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Political Science Department


Dr Laurie Buonanno

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Public Administration

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Dr Laurie Buonanno


This is an evaluation of the Help Everyone Achieve Livelihood (H.E.A.L.) summer youth program for refugees between the ages of 14 and 21. Research into the issue of refugee youth not having sufficient public service programs available to aid in the transition to life in the US was examined in the literature review. Previous research suggests summer programs help form the bridge between the home culture and new culture of refugee youth. The H.E.A.L. program offers a variety of services to their clients which includes cultural orientation, job building, and ESL classes. The program runs six weeks during the summer and is looking for an evaluation to see what their strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities are. This evaluation will seek to answer H.E.A.L’s questions and see if the program is making a viable difference in the lives of its participants. Through the use of one on one interviews with program leaders, and results of focus groups with the target audience and their parents, this study evaluated the H.E.A.L summer youth program. Although there are programs available to help refugee youth when they arrive to Buffalo, there is a gap over the summer time. The study showed that most of the students who attended the H.E.A.L. program would not have had a positive or meaningful alternative. The impact of H.E.A.L. on these youth is positive as all participants and parents claimed there was a noticeable improvement in school and work search activities from attending the program. Previous studies have proven that refugee youth face many obstacles in education, employment, and cultural assimilation. The results show that the program is positively impacting its target audience but that it has some weaknesses that can be addressed.


Esperance U. Rwigamba, Political Science Department: Master in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management at the State University of New York at Buffalo State. Correspondence concerning this master’s project research should be addressed to Esperance U. Rwigamba, Master in Public Administration – Political Science Department at SUNY Buffalo State. Email: