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Our Mission

At Refugee Artisan Initiative, we partner with refugee and immigrant women to help them achieve their dreams. We hold that sewing is a universal language: women of diverse backgrounds find community together as they use needles and thread. In this safe space, women develop their skills, their confidence, their entrepreneurship, and their sense of purpose.  


RAI partners with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the US through artisan skills training and micro business development.


A community that values and invests in refugee and immigrant women as they achieve economic independence.

The four pillars of RAI’s work:


With a strength-based approach, RAI’s programs meet women where they are, celebrating their talents. The model of flexible, at-home work empowers artisans to overcome barriers to employment such as child care responsibilities, language, and lack of transportation, to earn equitable income, and to achieve economic stability.


Whatever her sewing level, each artisan receives ongoing support from the team at RAI, including opportunities to practice English language skills, assistance obtaining a business license for her home sewing business, and ongoing training in specialized skills such as tailoring and mending. 


RAI diverts thousands of pounds of textiles and other materials from landfills each year and utilizes these upcycled materials to create unique hand-crafted items. The artisans specialize in creating innovative designs to give a second life to hard-to-recycle items such as coffee bags and fire hoses. 


RAI is a safe space for women where each artisan can find community and build her confidence as she builds her new life. RAI also serves as a resource for all community members who want to learn about upcycling, the circular economy, and the refugee and immigrant experience.

Refugee Artisan Initiative, also known as “RAI” (as in “ray of sunshine”), is a 501c3 non-profit organization # 82-0961407.

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