A Farewell Message from Higher

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has provided technical assistance (TA) on refugee employment through funding by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) since 1997. As ORR redesigns its approach to TA provision and closes out the current TA grants (September 29, 2018), we wanted to say that it has been our privilege and our pleasure to provide services to the dynamic and passionate network of refugee employment staff.

We would like to thank the entire network for your thoughtful contributions, questions, and guest blog posts over the past 20 years. Higher was enriched each day by the talent, intelligence, and leadership exhibited by staff in the field, and we trust that this inspiration – and Higher’s legacy of excellence – will live on in communities across the country.

Higher began in 1997 as RefugeeWorks. In 2012, the Higher name was adopted as we increased our partnerships with employers in light of their vital role in ensuring the successful economic integration of newcomers. At the same time, LIRS created the Higher blog, dedicated to critical refugee employment topics. Today the blog has 4,591 total subscribers and our e-newsletter has 3,691.

The excellent Higher tools will remain available on the LIRS website at LIRS.org/higher. There you will find an extensive library of videos, webinars, e-learning courses, blog posts, and other resources. We hope employment staff will continue to access and use these materials. These resources will also be made available on the website of the new ORR funded TA provider.

LIRS will continue to grow our work in economic empowerment for newcomers. We are currently expanding our direct work with employers—helping them create on-site programming for refugees and immigrant staff (including ESL and financial literacy), adopt policies that promote diversity, inclusion, and employee retention, and create bridges between employers and local community resources for newcomers. In addition to our work with employers, we remain committed to finding ways to support refugee employment field staff as well as refugees themselves as they continue integrating into their communities.

Thank you for your hard work, contributions, and support. We wish you the best of luck on your onward journey to provide refugee employment services.

Sincerely,

LIRS and the Higher Team

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Don’t forget Higher’s Webinars!

Each year Higher develops professional webinars for the field of refugee employment. Each webinar reflects a theme trending in refugee employment. Check out the “Resources” section of our website to access the recordings. Below are links to webinars from Fiscal Year 2018, which cover how to design and measure a career advancement program, utilizing labor market information to maximize your job development, and case management efforts.

  1. Higher Presents: How to Design and Measure a Successful Career Advancement Programwas presented on June 26, 2018. This webinar features guest speakers from USCRI of North Carolina and ORR’s technical assistance provider for monitoring and evaluation, (IRC’s META).

 

  1. Higher Presents: A Guide to Labor Market Information for Refugee Employmentpresented March 27, 2018. Higher announces the publication of the guide to Labor Market Information (LMI) and how it can be used to maximize employment outcomes. Listen to the recorded webinar on LMI and the official release of the LMI guidebook. This includes a discussion with a refugee employment manager who reviewed and implemented the Higher LMI guide in the field and a Bureau of Labor Statistics LMI state representative from the State of Maryland.

 

Past webinars can be found, free to all, on Higher’s Online Learning Institute. Once you register with a username and password, you will have access to webinars, publications, and 16 online learning modules to further your professional development.

Would you or your office like to receive additional training from Higher? Please write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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What Now? Post-High School, College & Career Readiness for Refugee Youth

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 1PM EST

Join BRYCS to gain insight into ways to prepare refugee students for college and career, including involving refugee parents in decision making. Promising Practices among programs serving refugee youth transitioning to adulthood will be shared. Register Today!

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New employer partners? Don’t forget about USCIS E-Verify webinars!

Every month, USCIS provides E-Verify webinars for new staff, new employer partners, Human Resource professionals, and others seeking information regarding what E-Verify is and how it works. As refugee employment staff, it is crucial to understand the work authorization process and how to educate employers on how to use and access E-Verify correctly. There are webinars on every step, including I-9 documents, E-Verify overview, employee rights, and more. Check out their September schedule here. For more information on E-Verify, click here.

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New Webinar from META! Data Visualization in Excel Made Easy, August 21

Register now for META’s introductory webinar Data Visualization in Excel Made Easy! This beginners-level webinar will be held on August 21, 2018, from 3:00-4:00PM ET. The training is intended for staff in all roles who don’t work with data every day but want to learn basic steps to get started using the tools you already have.

After attending this webinar, you will be able to:
•    Describe the importance of data visualization.
•    Name key steps for visualizing data well.
•    Begin using data visualization to convey common messages.

META also is excited to offer a limited number of one-on-one data visualization consultations! 5 interested ORR-funded organizations will receive customized help to improve their data visualization skills. Using your actual data, META will work with you to build your capacity in using data to convey your chosen message to your audience, whether that’s your program team, your donor, your partners or your wider community. Attend the webinar or email META@Rescue.org to learn more!

 

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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

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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).

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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

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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

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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

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