State Grant Awarded to Support Asylum Seekers in Champaign County

The City of Urbana, in partnership with the City of Champaign, The Refugee Center, New American Welcome Center, and Cunningham Township Supervisor’s Office, were awarded a $247,918 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services to fund services to asylum seekers in Champaign County. Both Urbana and Champaign City Councils will review acceptance of these funds later this fall. The funds will help cover the costs of shelter, food, health and wellness, legal expenses, and wraparound services for asylum seekers from Central and South America and the Middle East who have settled in Champaign County since August 2022. The grant funds will provide services for an estimated 200 adults and 100 children during the grant period (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024).


“The City of Urbana is honored to be able to support the important work of our local immigrant service providers, and this funding opportunity will assist many asylum seekers that have come to Illinois looking for a better life,” says Breaden Belcher, Interim Grants Division Manager for the City of Urbana.


City of Champaign Community Relations Manager and Compliance Officer Janel Gomez added, “Asylum seekers are commonly forced to flee their countries with little support and resources when they arrive in the United States. The grant funds will be used to help support those individuals and families who immigrated to Champaign County in search of a better life.”


Director of The Refugee Center Lisa Wilson comments, “The Refugee Center encounters many clients seeking asylum that are without any means of support. This funding will help support these individuals with their basic needs until they are able to establish themselves and seek employment authorization through the complex asylum process.”


Champaign-Urbana is the only downstate community to receive funding through the state’s Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services grant opportunity. The grant will be jointly administered by the Cities of Urbana and Champaign and distributed to local agencies that provide direct services to asylum seekers, including The Refugee Center, New American Welcome Center, and Cunningham Township.