“This initiative aims to share Canada’s experience and support the adoption of similar models in other countries. The ultimate goal is to increase refugee protection by mobilizing the compassion that exists in communities around the world.”
Jennifer Bond, University of Ottawa

About the GRSI

The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative works to assist and inspire countries around the world to open new pathways for refugee protection. We do this by sharing Canada’s history, experience, and leadership in private sponsorship and by supporting the creation of new programs that countries design to meet their unique needs. Through our work with local organizers, we aim to:

  • Increase refugee resettlement opportunities and improve refugee integration outcomes by engaging governments, community groups, individuals, philanthropists, and businesses in resettlement efforts; 
  • Strengthen local host communities that come together to welcome newcomers; and
  • Promote welcoming and inclusive societies and improve the narrative about refugees and other newcomers.

Our Partners

The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) is a joint initiative led by the Government of Canada; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the Open Society Foundations; The Giustra Foundation; The Shapiro Foundation, and the University of Ottawa.


September 2016 The GRSI was announced in New York City on the margins of the UN and US Refugee Summits.
December 2016 The GRSI was formally launched in Ottawa, Canada during international consultations with close to 100 participants from 10 countries.
June 2017 The GRSI participated in UNHCR’s Annual Tripartite consultations on Resettlement in Geneva and launched its official website (release). During these Geneva events, the GRSI initiated global consultations for its policy design Guidebook.
September 2017 The GRSI officially launched the Guidebook at the 2017 Concordia Summit and celebrated sponsorship advancements in 5 countries (release).
July 2018 Ministers from Canada, the UK, Ireland, Argentina, Spain, and New Zealand underscored their support for community sponsorship in advance of the 2018 UN General Assembly and agreement on the Global Compact on Refugees (release).
November 2018 The GRSI co-organized global, multi-day workshops for 40 civil society sponsorship champions in London, England.
December 2018 States were encouraged to work with the GRSI in the newly-affirmed The Global Compact on Refugees (GCR).
November 2019  The GRSI launched its “Foundations of Community Sponsorship”, a set of universal and customizable sponsor training materials.
December 2019 6 Ministers underlined their support for community sponsorship at the first Global Refugee Forum and announce the launch of the GRSI States Network, co-chaired by Canada and the UK (release).
July 2020 The GRSI convened a high-level dialogue on sponsorship, resettlement, and complementary pathways. The event featured a pledge from the European Commission to continue financing sponsorship projects, a commitment from Canada to welcome an additional 500 refugees through labour pathways, and other statements of support from other governments, private sector leaders, sponsors, and a sponsored refugee.
February 2021 The GRSI released the Policy Design Workbook to help guide policymakers and community leaders seeking to establish refugee sponsorship programs.
April 2021 Together with the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the GRSI brought together speakers from various governments, academia, philanthropy, and civil society to reaffirm commitments to growing community sponsorship in Europe.

Kids and globe
Photo provided by the Giustra Foundation