Real Life

Supporting refugee and
immigrant youth in Utah

Real Life continues to support many refugee and immigrant students in gaining essential life skills.  During the 2021-2022 school year, Real Life served at twelve welcome centers and directly influenced over 400 youth from low-income families.  Real Life utilizes 120+ Real Life interns and volunteers.

We are grateful to our community partners for helping make Real Life possible.  Real Life partnered with Promise South Salt Lake, Refugee Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, Umoja Generation, Project Access, Salt Lake City School District, and Granite School District.

Real Life interns and volunteers administered curriculum based on financial literacy, career & college readiness, communication, civic engagement, social and cultural activities, physical and emotional health, STEM, and art expression. Interns and volunteers also provided Real Life students with one hour of homework help each day.  Real Life also piloted a new curriculum: music therapy (thank you to Scott & Kristi Phillips for helping make that happen). There was improvement in every core subject among youth due to our programming.

In the wake of the pandemic, Real Life experienced a return to a new normal with eleven of twelve sites meeting fully in-person as well as a return to the expected volunteer numbers. The ongoing situation with COVID-19 continued to require the flexibility of volunteers, interns, and staff as Real Life experienced unexpected school and site closures. In addition, Real Life faced challenges due to the ongoing labor shortage as Real Life partners experienced the strain of finding adequate staffing for partnering sites.  

Real Life is dedicated, more than ever, in providing necessary services and growing with our mission to support refugee and immigrant youth in gaining essential life skills.  As a result, Real Life continues to improve lessons, increasing curriculum quality, ESL friendliness and active learning components.

Melissa Pearson

Melissa Pearson

Real Life Director

Real Life Annual Report


“As a refugee, I understand the adversities that come from adjusting to a new culture, being the odd one, and usually the first to pioneer into the daunting frontier. Having people who are willing to take your hand and walk you through the journey makes all the difference in the world. My family and I have been greatly blessed by the efforts of the International Rescue Committee, Catholic Community Services, the United Nations, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I understand how impactful compassion and service are and the Real Life Program is an incredible opportunity for me to serve and give back to the community that has given me so much.”


Real Life Intern, 2019 Real Life Scholarship Winner,
2020 YHA Finalist, 2021 Service year Participant

Real Life

Need-based scholarships honoring Real Life high school seniors and college students of refugee or immigrant background

In May of 2022, Youthlinc again offered a need-based college scholarship to Real Life High School Seniors or College students of refugee or immigrant background.  The following scholarships were awarded: 

·         (1) $5,000 scholarship 

·         (2) $3,000 scholarships 

·         (2) $2,500 scholarships 

·         (2) $2,000 scholarships 

·         (4) $1,500 scholarships  

$5,000 Winner
Divine Mutoni

$3,000 Winner
Pamela Shindano

$3,000 Winner
Sifa Mwangaza

$2,500 Winner
Nazanin Shahidi

$2,500 Winner
Divine Nyiramugisha

$2,000 Winner
Niyat Aregay

$2,000 Winner
Nyirabanyoro (Sifa) Renzaho

$1,500 Winner
Aasutosh Acharya

$1,500 Winner
Axel Ulises Francisco

$1,500 Winner
Ornela Masanka

$1,500 Winner
Silvia (Ferny) Torres

Thank you

2021-22 Donations to Real Life Programming 

DIAMOND LEVEL $20,000 + 

·         Synchrony Bank 

·         Merrick Bank 


·         Sorenson Legacy Foundation 

·         American Express 

·          Low Family Foundation 

·         Dominion Energy 

GOLD LEVEL $2,000 + 

·         UBS Bank USA 

·         Barker Charitable Foundation 

·         Ashton Family Foundation 


·         Lawrence T. and Janet T. Dee Foundation 

·         McCarthey Family Foundation 

·         Finwise Bank 

·         Walmart Charitable Giving 

·         First Utah Bank 

·         Jesse and Marilyn Peck Foundation 

·         Scott and Kristi Phillips 

·         Richard and Shirley Hemingway Foundation 

SILVER LEVEL $1,500 and under 

·         Washington Federal Foundation 

·          Douglas J. and Geneva H. Fife Foundation 

·         Rocky Mountain Power Foundation