Workforce development program helps lift immigrants out of poverty

New name, same mission! LIRS is now Global Refuge. Learn more.

New name.
Same mission.

LIRS is now Global Refuge.

Welcoming newcomers since 1939.

See Our Evolution

The browser you are using is not supported. Please consider using a modern browser.

Skip Navigation
Donate
Start of main content.

Press Release // Empowering Refugees

Overcoming Poverty and Raising Wages: “New American Cities” Workforce Development Program

Global Refuge logo

Global Refuge Staff

November 20, 2023

Joint report explores workforce development program that connects immigrants and refugees to meaningful employment while supporting employer needs and bolstering local tax bases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 20, 2023

Contact: Jason Lucas | jason.lucas@globalrefuge.org | 240-717-4421

Baltimore, MD. – Approximately 60% of those who completed Global Refuge’s New American Cities pilot program have secured jobs with wages high enough to lift them and their families above the federal poverty line, according to a new report. New American Cities is a workforce development program focused on moving refugee and immigrant workers into family-sustaining jobs so that they can achieve economic self-sufficiency and career advancement.

Of those who entered the program unemployed, job placements resulted in average hourly wages of $19.63. Those who entered employed but earning less than the federal poverty line saw their average hourly wages increase by 41%, from $13.56 to $19.08. Finally, those who entered the program earning more than the federal poverty line saw average hourly wages increase by 19%, from $19.84 to $23.53.

The Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research (LZC) developed the report with support from Global Refuge, Walmart, and ICONIQ Impact. The report also provides a community-level portrait of program sites in Baltimore, MD; Denver, CO; Fayetteville, AR; Jacksonville, FL; and Utica, NY; outlines components of the program’s model that add value to workforce programs and cities; and calculates New American Cities’ return on investment to participants and communities.

“Settling in a new country is a challenge in itself for New Americans, but only having access to low-wage, entry-level jobs where they are underutilized makes the process of rebuilding their lives even more daunting,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Global Refuge. “The goal of this program is to dismantle structural barriers preventing refugees and immigrants from achieving economic and career mobility, and in doing so, connect employers to much-needed talent and stimulate local economies and tax bases.”

Many refugees and immigrants bring a wealth of education and job skills with them to the United States, but tend to be under-employed due to refugee employment programs that have historically lacked the resources and infrastructure to provide career advancement opportunities. In 2021, Global Refuge sought to address this issue by launching a two-year pilot workforce development program to enhance collaboration between local governments, workforce centers, employers, and resettlement agencies.

Each New American Cities site hired from within refugee and immigrant communities or ensured staff members were multi-lingual and culturally sensitive to better serve clients. Program staff assisted participants with tailoring their resumes for specific positions and hiring managers, and prepared them for interviews. Additionally, staff helped clients access transportation and childcare, which are two common obstacles to maintaining jobs. Global Refuge estimates that more than 600 New Americans have received assistance, and countless families and communities near program sites have benefited indirectly from the initiative.

“The evidence coming from the New American Cities pilot demonstrates that investing in refugee and immigrant careers benefits entire communities,” said Dr. Jessica Santos, Director of the Leah Zallman Center for Immigrant Health Research. “The underemployment of skilled immigrants costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually. This program does the opposite, creating new skills, networks, and resources. It’s time for cities to zoom out, away from a scarcity perspective of policymaking, to create pathways for economic security and hope for all.”

The report also estimated the tax contributions that participants would make towards their city after 1 year and over 10 years. On average, participant tax contributions after one year equal $6,700 per person more than they would have without the program. Over 10 years, assuming standard cost of living adjustment increases, the average tax contributions going back to the city equal $86,706 per program participant.

The report is titled “New American Cities: Building Pathways to Refugee Economic Security and Hope” and can be downloaded here.

About Global Refuge

Founded in 1939, Global Refuge is the largest faith-based national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant communities in the United States. Through more than 80 years of service and advocacy, Global Refuge has helped over 750,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

The Latest

  • News

    July 8, 2024

    Timeline: Our Advocacy for Afghan Allies

    In early 2021, Global Refuge joined veterans’ groups and resettlement agencies to form the Evacuate our Allies coalition, and we advocate for the continued evacuation of at-risk Afghans and the integration of Afghans already in the United States.

    Read More
  • Press Release

    June 28, 2024

    DHS Extends and Redesignates Haiti for Temporary Protected Status

    The Biden administration announced today the extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti for 18 months from Aug. 4, 2024, to Feb. 3, 2026. 

    Read More
  • Press Release

    June 27, 2024

    At first presidential debate, immigration poised to take the spotlight

    As immigration comes to the forefront, candidates must address the issue with compassion and common sense, grounded in both human rights and practical policy solutions.

    Read More
  • Press Release

    June 18, 2024

    Global Refuge Commends Executive Order Protecting Certain Immigrant Families

    Washington, D.C. – The Biden administration announced today an executive order that will protect certain immigrant spouses and children of U.S. citizens without status currently living in the United States from being removed from the country.

    Read More
  • Press Release

    June 4, 2024

    Biden administration announces additional asylum restrictions

    The Biden administration announced today a proclamation to further restrict asylum eligibility at the southern border for people who cross between official U.S. ports of entry.

    Read More

Share