Meet Julie Robinson, a community leader and outreach manager at Refugee & Immigrant Services & Empowerment (RISE) at the Kansas City Public Library. The organization connects immigrants and refugees in the area with educational opportunities, mentorship and other resources. Julie grew up in Northern California and currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
Julie started RISE five years ago, and has seen the organization, and the community it reaches, steadily grow. “Sixteen years ago, I started working with the Kansas City Public Library. I was asked to fill in at a branch for two months as an assistant branch manager. Five months later, I got the job. I was a manager at the Irene H. Ruiz Biblioteca de las Americas branch.
Because of what I was doing with outreach, and my work with populations who were not from the U.S., I was asked to start RISE. Ten percent of the Kansas City Public Library service area, which is primarily the urban core of Kansas City, comes from another country, and speaks another language in their homes, other than English. We reach a lot of that population, though it fluctuates from event to event, day to day. We just finished a naturalization ceremony here, at the library, we hold about two of them per year. The library has been tremendously supportive.”
She designed the available services to include everything from an English for Citizenship class, which preps students for the U.S. naturalization exam, to financial literacy courses. “Almost all of our programs are staffed by volunteers, on any given month we have between 45 and 55 volunteers.”