Many African national and ethnic populations have created associations that cater to their respective groups. In the Philadelphia area, there are now more than forty such associations. Community associations recreate a familiar atmosphere for socializing and mutual aid. They may also assist newcomers in locating housing, employment, and social services, and a few have schools and summer courses that teach the community's language and culture to the second generation.
The first association to seek and obtain non-profit (501(c)3) status in Philadelphia was the Ethiopian Community Association of Greater Philadelphia. Incorporated since 1984, the ECAGP has been very successful in providing services to its membership and in collaborating with other ethnic communities in Philadelphia on a number of programs. The Ethiopian Association also has a community center, as do the Sudanese Society of Greater Philadelphia and the Eritrean Community of Philadelphia, where members may meet and organize activities.
Although a source of help and comfort to African immigrants, community associations, especially those based upon ethnic criteria, may serve to recreate divisions present in home countries. Recognizing this danger, some community associations, including a new Sierra Leonean one, are seeking to forge a sense of unity among immigrants from the same country. Leaders wish to avoid the replication of divisive relationships in their Philadelphia communities.