Initial Beginnings

The African immigrant community views education as the greatest equalizer and a principal tenet of their pursuit of the American Dream. Portland Public Schools did poorly with our refugee and immigrant children and families in both academic and non-academic areas of school.


The African immigrant and refugee community in Portland convenes for a community conversation to address the growing education inequities at Portland Public Schools. The community engages with the district’s bilingual department and ask for data on the Somali students’ achievements.


The Somali community formed an advisory council and a task force to study factors contributing to the educational disparities at the district. The Bridging the Gap: The status of Portland’s Somali students and a path for progress in Portland’s failing classroom report is published.


The Center for African Immigrants & Refugees of Oregon (CAIRO) is formed, with the implementation of CAIRO Academy (Preschool Promise) and SPACE program at David Douglas School District and Portland Public Schools respectively.


The name is changed to the Center for African Immigrants & Refugees Organization as CAIRO expands into the State of Minnesota. The Health Equity and Economic Development portfolios become additional strategic priority areas of CAIRO.