Dr. Erin Kim-Cho Presents Research at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

June 3, 2024

Dr. Erin Kim-Cho, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Practice, will be presenting her research at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) at Princeton University, New Jersey, on June 4 and 5.

Her work was part of a research initiative by the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition (PIF) to learn more about the needs and assets of local immigrant communities in Des Moines and Iowa City. With funding from RWJF, the project how the establishment of local collaborative tables in key communities could improve immigrant families’ access to safety net programs.

Dr. Kim-Cho led the Iowa research team, with support from the Urban Institute, as part of her role as Director of Research and Evaluation for Refugee and Immigrant Voices in Action (RIVA), a grassroots coalition-building organization founded and led by refugees and immigrants. RIVA will share a summary of Dr. Kim-Cho’s research later this summer.

Des Moines was one of only three metro areas, along with Atlanta and Philadelphia, chosen for the research initiative. The goal was to learn how different types of organizations in the community support immigrant families and what it would take to strengthen collaborations across organizations to improve immigrant family access to programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, housing assistance, and food stamps.

The project included desk research to understand local demographics and organizational structures, focus groups with members of immigrant families in multiple languages, and interviews with local leaders from a wide range of sectors.

Dr. Kim-Cho’s research revealed communication gaps among state and county government agencies, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and immigrant and refugee community members. Her findings will inform efforts to close those gaps through more effective and sustainable collaboration – which should ultimately improve immigrant families’ access to services crucial to their health and well-being.