The Welcome Project began when Wave Pool Art Center's Director Calcagno Cullen teamed up with Heartfelt Tidbits' Director Sheryl Rajbhandari to start offering art classes to refugees. Within a matter of months the women in the classes began inquiring about selling their goods and dreamed of having a space of their own to run a shop and classes out of. Serendipitously, the building next to Wave Pool became available and The Welcome Project was born. The name, logo, and even the color of the walls was entirely directed by the women who worked here. Now an open community space with many partner organizations working with the refugee and immigrant community, we showcase and market salable works of Cincinnati’s newest neighbors, offer the opportunity to teach classes, receive branding and entrepreneurial training, and offer employment opportunities for our community of refugee and immigrant makers.
Welcome's mission is to empower marginalized and at risk refugees and immigrants by providing education and skills training, teaching and employment opportunities, and connections to the greater Cincinnati community by showcasing, elevating, and being a point of sale for their work.
Local immigrant and refugees bring developed skills to their new home but lack the ability to utilize these skills due to language, economic and business barriers. Welcome helps solve this by engaging them in a social enterprise including a retail store that also functions as a workshop and educational space.
We see approximately 30 refugee and immigrant artists, chefs, and makers, at Welcome each week. These makers come from Mexico, Syria, Cameroon, Nigeria, Venezeula, Belerus, Guatamala, Bolivia, Jordan, Lebanon, and many other countries throughout the world.
Cincinnati has a rich heritage of being an immigrant city. Many who are marginalized and at risk feel isolated and vulnerable. Their art enables them to share their voice without English language and build friendships. Our goal is that through this business we will empower immigrants and refugees with knowledge and break down the barriers related to employment and housing that many face.
people are forcibly displaced worldwide, refugees who left their home where it was too dangerous to stay.
Less than 1%
of refugees worldwide are ever resettled. Most live their lives in refugee camps.
were resettled in Cincinnati last year. Most came from Bhutan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
If you live nearby and would like to help, we accept volunteers regardless of skill level. We specifically need help cleaning and rehabbing the storefronts, transporting people to our programs, and teaching new skills to our newest neighbors and our larger community. Contact us to sign up. Donations are also vital to the feasibility of this project. You are most welcome to make a tax-deductable donation to help us continue and grow our program offerings.