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Nationalities Service Center prepares and empowers immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia region to transcend challenging circumstances by providing comprehensive client-centered services to build a solid foundation for a self-sustaining and dignified future.
In the early twentieth century, International Institutes were established in 55 cities across the United States. Originally founded as the International Institute of Philadelphia as part of this growing movement, Nationalities Service Center (NSC) was started in 1921 to assist immigrant women in acquiring language proficiency and gaining citizenship. During its initial years, the organization provided English language instruction, recreational activities, and assistance with employment and housing problems. As the landscape of immigration changed with legislation such as the 1924 Quota Act and the movement of displaced people after the world wars, NSC began connecting immigrants to appropriate legal assistance and serving both women and their families.
Since its founding, NSC has expanded and transformed to meet the changing and increasingly complex needs of immigrants and refugees. Despite programmatic and structural changes, NSC’s dedication to serving all immigrants and refugees and the philosophy of providing comprehensive services in one location have remained the same for 95 years. Since our establishment, NSC has never wavered from our founding commitment to assist all newcomers with building a solid foundation for a self-sustaining and dignified future.
Today, NSC serves 5,000 immigrants and refugees each year from over 100 countries around the world. We are the largest non-sectarian organization in the Greater Philadelphia area which provides comprehensive services in the areas of language access and proficiency, legal protections and remedies, community transition and integration, access to health and wellness, and job readiness training to immigrants and refugees. Each of our clients has a unique story and a complex journey to Philadelphia, and we serve clients who have been tortured, raped, beaten, ritually mutilated, ostracized from their own community because of curable health conditions, held captive themselves or have been forced to watch helplessly as members of their own family were afforded the same treatment. As the needs of the vulnerable people we serve have become more complex, the services at NSC have evolved and expanded to meet those needs with dignity and compassionate for every individual who walks through our doors. Our long history of adaptability in the face of social and legal change has readied us to meet the challenges facing immigrants and refugees in the years to come and to continue as part of a U.S. tradition of freedom and opportunity.