fluency, support social adjustment, announce and disseminate information about/for refugees, and provides parent/family education and engagement.

Grantees of RSIG strive for a culturally competent transition to Pennsylvania and it's public education system that is comfortable for all serviced refugee students and their families. The goal of a seamless transition is to enable refugee students to adapt to a new and different cultural and linguistic environment.

The 2017-2018 grants will range in size depending on the scope of the program, extent of services, number of participants to be served and the special needs demonstrated by the refugee student population. Demonstrated collaboration will be a priority requirement of the potential grantee recipients: school districts, local education agencies (LEA), refugee resettlement agencies, and other community-based and nonprofit organizations. Refugee grant recipients must create a comprehensive, holistic approach to meeting the academic and social needs of refugee students and their families.

Technical Assistance

The Pennsylvania Department of Education aims to integrate and assimilate refugee students into the public school system. Pennsylvania's Refugee Education Program offers advocacy for a special population of students and parents who otherwise may not have supports. The Department provides technical assistance and facilitates districts' capacity to:

  • Connect to the appropriate refugee resettlement agency in the surrounding areas
  • Identify refugee students at enrollment
  • Record the achievement of refugee students so that they may contribute to increasing the overall achievement of the district
  • Provide a free and appropriate education for refugee students in the least restrictive environment
  • Facilitate policy, requirements, procedures and activities by providing translators and interpreters in the native languages for refugee families
  • Link refugee students to supportive programs within the district to help them achieve academic and social-emotional integration
  • Work with community-based organizations to support refugee youth
  • Encourage refugee parents to engage in the education of their children
  • Value and use the diversity that exists within the refugee community to prepare all students for global service and leadership


Resources for Teachers

On the Health/Mental Health of Refugee Children

On Social Skills Programs

On Refugee Children Teaching Materials

Children's Books

  • From Far Away, Robert Munsch
  • One day we had to run: Refugee children tell their stories in words and paintings, Sybella Wilkes
  • Refugees: A resource book for primary schools, Jill Rutter
  • The other side of the truth, Beverly Naidoo
  • Who belongs here? An American story, Mary Burns Knight
  • Who belongs here? Teacher's guide, Mary Burns Knight and Thomas V. Chan
  • Why do they have to fight? Refugee children's stories from Bosnia, Kurdistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka, Jill Rutter and Mano Candappa
  • Enrique's Journey, Sonia Nazario

For more information please contact

Pamela M. Kolega, Refugee Program Officer
Bureau of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction
Phone: 717-265-8964 | Email: