International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis

St. Louis' welcoming center for new Americans.

aka International Institute of St. Louis   |   St. Louis, MO   |  http://www.iistl.org/

Mission

To help immigrants and their families be productive Americans and to champion ethnic diversity as a cultural and economic strength.

Notes from the nonprofit

America is becoming increasingly dependent on immigrants to provide new population, a youthful workforce, and economic opportunity. Immigrants are valuable employees and colleagues, entrepreneurs, taxpayers, and consumers. The International Institute, a pioneer in the field of diversity, helps ensure that St. Louis immigrants are successful.

Annually, our wide array of adjustment services reaches more than 8,000 immigrants from 80 countries, approximately 5% of the St. Louis City and County foreign-born population, according to the most recent census. Thousands more attend and participate in our annual Festival of Nations, especially as performers and volunteers. We are respected by and have strong multigenerational ties to most local immigrant communities. Our staff are key consultants on a broad range of issues affecting the social, cultural and economic health of our region.

Ruling year info

1938

President & CEO

Mr. Arrey Obenson

Main address

3401 Arsenal St.

St. Louis, MO 63118 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

43-0652640

NTEE code info

Ethnic/Immigrant Services (P84)

Employment Procurement Assistance and Job Training (J20)

Cultural, Ethnic Awareness (A23)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

A 2012 study by noted-economist Dr. Jack Strauss identified a strong correlation between growing cities and immigrant population growth. The study found that the St. Louis region's relative scarcity of immigrants explained its poor economic growth and the region's fall from the 10th largest MSA in the U.S. in 1970 to 18th in population and 20th in economic output in 2010.

Compared to other major US metro areas, St. Louis owes a significant portion of its foreign-born population growth to refugee resettlement, rather than to general immigration. So refugees are a valuable source of new population to meet St. Louis' need for more population - especially for residents who are racially and culturally diverse.

For refugee resettlement to be successful, a number of high quality short and longer term services are necessary. It is vital that a receiving community is well prepared to welcome refugees, so that newcomers and long-timers can live together in harmony and for mutual benefit.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Job Training & Placement

We are St. Louis’ most reliable authority when hiring and retaining an ethnically-diverse workforce. Our Workforce Solutions Program staff helps employers manage their workforce effectively and efficiently. We screen, match and refer work-authorized immigrant and refugee job candidates; interpret during interviews; provide training for new employees about public transportation; and follow up to help ease each new employee’s job transition. We also offer fee-based interpreter/translator services, customized workforce diversity training, and work-site English classes. Many of our job candidates fill jobs in construction; health care; hospitality and tourism; light manufacturing and assembly; and transportation. There is no employment fee charged to job candidates or employers. Thus, employers receive a $1,500 value for each job candidate hired. Program costs are underwritten by government grants, earned income, and charitable contributions.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants
Adults

We help speakers of other languages develop the English literacy skills and knowledge of American culture that they need to live, work and study successfully in the US. Utilizing various grants and private underwriting, we teach more than 1,500 students annually.There is no fee charged to students or employers for our classes since we are the largest state-funded ESOL site in Missouri.Our services include English conversation and grammar; life skills reading and writing; job search skills; workplace communication; American culture and customs; citizenship preparation; literacy skills; and basic computer skills. To attend, students must be at least 17 years old and not enrolled in a public secondary institution; they must be able to commit to regular attendance for at least six months after registration. Classes are available weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants
Adults

We facilitate the transition of newcomer immigrants and refugees to St. Louis. Annually, we provide case management services, sponsor refugees from war-torn countries around the world, and assist refugees sponsored by other agencies. For refugees we sponsor, we meet them at the airport, take them to housing we have rented, offer a special enhanced orientation program, and otherwise help them begin the process of building a new life in America. Depending on the needs of the refugee family, services can include registration for adult English classes at the Institute and at public school for children, job program registration, and on-going orientation. A small per capita grant is provided to newly arrived refugees by the federal government. The grant provides funds for three months of housing, initial food and transportation, and for other modest survival needs.
Our region includes all of Eastern MO and Southwest IL.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

Our staff helps immigrants achieve their financial dreams. We offer a variety of economic opportunity programs, including matching savings accounts known as the IDA Program. With matched savings, immigrants can buy or repair a home or a reliable car, enroll in post-secondary education, or start or expand a small business. We also identify potential immigrant entrepreneurs, help them prepare a loan package, make micro-loans of up to $35,000 through our subsidiary corporation, and provide ongoing technical assistance once the loan has been made to assure the success of the new business. These activities not only build capacity for our clients, they also mitigate risk for our lending arm, the International Institute Community Development Corporation (IICDC). Visit our website for more programs offered through our Economic Development Dept. (www.iistl.org)

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

We collaborate closely with local and regional initiatives when issues and activities impact new American communities. For example, we are leaders in the St. Louis Mosaic Project, which has a goal of attracting more immigrant residents to the St. Louis region. Staff is also active in other initiatives including the Integrated Health Network, US Attorney’s Hate Crimes Task Force, Missouri Commission on Human Rights, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

And we help all St. Louisans better appreciate our region’s cultural diversity by sponsoring special events, including Festival of Nations.
 
We offer fee-based interpreter and translator services to 350+ companies looking to enhance their global connections. Additionally, our highly acclaimed staff and consultants offer customized consulting, research and training to meet a whole host of needs.

Such revenue is an importance source of underwriting for other agency programs that depend heavily on government and foundation under

Population(s) Served
Adults

Specialty services in social work, counseling, elderly, and human trafficking are also provided. Our social work team offers a range of services, including those addressing parenting information, medical access, substance abuse, persistent mental illness, and family conflict. Counseling focuses on trauma from forced migration. Our Elderly Services Program operates quarterly events for refugees 60+. Events address a range of topics, including Medicare, weatherization, disaster preparedness, and hearing and speech.

Population(s) Served
Immigrants and migrants

Where we work

Awards

Mayor's Award 2009

St. Louis Development Corporation

"Champion of Change" for World Refugee Day 2015

White House

Affiliations & memberships

United Way Member Agency 1923

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of clients reporting increased knowledge after educational programs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Education & Citizenship, including ESOL

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Adult refugee & immigrant students w/ limited English proficiency skills who after 60 hrs of classes improve by at least one Student Performance Level as measured by the CASAS or CLAS-E pre/post tests

Number of clients placed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Client Services, including Refugee Resettlement

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our resettlement program helps refugees build new lives in STL in their first months. We address their basic needs, including food, housing & clothes. We do not control the number of refugees placed.

Number of loans issued to clients

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Economic Development, including Peer Lending Circle

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Clients use these loans to start or strengthen businesses.

Number of savings accounts used by clients

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Immigrants and migrants

Related Program

Economic Development, including Peer Lending Circle

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of IDAs under management -- An Individual Development Account (IDA) is a savings account to help lower-income individuals build assets to achieve financial stability.

Number of participants who gain employment

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Immigrants, Refugees and displaced people

Related Program

Job Training & Placement

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of job placements correlates to the number of refugees resettled.

Average hourly wage of clients who became employed after job skills training

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Immigrants, Refugees and displaced people

Related Program

Job Training & Placement

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Job skills training include: application prep assistance, resume assistance, interview techniques & practice, understanding US workforce norms (shifts, pay, employee rights/responsibilities)

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We have had a hand in the resettlement and integration of nearly every new immigrant population in the St. Louis region for almost 100 years. We work with newcomers to provide initial housing, jobs, orientation, and health support as needed. Later we provide citizenship and other community integration services that are vital during what is, for many immigrants, a lifelong adjustment process.

Awareness is growing that immigrants add value to our community and state. A large number are entrepreneurs, especially in high tech and science-related fields. They are also valuable new consumers and can help reverse population loss in the St. Louis region – a trend since the mid-last century.

The 2016-18 Strategic Plan charts our future direction by building on this competitive edge regarding depth and breadth of services and knowledge. It does so by advancing four strategic imperatives to benefit our clients and customers, local businesses, and the community at large.

1. OFFER TOP-NOTCH, FIRST-TOUCH SERVICES - Provide a continuum of superior immersion services for immigrants and their families.

In the new period of 2016-18, IISTL will strive to maintain quality and expand capacity in our core services to serve more refugee arrivals in St. Louis and at our new satellite location in Springfield. We will also grow our supplemental services, especially those that benefit the economic well-being of our clients. Examples include our urban farm, citizenship preparation, and job training initiatives.

2. FACILITATE FAMILY AND COMMUNITY ECONOMIC GROWTH - Provide superior investment services for both our customers and the larger St. Louis metropolitan community.

We will help start or expand immigrant-owned and operated small businesses by providing technical support, micro-loans, and credit counseling. A portion of these services will be offered through IISTL's wholly owned subsidiary, the II Community Development Corporation (IICDC).

3. FOSTER POSITIVE COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS - Provide superior inclusion services for the greater St. Louis area.

IISTL will seek more ways for immigrants and native-born Americans to better appreciate and value one another, especially by further growing Festival of Nations. Also, we will continue to lead the public engagement charge in-person and with technology. In partnership with parallel efforts both locally and nationally, we will advocate on behalf of immigrants and diversity issues.

4. ENSURE AGENCY SUSTAINABILITY - Ensure the long-term sustainability of the International Institute for the benefit of the St. Louis region.

We will continue to expand our communications, training, and revenue-building initiatives to more strongly position the Institute as the region's premier resource for diversity and inclusion. We will also seek ways to add more programming at our new headquarters campus and to utilize it as a revenue generator.

PROVIDE ONGOING ADJUSTMENT SERVICES:

We will explore more funding options for the refugee resettlement program services and staffing, to ease the high level of volatility in funding and services resulting from uncontrollable external forces. Meanwhile, we will look to grow our specialty services, especially to new communities of immigrants.

ADVANCE LONG-TERM, SUSTAINABLE SELF-SUFFICIENCY:

We will double the number of immigrant microloans and grow the size of the microloan fund accordingly. We will also tackle sustainability issues for several small business initiatives, including our urban farming program.

BUILD APPRECIATION FOR THE DIVERSE CULTURAL TRADITIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF IMMIGRANTS:

We will seek to help bridge the cultural gap by producing our annual Festival of Nations to offer newcomers and long-timers with a means to explore and better appreciate each other's cultures. And we will explore ways to connect the stories of new immigrants with common American traditions, like cooking, family celebrations, and the arts.

STRENGTHEN KNOWLEDGE AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS ACROSS ST. LOUIS POPULATIONS:

We will offer more community presentations and cross-cultural training sessions and consult with area civic and corporate leaders to develop a welcoming community for immigrants and their families.

PROVIDE LEADERSHIP AND ADVOCACY:

It is not enough to make presentations and provide trainings. We must also more strongly strategically align ourselves with regional and national entities and actively promote the positive social, cultural and economic impact of immigrants, especially in cooperation with local corporate and economic development sectors.

GENERATE MORE FINANCIAL AND NON-FINANCIAL RESOURCES:

A multi-year Revenue Plan is being developed. The plan will review and assess current charitable fundraising and earned income sources and explore emerging revenue-building opportunities with individuals and businesses. In-kind issues including volunteerism, donated goods and services will also be reviewed.

ENHANCE THE AGENCY'S BRAND AND IMAGE:

Utilizing social networking and electronic communications, we will further engage Millennials. We will electronically publish a series of News Briefs as well as client and program-specific stories to appeal to stakeholders of all ages. And we will work to increase the number of visitors and length of visits to our web sites.

OPERATE IN A LEGAL, PROFESSIONAL, AND ETHICAL MANNER AND PROVIDE STRONG, IMPACTFUL PROGRAMS:

We will focus on maintaining our accreditations, expanding our business continuity plan, identifying more ways to integrate technology into our work, expanding intra-agency communication, and maintaining high fiscal and quality standards.

The International Institute of St. Louis, established in 1919, is a pioneer in the field of diversity. The Institute's highly-acclaimed programs are arranged in three service pillars: 1. Immersion (New arrivals); 2. Investment (Business development); and 3. Inclusion (Community integration). In all, our comprehensive array of adjustment services annually reaches more than 8,000 immigrants from 75 countries, approximately 8% of the St. Louis City and County 2010 foreign-born population. Our annual Festival of Nations is among our region's most popular events, drawing 140,000 visitors for a weekend of fun-filled yet educational exploration of the growing diversity of St. Louis' residents.

The Institute's staff of 75 is joined by more than 500 volunteers including student interns, AmerCorps and VISTA workers, and others. More than 150 local, statewide and national organizations serve as partners, collaborators and supporters of our services and mission.

Approximately 65% of revenue in our +$7 million annual budget comes from federal, state and local grants. We are a member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis and the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

As a result, the Institute has important multigenerational ties to local immigrant communities. Our programs and services are locally and nationally-acclaimed. We also have deep knowledge of the state of the immigrant communities and population trends. Thus, we are well-positioned to serve as key consultants on a broad range of issues affecting the social, cultural and economic health of our region.

Thus, we are also well-positioned to develop further strategic alliances with the corporate sector. As our region, state and nation grow even more diverse, businesses will increasingly look to us for access, knowledge and training to expand their consumer markets and workforces.

Based on the key metrics approved in the 2016-18 Strategic Plan, each program/department has developed new measures or modified previous ones. Programs are continued to be reviewed for effectiveness and relevance with the current client population.

Client Services: 2017 saw a significant decrease in refugee arrivals, nationwide and in St. Louis. IISTL resettled half the number of refugees that were resettled in 2016. Staffing was reduced as well. A challenge faced was continuing to do 6-month home visits with less staff. Our outcomes dictate how well we are training our families in a set of essential life skills necessary for long-term self-sufficiency. If at any point, after training a client who can still not adequately demonstrate the skill, we will reteach.

Economic Development: Our resources are used to ensure that the loan underwriting process filters out as much inherent post-loan risk as possible. We provide clients with the skills and knowledge they will need to help them make good financial choices. Tracking credit score has helped us to identify those who may need additional assistance in improving their household and business financials. We are able to design tailored interventions for those who have not demonstrated improvement after 12 months.

Education: The state-mandated standardized CLAS-E tests continued to be challenging to administer and track. We were successful this past year by making adjustments in our test administration and instructions including the reports we use to store and track progress data to make better use of these tests. Staff regularly review test and attendance records to track students' progress, commitment to study and readiness to promote to the next level.

Employment: A decline in arrivals meant fewer individuals pursuing initial employment, and more individuals were seeking a better/different job. Those employed were less active in their job search due to time constraints. To ensure that active clients are able to find initial employment quickly, we focus on ensuring that participants attend job interviews as early and often as needed. The Workforce Solutions team meets bi-monthly to review cases of participants not attending interviews, and continues to find strategies to engage and refer these clients to opportunities as quickly as possible.

Social Services: The number of clients served was lower than previous years but outcomes achieved surpassed our goal. With a lower caseload, workers are able to spend more time with clients thereby ensuring that they are becoming better able to manage their health independently but also that clients are receiving more information about community resources or referrals. Monthly team meetings occur within the programs to discuss cases, processes and problem solve. Employees are regularly consulted for ideas and suggestions on how to better improve services

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our programs and services for immigrants, their families, and the wider community.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    The International Institute is currently finishing our strategic plan for 2022-2025. Our strategic plan committee consisted of current and previous clients, community members, representatives from partner agencies, and the alderman of our ward plus staff. The feedback and ideas given were incorporated into our mission statement and strategic plan.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis

Board of directors
as of 10/19/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Arindam Kar

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Term: 2019 - 2022

Todd Ackerman

US Bank

Charles Allen

Community Volunteer

Susan Bergen

Commerce Bank

Arvan Chan

Centene

Arindam Kar

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

Christina Lawrence

Nestle Purina Petcare

Frances Pestello, PhD

Saint Louis University

Anh Pham-Nguyen

Wells Fargo Advisors

Jennifer Schwesig

Armstrong Teasdale LLP

Alice Tharenos

Peabody Energy

Cullen Andrews

Dot Foods, Inc.

Sarah Swatosh

Sedey Harper Westhoff PC

Lorie White

Community Volunteer

Ken Fields

Fleishman Hillard

Eric Hansen

Deloitte & Touche LLP

Ruth Kim

Fleishman Hillard

Mark Lee

MiTek Inc.

LaShana Lewis

L.M. Lewis Consulting

Adnan Omeragic

Fox Architects

Shawn Schukar

Ameren Transmission

Amit Shah

MiTek Industries, Inc.

Sanjit Singh

Wells Fargo Advisors

Nergis Cavitt

BJC Healthcare

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/19/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/11/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.