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.

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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.

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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.

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Higher Presents: 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.

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Webinar Alert! What Does It Take to Effectively Engage and Retain Out-of-School Youth?

Our Journey Together: Out-of-School Youth Cohort Challenge Review

Join Workforce GPS on Thursday, June 7th from 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM EST to learn about the findings of the Out-of-School Youth Cohort.  Cohort Teams examined and developed resources in the following areas: Empowering Youth as Active Participants; Using Technology in Innovative Ways through Programming; and Recruitment, Marketing, and Outreach Strategies.  Join the webinar and learn how the cohort was created, what they developed, and how your program might benefit.

To register, click here.

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Resources for Highly Skilled Refugees

Highly skilled refugees are unique from other refugees as they often arrive to the U.S. with higher levels of education, advanced English language ability, or extensive training and experience in a particular occupation. Resettlement sites that see smaller numbers of highly skilled refugees tend to find themselves in unfamiliar territory, without the availability of job upgrade programs or experience in long-term goal setting. Higher is sharing resources that can help sites with limited numbers assist highly skilled refugees in obtaining employment that matches their skill level or, ideally, in their previous field.

Foreign Degree Certification

Job Readiness & Education

  • Higher’s Online Learning Institute is our free online system with courses designed for refugee employment staff and job readiness instructors, many of which refugees could take on their own to reiterate coursework and practice skills needed for the American workplace.
  • Upwardly Global provides career development programming for SIVs, immigrants, and refugees who were professionals in their home countries.
  • WES Global Talent Bridge assists community organizations and public agencies that support skilled immigrants with tools, training and other resources.
  • Utilize volunteers in your community to support job readiness classes, career mentors, in-home tutoring for spouses, access to childcare, transportation orientations, and more.

Job Development

What are some unique approaches you use with highly skilled refugees? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Worker’s Rights Review

At Higher, we frequently receive inquiries about the rights of refugee workers. To address those past and future inquiries we have compiled a list of worker’s rights and associated websites.  These rights are important topics for job readiness classes and may enable refugees to recognize instances of discrimination and unsafe working conditions.

Right to be paid – in most instances, workers have the right to be paid federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) and to receive overtime pay for work over 40 hours a week. If workers do not receive all of the wages for the time they actually worked, they can take action to recover those wages. Note that many states have minimum wages that exceed the federal minimum wage.

Right to be free of discrimination – it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against or harass workers based on race, color, religion, age, disability, national origin or sex.

Right to organize – in most workplaces, it is illegal for an employer to punish or threaten workers for organizing with others to improve their working conditions.

Right to be safe on the job – workers are protected by workplace health and safety laws at their worksites.

Right to benefits if injured on the job – in most states, workers who are injured on the job are entitled to the protections of state workers’ compensation laws.

Right to unemployment payments – in most states workers who are fully or partially unemployed, looking for work, and have valid work documentation are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Right to choose which documents to show your employer for employment eligibility verification (I-9) – for example, your employer cannot demand that you show them a green card. If you do not have a green card yet, you may show your employer your driver’s license or ID and Social Security Card (SSC).

Right to begin work – if you do not have your Social Security card but can provide other documentation of status such as an I-94, you can still begin working unless e-verify is required, in which case a SS number or card is needed at time of employment.

Right to a work environment free of harassment – if you encounter harassment in the form of sexual aggravation, taunting and bullying, or hazing, you may file a report with the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Special Counsel.

Right to report unfair hiring or work practices – you can report any offenses to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Special Counsel by calling their hotline at 1-800-255-7688.

For more information, check out these resources:

How do you teach refugees in your job readiness classes about their rights in the workplace? Share with us at information@higheradvantage.org!

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Fraudulent Phone Call Alert

There have been a variety of phone call scams over time that target newcomers.  These fraudulent calls are aimed at scamming people to steal their identity or gain access to their finances. As resettlement staff, we have a responsibility to warn our clients about these phone call scams so they do not get tricked into revealing personal information.

Our contacts at the Department of Labor recently alerted Higher to a new scam: within the past few weeks, there have been reports of phone calls made from a Department of Labor phone number (202-693-2700) soliciting personal information or promising funds to those receiving the calls.

Higher is reporting that the Department of Labor has not authorized any of these calls. Please let your clients know that the Department of Labor does not and will not solicit personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, over the phone.

Tell your clients that if they receive a call from anyone they do not know requesting personal information, they should consider it a spam call and hang up. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers helpful information about protecting yourself against fraud of all types; for more information, please visit their Scam Watch.

The FTC tracks and investigates fraud cases that are perpetuated by telephone. Anyone who has been targeted by the recent telephone scam should file a complaint with the FTC.The online complaint form is available in English and Spanish.

If you have multiple clients receiving calls from the DOL number, you should report the situation by calling the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-855-522-6748.

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Get to Know Your State’s SNAP Options

Refugees in the United States can access many federal and state supportive programs upon arrival. One of those programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP provides funding to assist eligible, low-income families to purchase food each month based on household income and size. For more information on the funding amounts supplied per household, see the updated 2018 Income Eligibility Standards. Although SNAP is federally funded, states have some flexibility to tailor the program to best meet their local communities’ specific needs.

As a refugee employment specialist, you need a solid working knowledge of the SNAP program and how employment income affects this benefit in order to accurately calculate client self-sufficiency and to educate your clients about the changes they can anticipate upon starting work. The SNAP State Options Report provides specific information on how your state’s SNAP program is executed, and can help you identify changes from previous years and make comparisons to other states’ SNAP programming. The October 2016 report is the most recent edition, and you can view past reports on the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service website in order to make the comparisons with previous years.

The SNAP State Options Report is broken into two sections. Both sections highlight the same 27 categories of program options, such as work requirements and disqualification policies, reporting systems used, and availability of online SNAP applications. Here is how to use each report section:

  1. National Option Profiles (p. 2 – 28) show visual map comparisons of how state programs operate. This section also provides explanations of the different SNAP program options, such as defining “Simplified Income and Resources” and clarifying how SNAP certification workflow and case management differ among states.
  2. State Agency Profiles (p. 29 – 81) show state-by-state charts of SNAP information. This section is most helpful in seeing a snapshot of how your state’s SNAP program is set up.

The National Option Profiles demonstrate the various aspects of each option that the state agency profile highlights in section two of the report. For example, one option highlights the Work Requirements and Disqualification Policy on page 19. This allows one to see the specifics on the national minimum requirement, how each state exceeds the requirements, and requirements of termination from SNAP. This information is crucial when looking at specific state information in section two, State Agency Profiles, because each option is not provided with definitions.

For the purpose of this review, two states (Arizona and New Jersey) were chosen as examples to reflect how the report can be used.

In section one, the map on page 19 shows which states fall under which category of disqualification policy. The State of Arizona chose that the entire household could be disqualified from SNAP based on becoming ineligible for benefits along with the regulatory minimum. The “minimum periods set by law are 1 month for the first instance, 3 months for the second, and 6 months for the third.”  While the state of New Jersey however, chose only the regulatory minimum.

For section two:

On page 31, one can look at the SNAP State Agency Profile for Arizona. State-specific information includes:

  • SNAP program is administered by the state rather than individual counties in AZ. (Identified in the Program Administration option)
  • Arizona households can apply for SNAP and TANF with one application in some cases. (Identified in the Joint Processing – TANF option)
  • All household income and deductions are counted toward SNAP eligibility, even if the household includes ineligible non-citizens who cannot receive SNAP benefits. (Identified in the Treatment of Income and Deductions of Ineligible Non-Citizens option)
  • Clients in AZ can apply and recertify their SNAP eligibility using an online application. (Identified in the Online Application option).

On page 60, one can look at the SNAP State Agency Profile for New Jersey. Examples of information found are:

  • SNAP program is administered by the county rather than the state in NJ. (Identified in the Program Administration option)
  • New Jersey households can apply for SNAP and TANF with one application in some cases. (Identified in the Joint Processing – TANF option)
  • All household income and deductions are counted toward SNAP eligibility, even if the household includes ineligible non-citizens who cannot receive SNAP benefits, with the exception of prorated SNAP months. (Identified in the Treatment of Income and Deductions of Ineligible Non-Citizens option)
  • Clients in NJ can apply for their SNAP eligibility using an online application. (Identified in the Online Application option).

Be sure to check out what options your state chooses and how they implement the policies. You can find more SNAP information and further research here.

Questions on how to use the report or access data? Email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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A More Interactive Approach for Job Readiness Class

The infographic below contains several tips when designing your job club curriculum. Best courses for refugee learners should not only include more interactivity, but aim for greater retention.  The current best practice is to introduce new material in 20 minute chunks. This does not mean job readiness classes need to be short, rather the lesson should be designed to reinforce those main ideas and core concepts.

For example, when teaching workers’ rights, you teach the right to a work place free from discrimination. Give real life examples of what discrimination looks like and share a story of a client who experienced discrimination. Then ask the group if they have ever experienced discrimination.

To give another example, when preparing clients for job interviews, you could do a lesson on hygiene and appropriate clothes to wear and then give clients 5 minutes to pick out a perfect interview outfit from a pile of clothes.

What have you found works best for your clients? Tell us your job readiness success stories or contact us for help on how to design a great curriculum. Email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

 

 

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