Our Programs







All of NICE’s educational programming is designed to empower New Americans to live better, healthier lives. To do this, we prepare participants to be self-actualized and reach their goals. Across content areas and for groups of all ages, we facilitate access to community resources, promote healthy behaviors by fostering stress coping mechanisms, educate about vocational opportunities, and improve literacy skills needed to navigate the public sphere.

Early Childhood

Preschool and elementary-aged children participate in free childcare offered during our adult English Language classes. While in this program, students enjoy activities, lessons, and special events designed to promote school and reading preparation. They also learn about healthy relationships, behaviors, and decisions.

Middle School

Our NAZA-funded after-school programs meet four days a week at McMurray and Margaret Allen Middle Schools. Through art therapy, CATCH, academic interventions, and English as a Second Language lessons, our program staff work to mitigate the effects of interrupted education and cultural/ language-based barriers.

High School

During the school day, our Youth Program Coordinators join classrooms throughout Nashville alongside Metro Nashville Public School teachers to provide direct support services. While our primary purpose is to aid often under-resourced teachers, NICE further enriches the learning process with our English as a Second Language, civics, and literacy curriculum.

In partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Tennessee Office of Refugees, the Refugee School Improvement Grant (RSIG) supports New Americans as they learn to navigate the Tennessee school system. We do this by offering professional development for teachers, representing and advocating for our families across the district, and offering school orientation for all new arrivals.

English Literacy

Funded by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, NICE English Literacy and Civic Engagement classes help students actualize long term educational goals such as employment, higher education, naturalization, and improved family health. NICE operates seven different levels of English Language Learning classes ranging from beginning literacy to high intermediate at four locations across Nashville. As part of this curriculum, NICE integrates community-minded workshops designed to create avenues of access to community resources such as the library, public transportation, police assistance, and medical care.

Adult English Class Flyer Download (English)Adult English Class Flyer Download (العربية)Adult English Class Flyer Download (Somali)Adult English Class Flyer Download (Español)Adult English Class Sign Up Link

Naturalization Services

Once clients are ready to start the process of naturalization, Immigration Specialists are available to guide them through the process with cost-effective services. Clients receive assistance with applications, documentation, and filling out the appropriate forms to become eligible for naturalization. Participants also receive ongoing case management and naturalization interview preparation services that support them from intake until oath ceremony. After successful naturalization, the client then has access to services that prepare them to vote and become engaged in the American civic process.

NICE offers citizenship classes that teach civics, American history, English, and interviewing skills to prepare New Americans for the process of becoming a new U.S. citizen. After registration, students are placed into appropriate class groups and receive citizenship instruction twice a week. The program also consists of site-based and class-based civic participation activities and practice USCIS examinations.Classes also include guest speakers along with group and individual tutoring.

Citizenship Class Sign Up LinkCitizenship Class Flyer

Learn English, become familiar with school in the US, get better connected with your teacher, your school and your community.

Join YEA, Youth Empowered to Achieve! This NAZA-funded after school program is only one small component of services offered to the immigrant and refugee communities by Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE). At NICE, our leadership, staff, and volunteers have experience working with people from diverse communities including refugees, asylees, and other immigrants to the United States. Since 2005, NICE has served over 30,000 people from 72 different countries. YEA! will not only help you understand how your school works, but how to be successful in school and life. Through homework support, academic instruction, social emotional learning, and youth leadership opportunities, YEA! Is designed to teach young people to trust in themselves, better understand and act on their emotions, discover their strengths, and leverage those strengths

McMurray Middle School ApplicationMargaret Allen Middle School Application

The mentorship program is a FREE high quality academic and social support service provided to school aged youths by connecting them with a volunteer who will mentor them and provide social and academic enrichment activities to foster learning English, build social skills, and enhance their chances of success in life.

Apply for Mentorship Program

Director of Education | Brandon White brandon@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Manager | Ally Thomas ally@empowernashville.org

Youth Education Associate Manager | Halima Ingabire halima@empowernashville.org

Volunteer and Training Coordinator | Aidan Sullivan aidan@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Student Coordinator | Fozia Mohamed fozia@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Data Specialist | Sophiya Marsani sophiya@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Lead Instructor | Michelle Davenport  michelle@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Lead Instructor | Joey King joey@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Occupational and Training Specialist | Jody Sostrin jody@empowernashville.org

Adult Education Citizenship Instructor| Caroline Davis caroline@empowernashville.org

HiSET Reading and Writing Teacher | JoyceHeil joyce@empowernashville.org

Education Data Coordinator | Jonathan Turner jonathan@empowernashville.org

Youth Mentorship Coordinator | Hanna Mwanse  hanna@empowernashville.org

Youth Education Site Coordinator | Nisha Chetri  nisha@empowernashville.org

Youth Education Program Manager | Rob Manauis Rob@empowernashville.org

Distance Education Coordinator | Emily Behr emilyb@empowernashville.org
Adult Education Staff Teacher List


NICE began its Reception and Placement (R&P) program in 2011. Since that time, the program has developed rapidly, resettling refugees from a variety of nations including: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Somalia and more.

New refugees generally know very little about everyday life in America. Our team welcomes clients at the airport, provides them with a home-cooked meal, and begins to orient them to their new life. We take care of everything refugees need upon arrival, such as finding and furnishing a new home, scheduling initial medical screenings, enrolling in all eligible social services, and registering children for school. NICE’s R&P team is here to break down barriers and ensure that the transition from life as a refugee to a life of self-sufficiency in America goes as smoothly as possible.

Director of Resettlement Services | Chris Linthicum chrisl@empowernashville.org

Reception & Placement Program Manager | Dr. Monte Talley  monte@empowernasville.org

Transportation Manager |  Koang Chol koang@empowernashville.org

Reception and Placement Case Manager | Eric Bishonda eric@empowernashville.org

Reception & Placement Case Manager | Fuad Suleman fuad@empowernashville.org 
Reception & Placement Case Manager | Rayaan Bashir rayaan@empowernashville.org 
Transportation Specialist | Hanan Shaibu hanan@empowernashville.org

Refugee Support Services and Benefits

When refugees arrive in America, they receive monetary assistance from the government to adjust to their new life. That money is rarely enough for a family to exist, and it does not last long.

The NICE Refugee Support Services program focuses on assisting our new neighbors who have been in the United States for less than five years prepare for and obtain employment so they can become self-sufficient. This also includes assistance with transportation and childcare. The RSS Program is currently enrolling clients. For more information, please contact RSS Program Manager Sarah Lonn at sarahl@empowernashville.org
RSS provides the following services:

  • Job exploration support
  • Resume assistance
  • Job application assistance
  • Referral services
  • Job placement and follow up services

We love hearing from new employers who are committed to NICE’s mission of helping our new neighbors not only acclimate to, but thrive in Nashville. In the employment department, we work with refugee/asylee/parolee clients who have been in the United States for less than 5 years, per our funding requirement. Some of our clients have English language skills and job history, but many have neither. It is our responsibility to match our clients with employers who understand the value that a diverse workforce brings to an organization, and who treat our clients with the dignity and respect they deserve. We are committed to ensuring our clients have meaningful employment with employers who are invested in their success. Please refer to the following list of ideal qualities our employer partners possess:

  • $15/hr at least
  • Transportation offered
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Benefits – healthcare/PTO/tuition reimbursement/etc.
  • Education opportunities for clients (ESL, trainings, etc.)

Employment & Cash Assistance Program Manager | Sarah Lonn sarahl@empowernashville.org

Associate Manager of Refugee Support Services | Bhuwan Nepal  bhuwan@empowernashville.org

Match Grant Associate Manager | Mulki Mohamud mulki@empowernashville.org

Match Grant Case Manager | Mohammad Jamshidy mohammad@empowernashville.org

Match Grant Administrative Assistant | Rachel Salley rachels@empowernashville.org

Refugee Benefits Specialist | Baraka Ntibonera baraka@empowernashville.org

Refugee Support Services Case Manager | Emmanual Semahoro  emmanuel@empowernashville.org

Refugee Support Services Case Manager | Karawan Alhamadani karawan@empowernashville.org

Refugee Support Services Case Manager | Wasiq Kohistani wasiq@empowernashville.org

Associate Manager of Employment & Cash Assistance | Elaina Chovanec elaina@empowernashville.org

Uniting for Ukraine Associate Program Manager | Danny Coleman danny@empowernashville.org

Uniting for Ukraine Associate Case Manager | Maren Thompson maren@empowernashville.org

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) is an eight-month, employment-based eligibility program that assists our clients financially while searching for a job. This program also gives our clients access to ESL classes to improve their English abilities.

Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA) is used when our clients do not fit the criteria for TennCare. New arrival refugees can be enrolled for up to eight months. With this program, we are able to ensure that all of our clients have access to medical care in the United States.

The Match Grant program is an alternative option to Refugee Cash Assistance. Through this program, refugees pursue economic and employment stability without using publicly- funded cash assistance. For their first four to six months in America, refugees receive housing and a cash allowance, as well as employment-seeking assistance and case management. Match Grant is designed to help those refugees with higher levels of education find employment quickly, promoting self-sufficiency and reducing the need for government assistance.

Refugee benefits navigation at NICE

  • Supports refugee/asylees who have been here up to 3 years with benefits such as SNAP, Families First, and WIC
  • Ensures that refugees/asylees have the skills to understand, navigate, and use the benefits system independently, to support their families
  • Advocates for Department of Human Services (DHS) to become more responsive to refugee needs


The Health Team assists refugees and immigrants with especially challenging needs. Our goal is to provide linguistically and culturally competent services to clients as they join the Middle Tennessee community.

NICE offers intensive case management services through the Elders and the Preferred Community programs. Case managers assist clients in the following areas: medical and mental health issues, insurance coverage, access to government services, social adjustment services, knowledge of US system and culture, and more.

Clients include elderly refugees, single parent households, survivors of torture, youth and young adults, refugees with physical disabilities, and refugees experiencing psychological difficulties from war and displacement.

Associate Director of Self-Sufficiency | Nadia Rahman nadia@empowernashville.org

Lead Health Case Manager | Timothy Brass timothy@empowernashville.org

Health Case Manager | Kabita Poudel kabita@empowernashville.org


Immigration aims to enable our clients to effectively and efficiently transition into life in Middle Tennessee and beyond. Refugees and immigrants come to America with little or no knowledge of the resources available to them, and it is our goal to empower refugees to integrate into the community by offering services such as:

  • Department of Justice (formerly Board of Immigration Appeals) Accredited Staff
  • Completing and Filing Immigration Forms
  • Interpretation
  • Consultation Services
  • Immigration Case Follow-Up
  • Notary Public

Immigration Services Manager | Aisha White  aisha@empowernashville.org

Immigration Services Associate Manager | Sabine El Khoury sabine@empowernashville.org

Immigration Legal Support Specialist | Charlotte English charlottee@empowernashville.org

Immigration Specialist | Noah Celeste noah@empowernashville.org

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call the front office at 615.315.9681.