$150K grant will help San Antonio, local nonprofit welcome Afghan newcomers

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (center right, background) welcomes 300 people at the inaugural San Antonio Welcome Walk, an event held Dec. 4 to honor refugees' journey to the United States. (Courtesy Culturingua)
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (center right, background) welcomes 300 people at the inaugural San Antonio Welcome Walk, an event held Dec. 4 to honor refugees' journey to the United States. (Courtesy Culturingua)

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (center right, background) welcomes 300 people at the inaugural San Antonio Welcome Walk, an event held Dec. 4 to honor refugees' journey to the United States. (Courtesy Culturingua)

San Antonio nonprofit Culturingua will receive a $150,000 grant from the Open Society Foundations to partner with the city of San Antonio and help support recent Afghan refugee arrivals who want to settle in San Antonio.

According to a city news release, Culturingua will support economic opportunities for Afghan newcomers through workforce development and entrepreneurship training programs by forming partnerships with the city’s workforce development office, the SA Ready to Work program; world heritage office; economic development department; and faith-based and immigration liaisons.

Culturingua will also partner with the Adult Education and Literacy Alamo Consortium at Education Service Center-Region 20 and Alamo Workforce Solutions.

Culturingua is a nonprofit that celebrates the people and heritage of the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia in San Antonio through education, arts, culture and business.

Founded by billionaire George Soros, the Open Society Foundations is the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance and human rights.



Mayor Ron Nirenberg said this initiative will aid newcomers from Afghanistan in their efforts to build new local businesses and contribute to San Antonio’s economy and community development.

“These funds enable our city to welcome our newest Afghan neighbors and support their long-term success in San Antonio by enabling them to gain skills to obtain living-wage jobs or start and grow small businesses—all supporting inclusive economic growth for our community,” Nirenberg said.

Culturingua Chief Executive Officer Nadia Mavrakis said refugees from Afghanistan bring with them skills and cultural assets from their home countries in areas such as cooking, fabric arts, skilled trades, child care and agriculture.

“We are working with the city of San Antonio and other local partners to harness those skills to enable them to apply them in the local economy, contribute to the local cultural diversity and achieve the American Dream,” Mavrakis said.

The release said an estimated 4,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in San Antonio since September, when the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s federal government following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The Open Society Foundations grant is meant to augment limited federal resources to help communities welcoming large numbers of Afghans and seed future investments to support Afghan integration into San Antonio, the release said.

Laleh Ispahani, co-director of OSF’s Open Society-U.S. program, said local government leaders play a critical role in welcoming Afghans and helping them to settle into new communities.

“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in welcoming these newcomers. In making this grant and others like it we recognize that partnerships between local government and community groups are essential in building inclusive communities and contributing to a growing welcoming movement across the country,” Ispahani said.

By Edmond Ortiz
Edmond joined Community Impact as a reporter in August 2021, helping to launch new editions in the San Antonio market. Edmond covers various beats in the North San Antonio coverage area. He previously was the main reporter for Local Community News, covering several areas in and around San Antonio, first as a freelancer and then staff member. Prior to that, Edmond was a community news reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the San Antonio Express-News, including editing two community weeklies. He's a San Antonio native, and studied mass communications at San Antonio College and Texas State University.