On April 12, 2001, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina established the UNCG Center for New North Carolinians to “provide research, training, and evaluation for the state of North Carolina in addressing immigrant issues; collaboration with government and social organizations to enhance responsiveness to immigrant needs; and community support to provide training and workshops.”

This new center grew out of a “Task Force on Outreach to New North Carolinians” created by UNCG Chancellor Patricia Sullivan in September of 1997 in response to the major influx of immigrants who were settling in North Carolina. Beginning in the early nineties, large numbers of Hispanic/Latinos began settling in North Carolina to work in factories, construction, and agribusiness, joining Latino migrant workers who were already here as seasonal agricultural workers plus immigrants and refugees from other parts of the world who had started coming in larger numbers in the eighties. The task force was comprised of faculty, staff, and community representatives. They determined that these newest North Carolinians must have greater access to education, medical and social services, and job training. They recommended to the chancellor that a center be established to address these challenges, and the chancellor forwarded this recommendation to the UNC Board of Governors for action.

Chancellor Sullivan petitioned the UNC Board of Governors and President Molly Broad to establish a unique Center that would be a resource to the State of North Carolina and its higher education system. The Board approved this request.

The Center is designed to enhance the UNCG historic commitment to special populations. Faculty and students from all parts of UNCG and other universities in the North Carolina state higher education system are welcome to participate in its projects.

The Center began with its first director as Dr. Raleigh Bailey, Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Social Work, and subsumed pre-existing programs of the ACCESS Program (Accessing Cross-Cultural Education Service Systems) that were already housed in the Department of Social Work under his direction. ACCESS began in 1994 with the AmeriCorps ACCESS Project. The AmeriCorps ACCESS Project, a domestic peace corps national service initiative funded by the federal government and local partners, has had as its mission, providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to refugee and immigrant communities in North Carolina. The AmeriCorps members (participants) who provide a year of service to North Carolina immigrant communities and receive training in cross cultural human services, include both immigrants and native born residents. About 60 people per year currently complete a year of service with the AmeriCorps ACCESS Project. Another initiative, the Interpreter ACCESS Project has provided professional interpreter training to interpreters across the state. The Immigrant Health ACCESS Project has provided cross cultural health services to immigrants in Guilford County. This collection of projects formed the initial core of the new Center activities. Those projects have been supplemented with additional outreach, research, and training activities to expand the range of Center activities as it fulfills it mission.