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.

Scholarships for Refugees: University of the People

With restrictive schedules and finances, one way for refugees to pursue post-secondary education is through online programs. One example is the University of the People, a non-profit, tuition-free, online accredited university, which allows students to learn on their own time through a variety of courses leading towards two- or four-year degrees in business administration, computer science, or health science.

Regardless of the program choice, the cost is a $100 assessment fee at the end of each course, with scholarships available. Scholarships are available for refugees: the Emergency Refugee Scholarship, the Small Giants Refugees fund, and the Myanmar Scholarship fund. Those interested can apply after completion of the student application and admission.

Questions regarding scholarships can be emailed to financial.aid@uopeople.edu.

Read more about University of the People in this recent VOA article.

For other online programs available to refugees, see Higher’s previous post on Coursera.

World Refugee Day

On June 20, World Refugee Day, we honour the resilience and courage of more than 65 million people who have been forced to flee war, persecution and violence. But it’s also a moment to recognize those communities and people around the world who receive refugees and the internally displaced in their midst, offering them a safe place, and welcoming them in their schools, their workplaces and their societies.”  — Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Refugees that make a home in the United States have the opportunity to work and learn the skills necessary to reestablish themselves and make positive contributions in their new communities, because of the work of refugee resettlement staff and supporters, like you. Thank you.

Resume Writing for Advanced Positions

Often Higher is asked for guidance on how to help clients prepare a more advanced resume. Outlined in the section below are some of the best rules and advice on how to build a professional U.S. style resume.

The Rules

  • 1-page rule: In the US, job seekers must stick to the one-page rule unless they have a master’s degree or higher; then a resume can be two pages.
  • Get the order right: Move backward in time, starting with the most recent job in each section.
  • 10-year rule: Never recount more than 10 years of employment history.
  • Equal bullets rule: Under every position, there should be the same amount of bulleted information and job duties.
  • Education: Spell out the degree so it will stand out. It is not necessary to include a GPA or GMAT score. Do not list courses. Do list any leadership roles and study abroad experiences.
  • Font rule: Keep the entire document in the same font, and only the name should be in larger font. Use a standard font (Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica), so it reads the same on any computer or printer.
  • Avoid the objective: Many people like to start their resume with an objective outlining their purpose. However, every applicant has a similar objective; as they are all seeking employment. Express the objective in a cover letter, and keep the resume for professional and educational history.
  • Addressing Gaps: Use cover letters to briefly and directly address the gap in the career, particularly for refugees who have experienced long periods of time where they were unable to work. For example, “I am returning to the workforce after a period of raising children/living as a refugee.” Then address the strengths, qualifications, and goals. Emphasize the job seeker’s excitement and preparedness to re-enter the workforce now. If the gap is over 7 years or a refugee prefers not to address the time gap, it may be time to consider a skill based resume which will be tackled in a subsequent Higher blog.
  • Creativity rule: Create a new version of a resume for every job opportunity. Similar to a cover letter, a resume should be tailored to a job description
  • Finally, don’t forget to have a friend or colleague help edit and proofread. An outside perspective is most helpful in selecting what is most relevant to each job.

What are some rules or content guidelines that you use when writing advanced resumes? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Check out Higher’s past blogs for more information on Resume Strategies, Entry-Level Resumes or Cover Letters.

 

Webinar Reminder: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Program

Higher is pleased to announce an upcoming webinar on designing and measuring career advancement programs, in collaboration with the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance project of the International Rescue Committee.

Career advancement programs provide needed structure to refugees for career progression, helping them to make a plan for gaining the skills needed to increase their career options.

Many refugee resettlement agencies have existing services and support from community partners to enable them to provide career advancement programming. In this webinar, experts will walk participants through each piece of an employment program and offer guidance on how to better serve clients on their career advancement journey.

Participants will be able to understand the building blocks of successful career advancement programs as well as how to use data to demonstrate the impact of career advancement on clients, communities, and economies. The webinar will highlight a program in North Carolina that successfully transitioned to a job upgrade program. Additionally, Higher chose to collaborate with META, the data experts, in order to demonstrate how to measure your progress and determine the effect of this programming on clients.

Presenters:

Hannah Parkin, Case Manager and Job Developer with USCRI’s North Carolina Field Office

Meg Gibbon, Program Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Assistance (META)

When:

Tuesday, June 26th from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST

Please click here to register and join us for this exciting webinar.