While most ORR-funded refugee resettlement programs are administered by states, the Wilson-Fish (WF) Alternative Model provides a non-traditional method of administering refugee benefits and services. The Wilson-Fish program allows for flexibility and variation in program structure, and it promotes coordination among resettlement agencies and service providers, to increase refugee prospects for early employment and self-sufficiency.

Wilson-Fish programs are administered by either:

  • States in coordination with local non-governmental agencies
  • Private non-profit agencies with state assistance
  • Private non-profit agencies without state assistance

Like a traditional state-administered refugee resettlement program, Wilson-Fish serves all eligible refugees and other ORR-served populations within the program area.

Services provided under a Wilson-Fish program are generally the same as those provided under a traditional state-administered program (cash and medical assistance, social services, etc.), although service delivery is structured differently from program to program.

All Wilson-Fish programs emphasize early employment and economic self-sufficiency by integrating cash assistance, intensive case management, and employment services, and by incorporating innovative strategies for the delivery of cash assistance.

ORR currently funds 13 Wilson-Fish programs:  12 states (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Vermont) and one county (San Diego County, CA).

The Wilson-Fish program is currently in a four-year grant cycle, from FY 2015 through FY 2019.