Sponsor a Refugee

Teach a child to change the world by showing them how it’s done. Your school community has everything it takes to sponsor a refugee family – and we’ll help you along the way. Together, we’ll give a thousand families a new start in Canada.

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Get started

All it takes to get started is a core group who can solicit help from your community. Just a few people to spearhead fundraising, working on the application process, and coordinating commitments to help settle a family. Five core group members is an excellent start, with at least a few of them being adults.

  • To understand the sponsorship and settlement process, review our FAQ’s; and arrange to have a representative from your group attend a refugee sponsorship training session.
  • This slideshow provides an overview of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program in Canada (excluding Quebec), this video covers general background information and a synopsis of the process and this handbook from Lifeline Syria gives a detailed step-by-step guideline for sponsorship groups as they go through their one year commitment to support refugees as they integrate to life in Canada.

If your school isn’t in the position to take on a major fundraising campaign, but wants to provide hands-on support to a family, it is possible to form a group which provides a network of support to a single family of Government Assisted Refugees.

Develop tools for communicating with your school community and volunteers/supporters

  • Logo: If you don’t have one already, you may use this one here.
  • Email account: get a dedicated email account for your community. We are using a free Gmail account.
  • Website: create a website – there are many ways to do it easily and for free. If you would like to use this one as a template, contact us and we will help. If you’re ready to build a website on your own but would like some of our material, you can use this logo (the typeface for this is Myriad Pro Semibold). For the colours on our site, you can use this chart.
  • Create social media accounts: for example Twitter, Facebook, etc to spread the word. Don’t forget to spread the word about the 1000 schools challenge – you can use this flyer.
  • Arrange an initial meeting of volunteers, split into task-focused groups, and exchange phone numbers and emails.

Prepare for arrival

As our school community moves though the sponsorship process we’ll post information and resources along the way. We’re also hoping that the process will be changing to become a bit simpler. 

Once the application is submitted, the waiting begins! 

When the family arrives, your group will be involved in providing support – from finding housing and meeting at the airport to providing practical supports throughout. Sponsors take on a legal and financial responsibility for only the first year, but many sponsors form ongoing relationships with refugee families.

Get your school community onside

  • Get agreement from your principal and perhaps some interested teachers.
  • If your school has a strong communication network, consider surveying your school community to gauge interest and locate a likely group of volunteers. (sample-survey)
  • Approach the School/Parent Council to discuss the idea at a meeting. Here is some info on pitch-school-council.

Partner with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder

  • Before you start fundraising, find a government-approved Sponsorship Agreement Holder or Constituent Group who will work with you on your sponsorship (see FAQs)
  • Talk to them about what your group will do, and what they will do – eg. who will complete the application form? Are tax receipts possible? Who will take the lead on settlement activities?
  • Make an agreement that sets out both sides’ understanding
  • Arrange a way they can directly collect funds raised by your school community for the purposes of sponsorship (e.g, online giving site).

Launch your fundraising campaign

  • Develop a fundraising strategy that may include email “asks”, events, or pledge drives. You may use this pledge form.
  • Make sure it is very clearly stated where the money is going – to the Sponsorship Agreement Holder, for the purposes of sponsorship
  • Communicate with your community throughout the campaign to share successes and build momentum
  • Keep us informed of your events!
  • The Toronto District School Board has worked with Schools Welcome Refugees to develop guidelines for school community groups wanting to sponsor refugees.  The guidelines help establish a framework to provide principals with support when their schools get involved, and rules to help ensure accountability for funds raised.