Partnering on Corporate Days of Service

Partnerships with employers beyond job placements are a strategic way to maintain and grow business relationships. Businesses support refugee resettlement programs through employee giving, event sponsorship, donations, and grants, but did you know that many firms also sponsor employee volunteer days? Many companies offer their employees 1 to 3 days per year to go out into the community and provide volunteer service.  For example, TripAdvisor allows their employees to take up to five days of paid leave to volunteer their time and skills at any nonprofit organization, including those working with refugees. Before reaching out to an employer with a proposal, Higher recommends that refugee programs prepare a list and description of short-term volunteer roles that would be appropriate for such an event. When providing options, be mindful of corporate preferences such as volunteer opportunities that might be done at the business’s location or one-time large group projects.

Here are just a few ways in which refugee employment programs might utilize corporate volunteers:

  • Have the company put on a fair or job readiness class where refugees can learn about different aspects of American workplace culture. This event can also include informational interviews and interviewing or networking practice for clients.
  • Have the company’s employee’s act as career mentors for refugee clients.
  • Seek out professional volunteers that might offer their skills for special projects such as database creation, grant writing, social media, or marketing.

Related Resources from the Higher Blog:

A Few Ways to Engage Volunteers in your Employment Program

Targeted Volunteer Recruitment- for Employment Programs

4 Ways to Utilize Volunteers in Employment Services

Do you have a great corporate partner that you would like to share with us? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Introducing the Welcoming Economies Playbook: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy

Upcoming Welcoming America webinar and tool launch:

Many communities recognize that refugee and other immigrant residents, in addition to being valued neighbors and civic leaders, represent economic growth as new homeowners, taxpayers, business owners, workers, and consumers. Together with longer-term residents, New Americans are fueling the competitiveness of local companies and communities in the global economy.

This webinar will explore Welcoming America’s soon-to-be-released new tool, the Welcoming Economies Playbook: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy by sharing how local leaders can develop an inclusive approach to economic development, tips for success, and key strategies around areas such as workforce development, entrepreneurship, home ownership, and urban and rural agriculture.

Featured Speakers

  • Natalie El-Deiry, Deputy Director, International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City
  • Sloan Herrick, Deputy Director, Global Detroit
  • Karen Kaplan, Director of Work Train, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity
  • Christina Pope, Network Director, Welcoming America

When:  Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. EDT

REGISTER NOW

Raleigh Immigrant Community: A Refugee Community-Based Program

Community organizations led by former refugees have a unique perspective for working with refugee populations. In Raleigh, NC, Raleigh Immigrant Community (RIC) capitalizes on this unique perspective to provide complimentary resettlement services to refugees for up to five years after arrival in the U.S. RIC provides employment services, cultural orientation, case management, interpretation services, community referrals, and English conversation round tables. Elias Njiru, Program Director of RIC, spoke with Higher about their services and how they support refugees beyond initial resettlement.

Like most new organizations, RIC was formed to respond to perceived gaps in services. RIC received initial assistance to address the mental health needs of refugees from a group of University of North Carolina (UNC) students and Refugee Wellness, a UNC Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative.  Now with the support of a grant from ORR’s Ethnic Community Self-Help Program RIC is able to focus on key areas of effective integration, such as employment, language proficiency, and cultural orientation, in addition to mental health. As a refugee led and focused organization, refugees comprise over 60% of their board of directors and their staff is primarily refugees and immigrants. RIC’s client recruitment occurs directly in the Raleigh-Durham community through collaboration with the local resettlement agencies.

  • Client Success: RIC enrolled a refugee with substance abuse challenges who was homeless and on the verge of losing their employment. RIC provided a referral to treatment and rehabilitation, a connection to transitional housing, and an employer intervention. Today, the client is working full time and maintaining sobriety.

By offering free interpretation services to employers who hire refugees, RIC forges successful partnerships with businesses. Interpretation is available in Swahili, Lingala, Chiluba, Sango, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Pashtu.

  • Employer Success: One local employer has hired over 30 refugees through RIC. Due to the needs of their new employees, the employer modified their orientation process. The employer also uses the RIC interpretation services to communicate pertinent employment information to their new employees.

Partnering with community-based organizations like RIC benefits refugees throughout the integration process.

For more information on RIC, email raleighimmigrant@gmail.com.

How do you partner with community organizations like RIC? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Higher’s Guide to Labor Market Information: Occupational Profiles Tool

Labor Market Information (LMI) enables refugee employment teams to utilize data to enhance their career counseling, job development, and job readiness classes.  In this post, Higher will highlight one aspect of Higher’s A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employment Programs, the Occupational Profile tool, which is available on CareerOneStop, an LMI database.

LMI is data provided by the US Department of Labor that incorporates statistics from employers across the nation. Within LMI, the Occupational Profile is a tool that gathers industry information on various fields and positions and provides data to the public.

How to Use the Occupational Profile – Example

Imagine you are in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, meeting with a client who has returned for long term career planning. The client has experience in crane operation from her country and is interested in returning to that field. You are unfamiliar with that position or industry and need to understand the client’s experience and how to assist the client in crafting an industry specific resume and long term career plan. To start, you open the Occupational Profile and search for the position. After clicking search, the occupational profile opens up with a description of job duties, responsibilities, and a career video. (For more details on the job duties and responsibilities, you may also use O*NET, the second LMI database, which holds similar information as CareerOneStop but in a different format.)

The Occupational Profile also provides details on national and state-specific employment projections. For example, Crane and Tower Operators projections show that job growth in this filed is slower in Alabama, than the United States as a whole. Based on the information provided you could select “Compare Projected Employment button to what other states will have more potential positions in the future. Select View Chart or View Map to compare. The information from the profile also indicates if the field is shrinking. Since the example highlights less potential growth, there could be other positions in the same industry that have more openings in the future. The Occupational Profile includes a list of related occupations for any selected position.

Another component of the Occupational Profile is Education and Experience: to get started as well as Typical Education. The Education and Experience box highlights what credentials people starting in this career often possess and some programs that can prepare a potential worker. Typical Education allows viewers to learn about the average educational level for workers in the field. For the example of Crane and Tower Operators, the diagram shows that 50% have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 24% have some college, but no degree. This information suggests that pursuing higher education for this field is unnecessary.

The Occupational Profile also provides wage information, required certifications and training, and skills and abilities of people in that field.

Accessing the Occupational Profile allows any employment professional to gather data to respect their client’s experience to benefit their future career.

Considerations

It is important to remember that as LMI data is gathered nationally every two years. Utilizing local sources like American Job Centers that collect real-time, local employer, or training information, might help to provide the most concrete information to refugee job seekers.

Of course, LMI databases or toolkits are not meant to replace local relationships and partnerships. To run reports, ask questions, or learn more about your state or local area, contact your state’s LMI expert.

The Occupational Profile is just one of many tools found on CareerOneStop; Higher also recommends discovering local businesses on the Business Finder, using Comparing Local Wages, and Local Training Finder.  For more information on Labor Market Information, check out Higher’s A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employment Programs.

How do you use labor market information to help inform client’s career pathways? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it is now accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program that will provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

These competitive grant opportunities are for organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history and civics.

USCIS seeks to expand availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services throughout the country with these two grant opportunities:

  • Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services. This grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations that offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents. Applications are due by Aug. 8, 2018.
  • The Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program. This grant opportunity will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will help them to obtain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship and to foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States. This grant strives to promote long term civic assimilation of those lawful permanent residents who have identified naturalization as a goal, yet may need additional information, instruction and services to attain it. Applications are due by Aug. 15, 2018.

USCIS will take into account various program and organizational factors, including past grantee performance and whether an applicant and any sub-awardees are enrolled in E-Verify, when making final award decisions.

USCIS expects to announce award recipients in September.

Since 2009, USCIS has awarded approximately $73 million through 353 grants to immigrant-serving organizations. These organizations have provided citizenship preparation services to more than 200,000 lawful permanent residents in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The funding of these grant opportunities is supported by fee funds.

To apply for one of these funding opportunities, visit grants.gov. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2018, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at citizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).

META Needs Your Feedback

Guest Post

Please take this short survey to help the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META) Project improve its services and resources! The survey will require approximately 10 minutes to complete.

The META Project is designed to strengthen the capacity of ORR-funded refugee service providers to collect, manage, analyze and use data to make informed decisions that will improve services and results for resettled refugees and other populations of concern in the U.S. The META Project’s design includes an annual external evaluation to help ORR and the META team understand the extent to which the project has been effective in achieving its intended outcomes; the quality and usefulness of different program components (individualized technical assistance, online learning resources, active learning opportunities, etc.); and how M&E TA could be improved. This survey is part of that evaluation.

This survey is intended for US-based, ORR-funded organizations. It is not intended for individuals seeking refugee status or organizations working with displaced populations outside the US.

For more information about META, visit www.METASupport.org or email META@Rescue.org.

Click Here to take the survey

Showing Appreciation to Employer Partners

Maintaining long-lasting employer partnerships is vital to any resettlement employment program. Higher presents a guest post by Ellie White with World Relief Seattle on how to show appreciation and stay connected to employer partners.

Years ago, our team at World Relief Seattle threw an Employer Appreciation Party for our employer partners. We thought it was such a great idea – an opportunity to show our appreciation, connect or reconnect with employers, and find out about new job leads or updates.

We sent out invitations, prepared food, and hung a thank you banner. Our employer partners, however, were either too busy, or uninterested. Only one or two came to the event. We tried again the next year, and got the same response.

We still wanted to appreciate and connect with our employers beyond an email or card, and realized the only way to do so was not to invite them to us, but to go to them!

Ever since, our team has hosted an annual Employer Appreciation Event that involves a visit and a small gift. Our team divides into small groups, armed with thank you mugs or small desk plants, and travels throughout the region visiting our employer partners to say thank you and connect.

This past year, our team visited over 30 employer partners. We chose them based on the amount of interaction our team had with them over the past year, and if we anticipated an ongoing relationship with them. We cannot visit all of our employer partners, therefore we send thank you cards to the employers that we do not visit, but who have recently hired our participants.

We are greeted with smiles, updates, and the opportunity to connect beyond our typical day-to-day correspondence. Some of our employers have had the gifted plants on their desk for years, and have started to expect the annual visit from World Relief with a new thank you gift. Sometimes we learn about current openings that we can take back to our job seekers.

It’s a low-budget, low-time commitment way to stay connected with employer partners, and to take just a few minutes to recognize the important role they play in the welcome and integration of our job seekers. Especially if we have not recently had any candidates for the employer, this visit provides a way to stay connected and continue to develop a healthy and on-going relationship with the employer.

 

What are some ways that you stay in touch with employers? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education: WIOA II Funding and Training for English Learners

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was established to provide support in removing barriers to employment for the American public through training and education. The goal is to move participants into high-quality jobs and careers while helping employers hire and retain skilled workers. Recently, WIOA added Integrated English Literacy & Civics Education (IELCE) to WIOA Title II to address barriers that English language learners face.

Under section 243 of WIOA law, IELCE is defined as: “education services provided to English language learners who are adults, including professionals with degrees and credentials in their native countries that enable such adults to achieve competency in the English language and acquire the basic and more advanced skills needed to function effectively as parents, workers, and citizens in the United States. Such services shall include instruction in literacy and English language acquisition and instruction on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and civic participation, and may include workforce training.” Services must be offered in combination with integrated education and training activities.

IELCE is a welcome addition to current services available to assist English language learners in achieving their employment or post-secondary education goals. It is crucial to note that clients with low English proficiency, or pre-literate individuals, must first attend bridge programs to meet the requirements for IELCE. A bridge program could be an existing ESL class focused on getting clients to an IELCE eligible English level or refugee employment programming that targets immediate needs and job readiness.

One potential model of IELCE programming is the iBest Program in Washington State. The iBest Program pairs two instructors in the classroom, one to teach professional and technical subject matter and the other to teach basic skills in reading, math, writing or English language. This allows students to gain the workforce training alongside education to obtain certifications or credentials faster than traditional programs.

Important Considerations

IELCE is a new addition to the WIOA law and implementation is currently just beginning. As activities and programming are incorporated or created, it is essential for those working one-on-one with English language learners, like refugees, to advocate for their clients during the application of these programs.

Increasing English learners access to WIOA through IELCE offer opportunities to obtain certifications in local high demand fields. Increased access to opportunities likely means increasing wages, higher-skilled positions, new employer relationships, and more.

Each state is different and can design and implement IELCE differently, to learn more about your state’s plans for implementation of IELCE and advocate for refugee access, contact your state director of adult education.

For Technical Assistance regarding IELCE, contact the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE).

For more information regarding your state’s WIOA plan, see the WIOA State Plans

Classifying Refugees as Dislocated Workers under WIOA

Today’s blog explores leveraging federal funding available for “dislocated workers” to support refugee career pathways.

What is WIOA

Under federal legislation called Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), the Department of Labor brought together all of its agencies and programs in one-stop career service centers, American Job Centers, to assist any youth or adult in the US who is unemployed or underemployed. WIOA programs and activities are available to citizens and nationals of the United States, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, refugees, asylees, and parolees, and other immigrants authorized by the Department of Homeland Security to work in the United States. WIOA also includes the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, providing participants with career services and training, such as resume assistance, job search assistance, career counseling, and supportive services like child care or transportation assistance. A complete description of these services is in the WIOA regulations Training and Employment Guidance Letter 03-15.

Refugees as Dislocated Workers

Read the federal definition of dislocated workers in the box to the left. In March 2017, the US Department of Labor stated that individual states may change their definition of dislocated workers within their WIOA state plans to include individuals whose job dislocation occurred outside the US.  For example, the state of Maryland amended its definition of dislocated workers in 2016 to include refugees. Thus, in Maryland, refugees can now self-attest the date and location of their dislocation. Contact your state’s Workforce Development Boards (WDB) to discover the benefits dislocated workers have in your state and if your state includes refugees in its definition of a dislocated worker.

How the State of Idaho Identifies Refugees as Dislocated workers

In Idaho, Global Talent Idaho works with WIOA staff in determining client’s eligibility and classify refugees as dislocated workers. Refugees who do not have the usual documentation (a letter signifying a layoff) for enrollment as a dislocated worker are assigned to a career planner to provide a registrant statement documenting the date of dislocation and reasons for the lack of the usual documentation.

To learn more about Idaho’s process, please read their Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act Technical Assistance Guide: Adult and Dislocated Worker Eligibility.

The states that currently define refugees as Dislocated Workers, include:

For more information

For a list of WIOA programs nearest you, contact an American Jobs Center, Career One Stop or call ETA’s toll-free helpline at (877) US-2JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5267). Services are designed to meet local needs and may vary from state to state. Services for dislocated workers have eligibility requirements. Check with your State Dislocated Worker Unit for details.

To learn more about WIOA see Higher’s previous resources:

Webinar

Collaborating with Mainstream Workforce Development and Taking Advantage of WIOA-funded Training Opportunities

Blogs

WIOA Youth Program Updates and Resources

Resource Post: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Plans

Workforce Collaboration Case Study: Connecting Refugees to WIOA-Funded Programs in Omaha

Bridging Access to Mainstream Workforce Resources: Rockford, Illinois

5 Easy First Steps to WIOA Opportunities

Refugees Make Great Employees: New Report Surveys 100 Employers on Working with Refugees

The Tent Foundation and the Fiscal Policy Institute have published a new research study entitled, REFUGEES AS EMPLOYEES, Good Retention, Strong Recruitment. Read it here.