Finding community and support as a migrant in the U.S. can be extremely difficult and isolating. That's why Seattle-based East African Community Services (EACS) was founded 18 years ago. The organization works with East Africans living in Washington state and their first-generation American children in order to fulfill their social, emotional, and educational needs.
EACS believes that strong and empowered families are the key to a transformed generation and embraces a growth mindset that centers on the strengths of their community. In these ways, it is intentional in creating space for the members of its community to grow in a safe and empowering environment that respects all of the diverse cultural perspectives it encounters.
EACS started as a social services organization. Nearly two decades on, it is one of the largest East African lead education organizations in Washington state, serving over 240 youth and 70 families each year. As it grows, it continues to work extremely hard in order to prepare East African young people for a successful and meaningful career.
On a Mission to Inspire
The executive director of EACS, Munira Mohamad, says that the mission of the organization is to "inspire East African immigrant and refugee families to achieve cradle to career success." It does this through a wide variety of programs tailored to the different groups it works with.
For example, culturally competent after-school programs aim to support in-school learning with homework help and partnerships that expose students to STEM careers. A Youth Leadership Council keeps youth engaged, prepares them to occupy positions of leadership, and ensures that the organization's work remains relevant for the people it serves. U.S. citizenship classes help students to understand American culture and the U.S. citizenship application in order to guide them through the process of making America their official home.
Through these and many other programs, EACS has created a community of families who support one another, and cohorts of happy, healthy, and culturally connected youth.
Protecting Data and Streamlining Finances
Before EACS acquired Norton Small Business security software through TechSoup, it was using free antivirus software, which Mohamad says created some "nightmarish results." The extremely basic programs were not equipped to handle sophisticated Trojans, and so EACS's computer systems became infected with multiple malware programs.
Since using the Norton software, its computer systems are clean and virus-free. This is vital for any organization, but particularly those like EACS that store the personal data of their beneficiaries. On top of that, the account management utility My Norton makes the process of managing EACS's subscriptions quick and painless. Updating its systems is made easier by the customized support Norton provides. This means that those it works with can trust EACS with their data, knowing it is in safe hands.
EACS also acquired QuickBooks in order to make its accounting more efficient and traceable. Not only was EACS able to save time and money on its current practices, but it was able to identify and correct mistakes from several years previous. It could therefore increase the accuracy of its records — even from long before it used the software — and use its financial history to learn and budget for the future.
"Using QuickBooks has allowed us to streamline our processes and work with financial professionals," says Mohamad. Not only is having accurate financial records useful for EACS itself in its daily operations, but it also means that donors and grantmakers can gain access to a fuller financial history, increasing their trust in the organization.
Cradle to Career Success
"As a nonprofit," says Muhamad, "we are conservative with our resources." Having access to TechSoup's marketplace enables EACS to direct more of its precious resources towards creating community and providing refugee and immigrant families with the tools to thrive. From after-school help, to girls' empowerment and citizenship support, EACS is supporting East African families to find community, well-being, and success.