Slavic Community Services
Since the end of the Cold War, the Slavic community has had a strong presence in Oregon and Washington, with estimates of over 150,000 Eastern European immigrants and their families settling in the Portland Metropolitan area. Because this population lacks official minority status, its members are drastically underrepresented in the census, concealing information that highlights the economic, social and cultural needs of this specific group.
Partnering with the East European Coalition, Impact NW conducted surveys and focus groups with Slavic community members and leaders, resulting in definitive data to present what we believe is an accurate and culturally-specific assessment of issues important to the Eastern European community, and our capacity for outreach and social work in our service area. As a result, our programs within our Housing and Youth & Family departments specifically address these issues.
Why we Support the Slavic Community
The Slavic community is an integral part of Portland’s rich and diverse cultural landscape. We want to be sensitive to their needs so we can serve them better. We also want to improve our organization’s cross-cultural communication and outreach capabilities.
Leaders in the Slavic community have expressed an interest in conducting a needs assessment and community profile for quite some time. They were cooperative with our study and helped facilitate our surveys and focus groups.
Impact NW and the Eastern European Coalition decided to undertake this challenge because the lack of Slavic-specific government data and research affects our capacity for outreach and social work in our service area.
Why this Support is Necessary
Lack of employment and jobs are identified as the most important issue in the Slavic community, as a majority of families live at or near poverty. Education, crime, drugs and alcohol abuse, and a lack of political awareness are also leading concerns. Funding culturally-specific youth employment and school programs work to keep Slavic youth engaged in productive activities and lower their drop-out rate.
Survey participants overwhelmingly stated that they do not have a complete understanding of the United States political system, and that elected officials do not understand the needs of the Slavic community. Impact NW aims to address these needs with strategic partnerships to build the capacity and resources to educate and service Slavic presence.