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Sub-Saharan African Youth and Family Services in MN (SAYFSM)

Cause Area

  • Crisis Support
  • Health & Medicine
  • Homeless & Housing
  • Immigrants & Refugees
  • Women


1885 University Avenue West, Ste. 297Saint Paul, MN 55104 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement


To provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health education and social services to African immigrants and refugees.


  1. Promote activities that positively impact the health of the African community, and

  1. Provide African immigrants and refugees with the education, support, and resources they need to reach their full potential.


Sub-Saharan African Youth & Family Services in Minnesota (SAYFSM) is a human service agency serving African immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. It was established in 2002 and received 501 (c) 3 status in 2003. The agency was founded to fill a gap in services provided to African immigrants and refugees, providing African-born men, women, and children living in the Twin Cities with professional, community-based, culturally competent programs. The agency uses models of service unique to the agency or adapted to the culture, language, and customs of African immigrants and refugees.


Represent 20 African countries and Trinidad.

  • Are Christian, Muslim, and followers of traditional beliefs.
  • Speak many languages. (Seven of these languages are spoken by SAYFSM staff.)
  • Live below the poverty line.
  • Are often illiterate.
  • Many live in isolation.

OUTREACH: SAYFSM educates tens of thousands in the African-born community about HIV prevention and risk reduction. We make presentations at community events, in small group settings at ESL classes, churches, youth gatherings, and to groups of newly resettled refugees. SAYFSM has developed television and radio programs, dramas, and written materials to effectively reach the general African-born population.

HIV/AIDS SUPPORT GROUP: SAYFSM facilitates a support group for African immigrants and refugees living with HIV. Trained, culturally competent facilitators foster a supportive environment and provide participants with education that empowers them to take care of themselves, disclose their status to their partners and community, and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Generally, 18 to 20 individuals are present at each meeting.

CARE ADVOCACY: SAYFSM provides assistance with basic needs, such as housing, furniture, household items, food, clothing, employment; referrals to clinics, mental health providers, legal services, ESL classes; translation and interpreting; and transportation to appointments and SAYFSM activities. One full-time staff member provides care advocacy for those individuals needing one-time or short-term help. In 2010, care advocacy was delivered to 118 individuals: 31 men, 48 women, 12 teens, and 27 children.

MEDICAL CASE MANAGEMENT: SAYFSM provides medical case management to meet the needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS who need longer-term, intensive support. The case managers conduct risk assessments and create care plans to address client needs. They help clients access health services and promote quality health outcomes, empowering them with education about HIV/AIDS, treatment, and medication options. In 2010, 33 individuals received case management through SAYFSM. An additional 12 individuals received case management services elsewhere, but preferred to come to SAYFSM case managers for some of their needs.

WOMEN’S SELF-SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM: Women attend sewing classes and receive education about HIV/AIDS and other health topics. They are empowered to take control of their lives, boosting their self-esteem, and improving their mental and physical health. Women graduate with the ability to sew for themselves and seek employment. In 2010, an advanced-level class was offered for the first time. This class allows women who have completed the first class to continue developing their sewing skills.

IJOLE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM: Ijole, the Oromo word for "children," is for African-born community children. Through Ijole, SAYFSM encourages immigrant parents to take a more active role in their children’s lives by inviting them to participate in quality activities with their children, their children’s peers, and parents. The children and their families have field trip opportunities to cultural, educational, and recreational venues. 24 children and 12 teens participated in the program in 2010.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING: A licensed psychologist provides counseling services in the SAYFSM office for individuals infected with or impacted by HIV. Clients are on a waiting list for this counseling service and SAYFSM is looking for ways to expand this service.


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