Supporting Foreign-Born Populations


Funding Goal: To assist foreign-born individuals and families in achieving self-sufficiency, financial stability, and economic mobility, thereby enabling them to succeed and contribute to the community.

PLEASE NOTE: Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis does NOT provide direct assistance to individuals. Funding is provided to area organizations who, in turn, work directly with individuals.

Statement of Need

Immigration to the United States has increased significantly in the last few decades, accounting for a larger portion of our country’s residents both in total numbers and in percentage of the population. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, “foreign-born persons” (this includes immigrants, refugees, and asylees) accounted for 13 percent of the total U.S. population. Today, seven percent of St. Louis area residents identify as “foreign-born”1. This richly varied population contributes greatly to our region’s economic power and cultural diversity; however, many foreign-born individuals and their families face economic hardship and cultural challenges as they integrate into the region and strive to make meaningful contributions to our community.

Lutheran Foundation seeks to support congregations and organizations that are committed to improving the social and economic well-being of foreign-born individuals and families in the St. Louis area. We seek to invest in services that allow foreign-born populations to experience increased connectedness through community engagement and civic participation as well as improve their mental, physical and spiritual health.

St. Louis is often considered a secondary migration point. After entering the U.S. through larger cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Miami, many foreign-born individuals and families relocate to the St. Louis region because of the region’s lower cost-of-living. Unfortunately, St. Louis has not capitalized on the influx of immigrants to the country in comparison to cities of similar size. While the St. Louis metropolitan area is the 19th largest in the country, it ranked only 43rd in its ability to attract foreign-born individuals and families to our region2.

Foreign-born individuals and their families bring diversity and social and economic vitality to the community. However, many arrive here with a great deal of need and depend on a scarce amount of resources to start them on their journey towards successful settlement. Some foreign-born individuals and families lack basic needs such as housing, transportation, employment and health care when they arrive in the area. Additionally, many of these individuals and their children are in need of English language learning services, therapy or counseling, and education-focused assistance.

Attracting foreign-born populations and providing the services necessary to facilitate successful transition and integration are important to the health and growth of the region. Services that address basic needs, support practical living skills and provide access to community-based health and human services help foreign-born populations with meeting the everyday challenges of living in a new culture and allow them to make a valuable contribution to the community.

Local congregations and faith-based agencies have played a critical role in welcoming and serving foreign-born individuals and their families. Leviticus 19:43 calls us to treat the foreign-born among us as we would treat the native-born.  Several area organizations have a history of demonstrating the servant heart of Christ through acts of service to those new to the area. Lutheran Foundation looks forward to investing in this work as we strive to improve the care of foreign-born populations and their families residing in the St. Louis metropolitan region.

While modeling the healing love of Christ, Lutheran Foundation strives to invest in services that show measurable impact in the lives of hurting people. We look to accomplish this by supporting services that are:

  • Comprehensive and collaborative in addressing the complicated and complex needs of the targeted population;
  • Responsive to cultural and gender differences;
  • Family-centered or focused;
  • Evidence-based/informed and/or utilize best or promising practices


To learn more about our strategic funding plan, click here.



(1) United States Census Bureau. 2012. “Missouri QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau.” U.S. Department of Commerce. Washington, D.C.

(2) Strauss, Jack. 2012. “The Economic Impact of Immigration on Our Region”. Saint Louis University. St. Louis, MO.