Higher’s Holiday Gift Guide

Earlier this month, when we asked for suggestions to inform our annual gift guide, we hoped to learn about one or two new businesses or products that help refugees earn more than minimum wage in jobs that offer dignity, training opportunities and supportive work environments. Thanks to the incredible response from across the refugee employment network, we received more recommendations than we can list, so here are the top 12. Enjoy!

anchor-of-hopeAnchor of Hope – A subscription service to receive monthly or quarterly boxes filled with items lovingly handmade by refugees, survivors of human trafficking and others in vulnerable situations, most living right here in the United States.

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Beautiful Day Granola – Tastes great. Employs and trains refugees. They have several flavors to choose from, but if you’re new to Beautiful Day, try Keith’s Originala – it’s so good!

blb3Better Life Bags – Located in Detroit, Better Life Bags employs workers with barriers to employment including refugees/asylees.

broadwick-fibersBroadwick Fibers – We work with ACC here in Denver to employ refugees (well, just one right now but plans for more in the near future) who have come here from East Africa.    -Camille McMurry, owner of Broadwick Fibers

 

edEkata Designs – A Memphis based Jewelry business that exists to provide employment, income and training to refugees as they transition to a new life in America.

 

Kei & Molly Textiles A small, women owned and run business who has hired two of our Congolese clients!   -Kiri Mathsen, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services of Rocky Mountains in Albuquerque, NM  

 

15056691_1142776845843269_4146344282048954368_nGAIA Empowered Women – Through a living wage and continued training and development, the goal of this Dallas-based social enterprise is to lead the women to financial independence and self-sufficiency.

 

knotty-tie-co-2Knotty Tie Co. – This company hires refugees who graduate from ECDC’s African Community Center of Denver’s “We Made This sewing program and teaches them to make beautiful, high quality ties and scarves.

 

artisan_candle_compactProsperity Candle – Refugee women help select the scents and make the gorgeous candles in collaboration with their artisan colleagues in Iraq.  Read more in a previous Higher blog post.

 

Threadies – Threadies are hand-sewn by a team of women in the West Bank who receive a living wage and valuable job training. When you purchase a Thready teddy bear, its twin goes to a child refugee, along with tools vital to help them cope with trauma.

 

usful-glassŪsful Glassworks – A Denver-based nonprofit with a mission to help people with employment barriers find jobs by providing on-the-job and vocational training to those in the community who need help, including refugees. 

 

wornWorn – A socially-conscious business of Catholic Charities Fort Worth with a mission to provide refugee women living in the United States a supplemental source of income, empowering them to rise above poverty. All products are hand-knit in the U.S. by women who have survived the afflictions of their war-torn and poverty-stricken homelands.

Greetings from the new Program Manager of Higher!

Hello everyone! Last Monday, (November 14, 2016) I became the new Program Manager for Higher. I’ve received a wonderful welcome from my co-workers Sarah and Daniel, as well as from the blog comments and network at large. Thank you for making me feel so welcome!

nicole-headshotPrior to coming to Higher, I worked in employment for a number of years with USCRI in their North Carolina field office. When I began with USCRI, my first project was to revitalize a Match Grant (MG) program with an 11% self-sufficiency rate (out of a 200 slot program). I worked as a job developer to establish new employer relationships and to design a job readiness curriculum that would lead my clients on a path to success. My network of peers, headquarters staff and the Higher team helped support me with the resources and connections I needed to build successful programs.

For four years I worked hard to secure funding to increase our capacity, while designing effective programs that would better serve our clients. I’m happy to say that when I left USCRI, we had four successful job programs and a job upgrade program that I established and saw funded before I left. The site now has a 96% self-sufficiency rate, a seven week job readiness curriculum, four programs and six staff.

I’m excited to take my work to the national level. I look forward to learning from all of you as well. At times employment staff can be both loved and hated by clients because our job links clients to their financial, social, and permanent success in the U.S. I know how hard the work that you do is, but I also know how talented and passionate every one of you is about the clients you serve. I hope that each of you will reach out to me at any time. I would like to hear your success stories so that I can celebrate you at a higher level.

Have a wonderful holiday and thank you for your service and partnership with refugees and immigrants!

Please keep in touch,

Nicole

nredford@lirs.org

Holiday Gift Guide – Any Recommendations?

Do you know of any businesses or products that should be featured in Higher’s annual holiday gift guide?  We have a great list started for this year’s guide, but it can always be better!  

Stay tuned for our annual holiday gift guide blog post. We’ll put all of your recommendations into one post to make your holiday shopping as easy as possible.  

Please submit your recommendations by commenting below or by contacting us.

Welcome Nicole Redford, Program Manager for Higher

Today is Nicole’s first day! Nicole Redford joins us from Raleigh, North Carolina. Nicole has spent the last few years with USCRI as the Employment Coordinator overseeing six staff working in four programs: Matching Grant, Refugee Assistance Program, Targeted Assistance Grant, and the Cuban Haitian programs. She started the agency’s first job upgrade program securing grants and private donations. She has also worked with refugees across the spectrum of service areas as the Youth Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee in NYC, and as the Program Manager for Art for Refugees in Transition (A.R.T.) for three years. Nicole has a Master’s in Global Affairs from NYU where she focused on Human Rights.

Please join us in welcoming Nicole!

Higher’s December Webinars

Financial Literacy: How to Teach the Basics

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2:00 – 3:15pm EST

Financial literacy is an essential component of economic self sufficiency. This webinar will explore what topics are most important and will feature resources designed to be used as job readiness activities. Panelists will share financial literacy initiatives and examples of community partnerships that can be replicated. Financial literacy curriculums will be highlighted throughout the training.  

Register here


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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2:00 – 3:30pm EST

Higher has made a concerted effort over the past couple years to educate our network about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) and has highlighted mainstream workforce development resources and collaboration case studies on our blog. In this webinar, Higher will continue building our network’s awareness of WIOA-related opportunities by highlighting specific career pathways opportunities within the mainstream workforce system that have potential to help refugees move beyond “survival jobs.” Speakers are still being confirmed, but Higher is hoping that this webinar will feature both government WIOA experts, as well as refugee field staff that have successfully collaborated with the mainstream system.

Register here

Friday Feature: A Refugee Family’s First Month in the U.S.

Erika Shultz/Seattle Times

Erika Shultz/Seattle Times

Although our posts typically focus on the employment search of our clients and not on what they experience in their first days or weeks in the U.S., it’s good to keep in mind the extreme adjustment (with all the hopes, fears, and uncertainties) that our clients are going through when we begin working with them.

Take a few minutes this Friday to check out this fantastic multi-media piece from the Seattle Times on the first 30 days of a Bhutanese refugee family in Washington state:

http://projects.seattletimes.com/2016/bhutan-to-tukwila/#/

Webinar Announcement: International Perspectives On Connecting Immigrant and Refugee Youth to Employment

Looking for ideas and inspiration for connecting immigrant and refugee youth to employment? Tuning in to ideas from other countries resettling refugees can be a helpful way to get some fresh perspective and think outside the box.

This Wednesday at 10:00 AM EST, Canada-based Cities of Migration will host a webinar featuring “enterprising ideas from Stockholm and Paris that are connecting talented young people to jobs while helping businesses tap the diversity advantage.”

The webinar will highlight strategies such as social enterprises, vocational training and mentorship programs that help prepare under/un-employed immigrant and refugee youth for the labour market while promoting the values of corporate diversity and leadership to employers.

To register, click here: http://citiesofmigration.ca/webinar/youthemployment/

Soft Skills: A Fundamental in Our Work

We think a lot about skills and what employers are looking for in new hires.  Even though this data was published by the Confederation of British Industry, it closely mirrors what we experience in our job development efforts with employers and job readiness preparation with clients.  Take a quick look at this graphic to remind yourself of the importance of “soft skills” and characteristics over specific technical skills and experience.

education-skills-infographic-02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to spend more time thinking about soft skills and how to help clients understand why they are valuable and how to convey that value to employers?  Check out Higher’s eLearning course How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions. Also, review these three previous Higher blog posts:

The U-Curve of Cultural Adjustment

The initial resettlement period is action packed for refugees and employment service providers.  Everything is new.  Much of it is exciting and scary. Multiply that experience by however many clients you resettled this month and it’s easy to forget the typical emotional journey of anyone who experiences life in a different culture.

This 2011 resource from the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) is a quick reminder of a less tangible part of the new arrival experience.  When clients express unrealistic expectations, don’t show up for interview practice or don’t seem fully engaged in their own job search, their experience of cultural adjustment might be part of the reason.

ucurve-of-cultural-adjustment

Employer Perspectives on Hiring Refugees in the U.S. and Europe

Successful Job Development and Customized Job Readiness Preparation Offer Business Solutions

Two recent articles illustrate proven strategies we know work, outline employer perspectives shared between U.S. and European industry and point to growing industry-led innovations to integrate refugees into the workforce.

Results from Best Practices in Our Work

An article in fastcoexist.com highlights successful IRC employer partnerships with Chipotle, Starwood Lodging and others. They describe customized job readiness preparation, effective applicant pre-screening and interview preparation similar to services many of you provide to employer partners.

According to a quote from the article, “refugees sent [to Chipotle] by the IRC are more than seven times more likely to be qualified and hired compared to someone in the company’s typical applicant pool.

Employer Partnerships and Corporate-led Solutions in the U.S. and Europe

Businesses..say that working with refugees isn’t charity, it’s good business, according to another quote from the fastcoexist.com article from Jennifer Patterson,quote-snip project director for the Partnership for Refugees, a new initiative the White House announced in June to work with the private sector.

recent article from businesstimes.com mentions on-line educational opportunities offered for refugees in Europe. Read a previous Higher blog post about a similar opportunity from Coursera for Refugees, part of the White House initiative.

Similar Employer Motivations and Initial Concerns about Hiring Refugees

The businesstimes.com article highlights early successes and the corporate perspective on hiring refugees in Germany. Prospective employers express concern about limits to initial productivity due to low language proficiency.

Refugee employment service providers know that employers who partner with us to hire refugees quickly see beyond initial worries about language, illustrated in this quote from the fastcoexist.com article.

“We do sometimes need to increase up-front training for our refugee recruits,” says Starwood’s associate director of community partnerships and global citizenship Kristin Meyer. “But the dedication and passion they bring to the job definitely outweighs that investment.”

Statistics about initial job placements for new arrivals in Germany also mirror our success placing refugees in starter jobs with strong hospitality and service sector employer partners.  Across the country, strong hotel employer partnerships yield supportive starter jobs and support for short-term vocational pre-employment training like pilot hospitality training programs developed by IRC and Starwood lodgings.

What We Might Learn from Germany About Registered Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is already a widespread business strategy for on-boarding and training new hires in Germany.  Read more about the expansion of registered apprenticeship opportunities in the U.S in a previous Higher blog post from our mainstream resource series.

German employers see pre-apprenticeship bridge training as necessary to prepare refugees to succeed in apprenticeship programs. This mirrors successes many refugee employment programs have with contextualized ESL, in-house short-term vocational training programs as prerequisites to successful refugee access to other mainstream workforce resources.

Businesses in the U.S. and Europe share some of the same goals and needs when hiring refugees. The services we provide to employer partners offer solutions that could be replicated in Europe.  There many be lessons we can learn from bridge training in the context of registered apprenticeship in Germany.