2020 Annual Impact Report Expanding our reach by collaborating with proven, on-the-ground partners to provide access to essential education. INTRODUCING OUR NEW PARTNERS FOR 2020


This year, GEM launched a new partnership with JRS in Nairobi, Kenya, to serve urban refugee and migrant youth alongside Kenyan communities. The first cohort of students started their degree in February 2020 and, with robust support from JRS, have done an amazing job navigating the challenges of starting their studies in the middle of a pandemic.

Meet GEM student Mary

Arriving in Nairobi in 2006 at a very young age, Mary and her family officially became refugees in Kenya when war broke out in their home country. Despite the challenges she faced growing up, she went on to become part of the education program with GEM and South New Hampshire University as a JRS beneficiary, and received her AA degree in July 2020. Watch her story in her own words.

The SNHU academic writing workshop

Access to education is not only about providing the necessary infrastructure and creating opportunities, it also means addressing the obstacles that stand in the way of students. For the majority of refugee students, English is not their first language. This poses a challenge and is often a barrier when pursuing higher education and employment opportunities.

To give refugee students the best possible chance of succeeding at their studies and building a better future for themselves and their families, GEM supports the development of key skills students require to excel at their studies, such as writing. In collaboration with JRS, we organized a workshop to specifically cover academic writing and help students develop their writing skills.

By the end of the session, as Kevine, a student in Nairobi said, “I’ve learnt many new ways to paraphrase, reference, and properly organize my work into a coherent document. I’ve also learnt that being concise, rather than using many words to explain a point, is the way to go.”

Not only did this session help students to develop their writing skills, but it also gave them a huge boost in their confidence in tackling their projects and pursuing further opportunities.



UNRWA is a UN agency that supports the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. Established in 1949 to provide relief to all refugees resulting from the 1948 Palestine War and subsequent conflict, its mandate has broadened to include providing education, health care and social services to its target population.

Currently, UNRWA provides assistance and support for about 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

GEM launched a new partnership with UNRWA in Lebanon to serve Palestinian students in Nahr el-Bared refugee camp and Saida in the south of Lebanon. The first cohort of students started their degrees in September 2020, following a month of virtual orientation and preparation activities. Students at UNRWA have completed a two-year degree via UNRWA’s Siblin Training Centre in Lebanon, meaning that students are starting at the half-way point in their bachelor’s degrees.


The world as we know it is changing rapidly. Keeping up with these changes can be challenging, but it also provides numerous opportunities. By embracing these changes – such as a shift to online studying and collaboration – GEM and its students can support and accelerate the path to success, while also ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved.

With both the new partners and existing partners, GEM has continued to enroll new cohorts of students, with onboarding completed via our first fully remote orientations. These new virtual orientations leverage the power of virtual platforms to enable student engagement and interactions, such as Flipgrid.

Holding remote orientations allowed students from several sites to interact and collaborate with each other and co-lead orientation activities across countries. GEM continued to engage students remotely through synchronous and asynchronous learning, and found new ways to support them in addition to using its blended learning model.

Watch as three of GEM’s new students, Malak, Darine and Samar introduce themselves to their cohorts during orientation.

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