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Welcome.US creates platform giving displaced people support, hope, and choice


Weeks to launch Welcome Connect platform


Found refuge in the U.S. in first nine months


Conversations between beneficiaries and sponsors in first nine months

Bringing hope to people in crisis 

Russian’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 displaced millions. For most, their needs were simple—safety, warmth, food, and hope for a better future. Time was critical. A solution couldn’t take years or months—it had to happen in weeks. Six weeks. It needed engineers who work on some of the most complex problems. And it needed an effective platform on which to build the world’s first humanitarian aid platform. Some of the greatest minds at Goldman Sachs and ServiceNow answered the call.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, the U.S. Government launched ‘Uniting for Ukraine’, providing a designated pathway for displaced Ukrainians to find refuge in the United States. The program requires displaced Ukrainians to have a sponsor in the United States, which can be anyone who is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, nonprofit, educational institution, or an employer.

Diaspora communities were among the first to sponsor their loved ones, but there were tens of thousands seeking safety in the United States who had no way to connect with a sponsor—and many Americans standing by to provide this lifeline. The challenge was how to safely and efficiently connect Ukrainian families with potential sponsors. Welcome.US knew a technology solution could help bridge this gap—and they turned to partners Goldman Sachs, ServiceNow, and Infosys.

Connecting in a safe environment 
Welcome.US is a nonprofit organization that was first launched to empower non-traditional actors to support the resettlement of more than 80,000 Afghans in the United States following the U.S. departure from Kabul in August 2021. Within days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its remit was expanded. In collaboration with Goldman Sachs, Welcome.US set out to build the capacity needed to support Ukrainian newcomers by recruiting and mobilizing 100,000 Americans to welcome displaced Ukrainians to the United States.

Welcome.US was determined to create a safe space for both sponsors and beneficiaries to meet, avoiding the unregulated and often dangerous online forums that they would otherwise have to use.

The result was Welcome Connect, an easy-to-use connection platform where Ukrainians and potential sponsors in the U.S. can find and message back and forth in their native language, build relationships, and make informed decisions about their futures.

“Ukrainians seeking safety are extremely vulnerable, so it was essential that we provided a secure environment for them and their sponsors to come together,” explains Welcome.US CEO, Nazanin Ash.

“There are many things about the Welcome Connect platform that make it special, and one that is truly unique. We’re all immensely proud of the fact that, thanks to Welcome Connect, we were able to create a platform where displaced people have the opportunity to choose where they go next.”

Building trusted relationships
“From the outset there were many people at Goldman Sachs who wanted to help, in any way, shape, or form,” explains Luc Teboul, Partner & Global Head of Application Development Engineering for Transaction Banking at Goldman Sachs. 

"There was an understanding that this would need to go far beyond financial support, as important as that is. We began to think of the practical considerations of how we could help, as well as the unique challenges the situation presented.

“In those conversations with Welcome.US they expressed a desire to build a platform that would connect people from the United States and Ukraine—and serve as a foundation that they could leverage to respond to other situations down the line. Based on the engineering work our team does every day, we felt this was something we could help with, so we raised our hands to help.” 

Goldman Sachs identified ServiceNow as a partner and technology platform that could help bring this solution to life. 

“Goldman Sachs brought in ServiceNow based on their existing relationship,” recalls Jenny Raymond, Senior Advisor for Program Technology and Innovation at Welcome.US. “They provided engineering leadership and helped facilitate our relationship with ServiceNow, which continues to this day.” 

Within weeks, Welcome Connect, built on the Now platform, was uniting thousands of Ukrainians with American sponsors.

Darren Rice, ServiceNow Account Manager, remembers how the project came to be: “When I got the call, I knew immediately that our company would want to get completely behind this effort. We didn’t hesitate to donate the necessary technology and time to make this happen, applying our skills at high speed to support our partners.”

With Welcome Connect, potential sponsors and beneficiaries have access to resources and guidance on the sponsorship process, how to use the platform, build a profile, and begin conversing with each other. Beneficiaries are given the power to choose who to connect with, assessing the suitability of a potential sponsorship arrangement in an inclusive, confidential environment, where all participants’ data is fully protected. Once a sponsorship offer has been accepted, both parties proceed by submitting an application to the U.S. Government’s ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ program, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

WelcomeUS logo right
Washington, D.C.
Goldman Sachs

The commitment shown by our partners was so inspiring, with teams working around the clock to develop this platform and meet an urgent need.

Nazanin Ash


Dynamic translation ensures natural communication
The use of dynamic language translation helps to ensure that communication is streamlined and natural, and an enabler rather than a barrier. ServiceNow deployed user testing, storyboarding, and capability mapping to co-create a tailor-made solution on the low-code ServiceNow App Engine, with concept to launch achieved in just six weeks. 

Crucially, the portal is built with App Engine and is fully optimized so mobile users can access the complete range of capabilities, vital given the circumstances of many Ukrainians living in limbo and having been forced to leave their belongings behind. Another key feature of Welcome Connect is that it inherits much needed capabilities from the Now Platform in a Platform-as-a-Service model. That means security, scalability, and the software development lifecycle (SDLC) are built in. This eliminated the need for Welcome.US to manage the platform infrastructure, and minimized the technical skills required to maintain and evolve it, which was essential for the Welcome.US team.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of product development in the humanitarian space,” explains Jenny. “I’ve never seen something come together so successfully, so quickly, and so efficiently. 

“Putting beneficiaries in the driving seat, empowering them to reach out, connect, and make their own decision has been at the very core of what we wanted to achieve. We had unconditional support from our three key partners, Goldman Sachs, ServiceNow, and Infosys, to co-create the platform to meet this fundamental objective—it was a dream experience.” 

And the partnership between Welcome.US and ServiceNow did not stop with the launch of the platform. Welcome.US receives continued support via ServiceNow Impact, a first-of-its-kind value acceleration solution. Built on the Now Platform, it combines expert coaching, customized insights and recommendations, premium technical support, role-based training, and curated content, all delivered in a personalized digital experience.

“Once we had launched, ServiceNow Impact provided daily support and advice about how we could make improvements and extend the reach of Welcome Connect. That has been such a critical and positive part of our experience in moving the platform forward. ServiceNow Impact has walked with us arm-in-arm through the process, providing leadership around best practices, making sure we’re doing everything in the most efficient and effective way, and avoiding risks. We speak with our Impact squad multiple times every week, they are incredibly knowledgeable and forward-thinking, and their strategic advice is invaluable,” says Jenny. 

Giving displaced people the right to choose
For Nazanin, Welcome Connect is providing a transformative experience for Ukrainians and Americans alike. “Refugee resettlement is usually a long, protracted, and complex process that can take years, even decades. There are over 32 million refugees in the world, only 1% of which will ever become eligible for resettlement.

“The commitment shown by our partners was so inspiring, with teams working around the clock to develop this platform, to give beneficiaries and sponsors nearly everything they need, in one place. The sensitivity, care, and expertise that the team has brought to this project has been outstanding. We could only outline what we wanted, they were the ones that made it happen.”

In the first nine months since Welcome Connect launched, thousands of Ukrainian beneficiaries have been sponsored by Americans through the platform and more than 13,000 potential sponsors have registered.

When the Department of Homeland Security announced new humanitarian sponsorship programs in early 2023, ServiceNow expanded the platform’s template, tailoring it to meet the needs of the newly eligible populations in Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, by implementing additional dynamic language translation capability in Spanish and Haitian Creole.

Enabling once-in-a-generation impact
"I often reflect on how my own life could have been so different had my family not been welcomed to the United States,” Nazanin shares. “So I have spent my professional life looking to remove the barriers to people achieving their potential and living their dreams, whether that relates to race, religion, gender, or geography.

“I have complete faith in our rich tapestry of American communities. Our mission at Welcome.US is to unleash the power and potential of those communities, to tap into their capacity and to create a national ability to respond to crises like that in Ukraine. 

“We’re offering Americans an opportunity to directly change someone’s life, to provide a lifeline that has generational impact, and Welcome Connect is the very practical tool that makes that possible.”

Changing lives
Nazanin adds that, as well as increasing the number of newcomers being welcomed to the United States, she is just as keen to demonstrate that the act of welcoming is as transformative as being welcomed. 

“Sponsoring changes the lives of all those involved and brings communities together in divided times. It reinspires our communities around core American values, being a place that stands up for people seeking freedom, where there are opportunities for everyone. 

“The personal stories coming out of this program are truly remarkable, constantly inspiring, and revealing our common humanity. We feel we are building a movement of openness and pride in welcoming newcomers. Because of the commitment of our partners, we’re united in our efforts to expand these pathways as quickly as possible.” 

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