is the MAA Coalition?
MAA Coalition was created in the end of 2000 by a group of refugee
community organizations in Massachusetts interested in collaborating
to increase their strength and capacity and thus improve the support
they could provide to their communities. Founders had identified
fragmentation from each other and isolation from mainstream institutions
as primary barriers to the integration of refugees and immigrants
into the larger society. By building coalitions, combining their
strength and experience, refugee and immigrant community leaders
can amplify their voices and multiply their influence and impact,
better serving their communities.
mission of the coalition is to promote solidarity and collaboration
among grassroots Community Based Minority Organizations (CBMOs)
serving refugees and immigrants to strengthen and provide a voice
for these communities in Massachusetts. The MAA Coalition is committed
to advocating for their communities through capacity building and
leadership development, and addressing needs through the provision
of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
participants are 501c(3) non-profit organization. Members are at
various levels of organizational development. Some are new groups,
while others have been in existence for over 10 years.
coalition meets the last Thursday of every month to share information
(on issues, events, funding opportunities for individual organizations,
etc.) and to work in subcommittee. The three standing subcommittees
are: 1) public relations and advocacy; 2) fundraising; and 3) education
List of MAA
for Community Development (AICD)
Bosnian Community Center for Resource Development (BCCRD)
Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance Association (ECMAA)
Haitian American Public Health Initiative (HAPHI)
Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC)
Russian Community Association of Massachusetts (RCAM)
Somali Development Center (SDC)
Southern Sudan Solidarity Organization (SSSO)
Sudanese American Institute and Development Center (SAIDC)
Universal Human Rights Initiative (UHRI)
Vietnamese American Civic Association (VACA)
Refugee Communities in
Massachusetts An Overview
Massachusetts refugee and asylee communities today are primarily
composed of (in order of arrival) Cambodians, Vietnamese, Haitians,
Ethiopians, Russians, Somalis, other Africans (from dozens of nations),
Bosnians, Albanians and Sudanese. While some of those at the end
of this list have only established small communities here to date,
as new and growing communities, they play a key role in the Commonwealth's
The first of this group to arrive were the Cambodians and the Vietnamese.
Most Cambodian refugees arrived in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The community has gradually grown since that time as immigrant and
refugee relatives have joined the original refugees. There are about
50,000 Cambodians in Massachusetts today. The largest concentration
of Cambodians in Massachusetts-30,000-is in Lowell, northwest of
the Greater Boston area. Lowell is home to the second largest Cambodian
community in the United States. An additional 8,000 live in the
North Shore area of Greater Boston, concentrated in Lynn. The third
concentration is 7,000 Cambodians in Fall River, on the Rhode Island
border. MAAs that serve this community include the Cambodian Mutual
Assistance Association (Lowell), the Cambodian Community of Greater
Fall River, the Cambodian Community of Massachusetts (Lynn) and
the Khmer Family Resource Center (Fall River).
Vietnamese refugees began resettling in Boston in the 1970s and
have continued to arrive throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Massachusetts
is home to about 45,000 Vietnamese today. The community is concentrated
in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, with sub-communities spread
throughout Greater Boston. There are also sizeable Vietnamese populations
in Worcester and Springfield. The community is served by the Vietnamese
American Civic Association (VACA) in Dorchester and by Springfield
Haitians have been arriving in Massachusetts for three decades.
While earlier arrivals were mostly immigrants, many arriving since
the early 1990s have been granted parolee status. The population
is currently estimated at 75,000 and is concentrated in Boston's
Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods. Cambridge and Somerville
are also home to Haitian communities. Sub-communities are spreading
out to secondary cities including Brockton and Worcester. The Haitian
American Public Health Initiative in Mattapan is a major community
In the 1980s, Ethiopians began arriving in Massachusetts as refugees.
Recently, some Ethiopians have entered on diversity visas. Today's
population of Ethiopians is estimated at 11,500 and lives primarily
in Boston, Cambridge and Lynn. The Ethiopian Community Mutual Assistance
Association in Cambridge provides services to this community.
While a few people from the Soviet Union migrated to Massachusetts
in the late 1970s, substantial numbers of former Soviet refugees
(primarily Russians) have arrived only in the past fifteen years.
Today, over 90,000 live here. Most Russian speakers have resettled
in Boston's Allston/Brighton neighborhood and later, nearby Brookline
and Newton. Growing populations are in the North Shore area, around
Lynn. A sizeable group has resettled around Springfield. Community
agencies include the Russian Community Association of Massachusetts
in Brighton, Lynn, and Springfield.
Somalis arrived in Massachusetts as refugees throughout the 1990s.
The population now numbers about 8,000 and lives in the Boston neighborhoods
of Roxbury, Dorchester and East Boston, as well as in surrounding
communities of Cambridge and the North Shore. Major community service
providers include the Somali Development Center and Refugee and
Immigrant Assistance Center, in Boston and Lynn.
Bosnians sought refuge in Massachusetts in the mid- to late-1990s.
The community now numbers about 9,000-12,000 and has settled largely
in the North Shore area around Lynn, as well as Chelsea, with some
presence in the Cambridge and Somerville areas. More recently, some
have settled around Springfield and Worcester as well. The Bosnian
Community Center for Resource Development was recently established
to serve this population in Greater Boston and is working to set
up an office.
Africans are among the fastest growing refugee/asylee populations
today. They come from all regions of the continent and almost 50
African countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Kenya,
Zimbabwe and many others. They are both immigrants and refugees/asylees.
Community estimates set the African immigrant population in Lowell
(northwest of Greater Boston) at 5,000, while the Boston area is
home to at least 10,000 Africans (not including the Somalis and
Ethiopians counted separately above), for a total of more than 15,000
statewide. Grassroots organizations that serve these communities
include the African Assistance Center (Lowell), African Initiative
for Community Development (Boston) and Universal Human Rights International
There was a new flow of Albanians to Massachusetts in the 1990s,
about 5000 of whom entered on diversity visas. This added to a much
older Albanian American population. In addition, about 450 Kosovars
resettled here in 1999.
The Sudanese community in Massachusetts currently numbers 200-300,
up from only 20 people in 1998. This includes over 100 Sudanese
refugee youth that have resettled here in the past few years. The
other members of the community mainly live in the North Shore area
around Lynn. The South Sudan Solidarity Organization is a fledgling
organization working to serve this community.
In order to understand the newcomer context in Massachusetts, several
major non-refugee populations should be mentioned. There are large
Portuguese communities here (250,000), although since this group
arrived in the 1960s and 1970s (somewhat earlier than other populations
addressed in this document), the numbers include a substantial percentage
of second and third generation Portuguese. Latino communities in
the state are about 150,000 strong-made up mostly of Central Americans,
as well as Dominicans and Colombians. There is also a sizeable Chinese
immigrant community (75,000) and a Cape Verdean population of at
least 70,000. Finally, about 120,000 Brazilians have arrived in
Massachusetts in the past fifteen years.
NB: The numbers used in this document are estimates made
in good faith by many parties involved with refugees and immigrants
Office for Refugees and Immigrants, January 2003.
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