Exodus is dedicated to the protection of human rights. The organization serves the resettlement needs of refugees and other displaced people fleeing persecution, injustice, and war by welcoming them to Indiana. Exodus is the largest refugee resettlement agency in Indiana.

Exodus was founded in 1981 to meet the needs of Cuban refugees who had arrived in Indiana as a result of the Mariel boatlift, a mass emigration from Cuba that occurred in 1980. In April of that year, Fidel Castro had opened the Port of Mariel to reduce tensions in Cuba. This gave the citizens a chance to escape the country’s political repression and depressed economic situation. The Mariel Boatlift lasted for six months, during which time approximately 125,000 Cuban refugees reached the United States. By August 1980, volunteers from numerous Indianapolis churches sponsored 30 Cuban refugees to help them make a new life in America. The refugees arrived through the Church World Services program, an organization that responds to global hunger, poverty, displacement, and disaster. The work addressed a critical need for incoming refugees and led to the establishment of Exodus Refugee Immigration.

In 1993, Exodus became a private nonprofit, nonsectarian organization with 501(c)(3) status. Since its founding, Exodus has helped thousands of refugees and other humanitarian immigrants from more than 50 countries establish new lives in Central Indiana. In 2022, Exodus opened a second office in Bloomington, Indiana, to help welcome even more refugees to Indiana.

Because of Exodus’s work, Central Indiana has a growing population of refugees from many different countries. Refugees have come from Burma (or Myanmar), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine, among others.

When refugees arrive in Indiana, Exodus meets them at the airport and provides housing and case management for the first 90 days after arrival. This support includes helping clients access medical appointments, use public transportation, apply for benefits, and more. Exodus also provides education for newly arrived refugees, including cultural orientation classes, financial literacy training, and employment readiness training.

Refugees can continue to receive services for up to five years after their date of arrival in the United States. Exodus provides English classes and employment services to clients to help them on the path to self-sufficiency. Exodus also has a youth program, women’s program, mental wellness program, legal services program, health promotions program, and intensive case management program for clients who require additional assistance adjusting to life in the United States.

In addition to serving refugees who arrive through the U.S. State Department resettlement process, Exodus can provide services to asylees, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, Haitian and Cuban entrants, and other humanitarian immigrants.

In 2022, Exodus Refugee Immigration’s staff of 70 employees resettled 586 people from nine countries to Central Indiana.

Revised November 2023

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