Happy New Year!!

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

This year has been very challenging and stressful but as always employment staff remained resilient and rose to the challenge. We thank you for your service to you refugee and immigrant clients.If you need any employment assistance or just want to reach out, Higher is always here to support. Email information@higheradvantage.org


CareerDescriptions.org predicted the following top 5 careers by 2017. Do you agree?

Happy Holidays from Higher

Photo Credit The Cramer Insititute

Photo Credit The Cramer Institute

These past few months have been incredibly busy for everyone in resettlement across the country. We hope you all employment staff can take some time just to relax because you have definitely earned it. Employment is no easy job and the skill-set that each one of you has is so vital to the resettlement of refugees. Each of your clients benefit when you work together to place them in jobs.

Before you go, please check in with both employers and clients before you take vacation because no one wants to come back to a crisis. Most importantly, please take care of yourselves so you can get back to your awesome and life changing work in New Year.

If we at Higher can give your more information that you need in order to succeed in your job or if you need someone to talk through a tough situation please do not hesitate to reach out, we are always available information@higheradvantage.org.

Stay safe and take care.



Higher Staff Transition

To all our wonderful partners. My time with Higher is coming to an end. In fact, today is my last day in the office. I’m leaving to focus on school and some creative projects I’ve always wanted to pursue. The easiest way to express how I feel is to thank you all for helping make my time with Higher a fulfilling and life-changing role – Thank You!  

Please keep in touch! 

Here are five of the most important things I’ve learned over the past three years: 

1. The Upside to Being Outside of my Comfort Zone

I truly love to learn, and I have to admit, I’ve learned the most when I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone to do my job.  Whether standing behind an exhibition booth table or presenting in front of a room full of service providers, the situations that have caused me the most anxiety are, by far, my most cherished memories with Higher. I encourage each of you to do something that challenges you to learn something about yourself in the New Year. 

2. Practice Makes Perfect

When I think about the presentations, webinars and trainings I’ve done with Higher, the ones that I’m the most proud of are the ones that I’ve taken the time to practice. Over and over and over again. Coming into this role with Higher, I didn’t realize how much time goes into designing, developing and conducting an effective presentation.  Many of you do it every day and I’m inspired by your abilities!

3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

When I first started with Higher, I thought that the fact that I lacked frontline experience working with refugees was something to be ashamed of.  As I started to get to know the network, it became clear that I was wrong – when I admitted that I needed help to understand the world of refugee employment, every person I talked to was SO HELPFUL. I’ve tried really hard to mirror the incredible generosity and kindness I’ve received from the network, but it’s difficult to imagine I’ve come close. You guys are amazing.

4. The Importance of Community

The timing couldn’t have been worse for me personally, but I’m so glad that I made time to attend the Welcoming Institute in August of 2015. Throughout the two-day event, Welcoming America somehow managed to change the way I think about communities, and more surprisingly, the role I wanted to play in my own local community. To summarize, I went from not really caring on day one to finding myself on Baltimore’s World Refugee Day planning committee before I even knew what was happening. Thanks, Welcoming America – I needed that!

5. A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way

Giving a compliment is easy, free, and motivational, but I wonder, can you remember the last time someone told you that you were doing a good job? Please, I’m not looking for a compliment – really. What I am hoping is that you pass on some kind words today – maybe to a colleague or maybe to a client – no matter what, you’ll make more of an impact than you will ever know. Here are a few easy phrases to get you started: “Keep up the good work!” “Great job!” “Thank You!”     

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,



Webinar: Using Data to Improve WIOA Services for Refugees

mpiClick here to register to attend a Migration Policy Institute (MPI) webinar this Thursday, 12/17 at 11:30 EST.

State and local Workforce Development Boards continue to finalize plans for WIOA implementation.

Hard demographic data about refugee and immigrant populations should inform those decisions.  We can have greater influence if we’re armed with the facts.

MPI has timed this webinar to coincide with the release of new Immigrants and WIOA fact sheets we can all use in our own programs and to better collaborate with the mainstream workforce system.

Want to learn more about WIOA and ways you can help refugees better access mainstream workforce resources? Type WIOA into the search box on Higher’s website to access a collection of the resources we have found most helpful so far.

Last Chance to Register for Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop

omaha 2We are excited to announce that registration is nearly sold out for our Refugee Employment Workshop, November 4 – 6 in Omaha! There are still a few spots available for the main 2-day event, Thursday, 11/5 and Friday, 11/6 (the optional first day has sold out). Click here to register.

We have a great agenda planned for these few days. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) will be presenting at this year’s event. We learn something relevant and useful from OSC every time we connect. We know you’ll enjoy hearing from Liza Zamd, Senior Trial Attorney.

We are also eager to hear the latest research about the long-term economic integration and professional development success for refugees. Dr. Faith Nibbs, Director of the Forced Migration Upward Mobility Project (FMUMP) at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, will present about innovations in career-laddering.

There are too many exciting presenters, panels and topics to list! Besides the amazing content, we have some surprises and fun built into the schedule.

Important! If you haven’t booked your hotel yet, you should reserve your room now. We just received an alert from the hotels offering attendees a discounted rate – there are very few (less than five) rooms left at each hotel. Click here to see lodging options for this workshop.

Please feel free to contact us (information@higheradvantage.org) with any questions that you may have.

See you in Omaha!

Welcome Higher’s Newest Team Member

We’re excited that Daniel Wilkinson has joined our team as Workforce Engagement Coordinator. You’ll be hearing more from him and can get in touch with him at dwilkinson@higheradvantage.org  Welcome to your third day with Higher, Daniel!



Cuba Update


Cubans working in the city of Trinidad

“El red Cubano” – the Cuban community grapevine –  is a powerful mechanism to spread information – real and imagined.

Continued high numbers of Cuban border crosser arrivals suggests worry about possible changes in parolee status and refugee benefit eligibility.

What’s really going on with U.S.-Cuban relations and what changes could be coming inside Cuba and here?  Read further for one official policy statement followed by two tidbits that could suggest larger changes for Cuba and the Cuban community in the U.S.

1.  Official Policy Statement Maintains the Status Quo – For Now

The U.S. State Department has provided a ‘limited interpretation of normalization’ of the U.S.’s diplomatic relationship with the Cuban Government.  Click here to read the entire Fact Sheet released on July 6.

“The Administration has no plans to alter current migration policy, including the Cuban Adjustment Act. The United States continues to support safe, legal and orderly migration from Cuba to the United States and the full implementation of the existing migration accords with Cuba.”

2.  Sending Money to Family in Cuba Still Complicates Achievement of Economic Self-Sufficiency

Previous relaxation of some sanction policies in 2009 ended limits on the amount of remittances to close relatives.  More recent changes increased the limit on remittances to any Cuban national for humanitarian needs from $500 to $2,000 per quarter.

The vast majority of our Cuban clients send money home to suport their family and friends, often at the expense of their own financial self-sufficiency.  For most recently resettled Cubans, their current salaries are a stricter limit on what they’re able to send home than policy limits.  Expansion could make them feel increased pressure to send more.

3.  Inside Cuba, Economic Opportunities Seem to be Expanding

Click here to read a fascinating article about Cuban internet entrepreneurs in Cuba.  Our Cuban clients are genius at understanding how to make the most of the opportunities they have.  They’re joyful, resourceful, creative and independent.

Our media often talks about a “socialist hangover” to describe a sense of entitlement and work ethic that looks different than expected in the U.S. job market. Many of us have heard Cubans share a common expression about work in Cuba.  “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”

As political and socio-economic changes continue in Cuba, it seems likely that socialist attitudes will, too.

Send any additional insight you can share about how ongoing changes are affecting our clients to information@higheradvantage.org



Learn More About Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

Infographic Source: https://www.facebook.com/refunite/photos

Knowing more about where our clients were before coming to the U.S. improves our ability to help them succeed in the U.S. workforce.

Something for every learning style to have a stronger understanding of the Kakuma refugee camp setting in Kenya. Numbers (the infographic at left) and visuals (IRC Video).


Apologies for the Technical Difficulties


Where’s the Muscles from Brussels when you need him?

Higher’s week day blog feed has been fighting technical difficulties. Apologies for letting down almost 800 refugee employment pros across the country. The battle will be won by the end of the week. Stay tuned for our eLearning contest winner, WIOA news and a big announcement about Higher’s Second Annual Refugee Employment Workshop coming this fall in Omaha, NE!