History

1914 – The International Institute of the YWCA was organized to “serve the women and girls coming from Europe and the Orient and to assist the foreign communities in their adjustment to life in this country.”

1914-1915 – Met Japanese picture brides at the harbor and helped them in their adjustment.

1921 – Worked with immigrants from Italy.

1922 – National YWCA Department of Immigration and Foreign Born became the national organization for the International Institute.

1924 – Paid $20,000 for property at 435 S. Boyle Avenue. Miss Adeline Frances Wills paid the down payment. Moved a small house onto the property for temporary offices. Built pavilion with canvas walls. Japanese clients donated plants for the garden.

1925 – New and restrictive laws reduced the number of immigrants, and increased the immigration problems and hardships including the separation of immigrant families.

1930 – Widespread lack of employment caused untold misery among immigrants who relied on friends and foreign societies for relief. The YWCA subsidized the institute’s work through the Family Welfare Association.

1932 – During the depression, foreign-born women who received support from the unemployed women’s relief fund and the Associated Teachers’ Fund were assigned to the institute as teachers, club leaders, and clerical help.

1936 – The Council of Social Agencies approved incorporation of the International Institute as an independent agency.

1939 – Celebrated 25 years of service and burned the mortgage papers.

1941 – Held many meetings with leading citizens, organizations, and government officials in an attempt to prevent the evacuation of Japanese Americans.

1944 – Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act brought many applications for citizenship.

1945 – World War II veterans brought wives to this country. Institute workers helped brides understand the changes they faced in the new and different cultural settings.

1948 – Immigration resumed. The Displaced Persons Act allowed refugees from Communist Bloc countries to come to the United States. IILA helped in their adjustment through individual services and group activities.

1953 – East European Project begun by a Ford Foundation grant. Opened branch at 5058 Fountain Avenue for ex-Soviet Displaced Persons and provided vocational counseling, assistance in personal adjustment and social integration.

1956 – Freedom Fighters of the Hungarian Revolution were resettled in the Los Angeles area. Helped with housing, employment, relief, and social adjustment.

1962 – Developed Cuban Refugees Project following upheaval in Cuba.

1968 – First survey made of problems in Chinatown and little Tokyo. Led to the creation of the first Asian Service Center in the United States.

1971 – A federally funded project, Model Cities, provided funds to serve immigrants in Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and Cypress Park. Founded One-Stop Immigration Center.

1972 – Headquarters for government-funded Chicana Service Center, the first Mexican-American women’s organization.

1974 – Expansion of services in Van Nuys at United Way Building and West Valley Counseling Center in Canoga Park.

1974 – Nutrition program for the Older New American, funded by the California State Office on Aging, provided nutritious meals, social service information, referral and socialization for low-income senior citizens in East Los Angeles.

1975 – Development of Van Nuys office to serve increasing number of Arabic-speaking immigrants in the area.

1975 – Began resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles area in coordination with American Council for Nationalities Service and International Rescue Committee.

1976 – Initiated the Family Child Care program and established the first Child Care Center in City Terrace with 24 children.

1977 – IILA initiated a federally funded supportive social services program for new refugees.

1978 – Opened the International Senior Multipurpose Center.

1980 – Began refugee employment services in San Gabriel Valley.

1982 – Opened the Aliso Pico Multipurpose Center to serve the families living in the Aliso Pico Housing Projects.

1983 – Established an Armenian Business Development and Training Center, a joint project with the Armenian Evangelical Social Services Center.

1986 – Immigration Reform and Control Act signed into law, creating the legalization program and employer sanctions. IILA launches program to assist thousands to apply for legalization.

1993 – The Immediate Needs Transportation Program was initiated to provide transportation services to people in need in the wake of the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992.

IILA CEO Lavinia Limon accepts appointment in newly-elected Clinton administration as director of U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. E. Stephen Voss named to replace Ms. Limon.

1994 – Opened El Rinconcito del Sol, an Alzheimer’s adult respite care program.

1994 – Fresno and Merced offices opened for Hmong refugee resettlement.

1995 – Opened door-to-door lift van transportation program for frail elderly.

1996 – The institute acquired new building, moved headquarters and childcare administrative offices to 3845 Selig Place in Lincoln Heights.

1997 – Annual budget grew to $10 million, nearly doubling budget of 1992. Staff numbered 150.

1998 – Launched $1 million job development program for people with limited English skills.

1999 – Nutrition Program prepared and delivered 700,000 meals to low-income children.

2000 – Boyle office was rehabbed, budget grew to $15 million, and staff grew to 175. Over 150 United Way Day of Caring volunteers painted newly rehabbed Boyle office. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum spoke at IILA.

2001 – Acquired two new properties at the corner of Beverly and Union streets: duplex apartments for temporary housing for refugees and a commercial kitchen for Child Nutrition Program. IILA awarded Cal WORKS childcare contract.

2002 – Don Dollries & Al Ross staff scholarship program adopted. IILA was prominently featured in the Japanese-American National Museum’s exhibit: Boyle Heights: Power of Place.

2003 – IILA launched new school readiness initiative called First 5 LA.

2004/2005 – IILA secured three citizenship grants. Hmong refugees admitted in large numbers to U.S. IILA opened offices in Fresno and Merced to resettle over 1,000 newcomers. IILA annual budget reached $23 million (one thousand times the budget in 1933!)

Provide travel vouchers to City departments to assist them in re-locating victims displaced to Los Angeles by Hurricane Katrina.

New citizenship programs begun, funded by the State and Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Began initial outreach to assist victims of Human Trafficking.

2007 – IILA’s Chief Executive Officer elected Chair of the Board of the Los Angeles County Childcare Alliance. Landmark Immigration Reform bill fails to pass both houses after lengthy and heated debates.

2008 – Began Refugee Employment Program funded at over $1 million by LA County to place refugees in jobs. Hired 25 new staff and opened new office in Glendale.

Initiated Refugee Healthy Families program with grant from our national office – US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Refugees from Iraq war began arriving in greater numbers.

Began TEAM Program, funded by the State CPUC, to educate limited English proficient residents on telephone scams.

Broke ground on construction of new Child Nutrition industrial kitchen at our Selig headquarters, expected to increase our production capacity. Added several new nutrition centers to a total of 36 centers, and served over 1 million meals.

Opened three new childcare facilities, all rent-free contracts.

First African American President, Barak Obama, elected.

Closed Nutrition Homes Program.

Three new members joined the IILA Board of Directors.

2008 – 2012 The U.S. suffered the most severe financial crisis in decades, resulting in massive bailouts of corporations. California suffers a protracted $42 billion deficit, resulting in many months of gridlock and freeze in payments to agencies contracted with the State, including IILA. In the succeeding years IILA advocated against attempts to completely eliminate various social safety net programs in California, including the entire welfare program “Cal WORKS” and In-Home Supportive Services, and severe cuts to childcare and Seniors’ services.

Great increase in closure of local social service agencies due to government funding cuts.

2009 – IILA recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives and the California State Assembly for its work in childcare.

Former IILA Vice President Eskinder Negash appointed Director of U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement in Obama administration.

After producing 11 million child meals, IILA sold its Beverly/Union kitchen and two-flat apartment building and launched construction of state-of-the art commercial kitchen at our Selig headquarters, opening in 11/09.

Governor proposes complete elimination of State welfare program. IILA testifies and advocates in opposition.

2010 – Conducted Immunization Outreach to our childcare clients.

Conducted “re-branding” of IILA image – new logo, tag line, letter head, website

Sold second of two properties at the corner of Beverly/Union streets having produced some 11 child meals from that kitchen.

2011 – After 17 years closed adult day care program – “El Rinconcito del Sol” due to elimination of City funding.

Received grant for Post Release Services to help undocumented minors across the U.S. in need of legal and social services.

Opened “evidence-based” programs to assist seniors with management of chronic diseases.

Arrivals of refugees in the U.S. grind to a near halt.

Launched services for victims of human trafficking.

Secured national grant to assist refugees with opening a “microenterprise” for their in-home childcare businesses.

Launched citizenship classes for elderly refugees in Glendale

2012 – Funded by South Bay Workforce Investment Board to place low income clients in jobs.

Re-elected National Chair, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Standing Committee.

President Barak Obama elected for second term. Economy remains in deep recession.

2013 – Economic downturn in California persists – culminates in the elimination of $1.2 billion in state funds for early child care and education programs – and loss of more than 11,200 spaces between 2008 and 2011- the biggest reduction in child care services in more than six decades. IILA suffers unprecedented funding cuts and begins to retrench.

Families in Schools, an offshoot of First 5 Los Angeles, awards IILA $50,000 to support our work in our commercial kitchen as a “Social Enterprise.”

The SCAN Foundation awards $50,000 to supplement the cost of meals for seniors.

Secured a new small grant to Reduce Obesity in Childcare Settings.

After years of search for a tenant, began to rent section of Selig Place headquarters first floor space to Para Los Niños, securing $304,000 rental income over next 5 years.

IILA doubles the size of its Post Placement program.

Selected to take over childcare services at Estrada Courts

Begin services to undocumented youth who benefitted from Presidential deferred action (DACA)



2014 – Celebrated Agency Centennial. Secured contract from State of California to provide legal representation to Central American youth.

2015 – After many years of deliberation, transitioned IILA’s Seniors Program to Mexican American Opportunity Foundation. Funded to re-start Healthy Marriages contract to support refugee married couples. IILA leads the entire national USCRI network in submission of petitions to reunite Central American youth with their relatives residing here. IILA networks extensively with Central American consulates and enjoys extensive Spanish-language media coverage of our services to Central American Youth