The International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit (IIMD) was founded in 1919 by a group of YWCA volunteers, who sought to help legal immigrants learn English, appreciate freedom and democracy, become citizens, be assimilated into their new communities, and learn to understand each other's cultures. The International Institute has been accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals, since 1958. In 1990, The Institute was accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Service for Families and Children, Inc., and Institute caseworkers periodically host social work conferences for associated agencies.

The Institute has a vast collection of ethnic and cultural artifacts which are on display for visitors to enjoy. 1) the Hall of Nations, which houses flags from 82 countries; display cases that house the Ethel Averback International Doll Collection, the world's largest collection of dolls dressed in native costumes (over 2,500 dolls) from 84 countries; and other ethnic displays and artifacts, and 2) the American Room, which houses the Wilkinson Model Ship Collection - 165 scale models of ships on which immigrants came to the United States of America, as well as paintings, posters and more.

The Immigration Services Department has accomplished in the past year:

  • 2,500 individuals called the Institute for immigration assistance and referrals.
  • 1,100 individuals received legal immigration assistance.
  • 3 to 5 law students were provided intern positions with the Immigration Services Department.

Citizenship Classes:

  • 255 individuals went through the Institutes' Citizenship Classes.
  • 2,500 individuals participated in one of the three swearing in ceremonies conducted by the Institute.

Cultural and Ethnic Presentations:

  • 31,152 adults received presentations about Cultural Awareness, Global Learning, Ethnic Enrichment, and Cultural Performances.
  • 14,541 children received presentations at their school or on site at the Institute Cultural Awareness, Global Learning, Ethnic Enrichment, and Cultural Performances.

Jobs Program

  • More than 200 adults received assistance in finding employment and in personal financial management skills


  • 500 individuals participated in Foreign Language, English as a Second Language, Financial Literacy Classes.
  • 5,000 individuals attended the 3 day International Festival, which showcases dance, music, food, art, crafts, and performances from different ethnic cultures from around the world.
  • Mexican DancersMexican Dancers