About Upwardly Global

We are the premier national organization working to support immigrants and refugees with international credentials to restart their careers in the United States.

The Challenge

Newcomers to the U.S. are more educated than at any other time in our history: 45% of recently-arrived immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet more than 2 million immigrants and refugees who have degrees and professional work experience from their home countries face systemic barriers that leave them unemployed or working in low wage jobs in the United States. Upwardly Global is the first and longest-serving national organization that helps these individuals restart their careers and bring their skills and perspectives into the American workforce.
  • 45% of recently-arrived immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Newcomers to the U.S. are more educated than at any other time in our history
Yet, nearly 2 million college-educated immigrants and refugees are unemployed or underemployed. They face many cultural and structural barriers to regaining their careers

Our Impact

Upwardly Global’s innovative skill-building and networking programs coach internationally trained professionals in rebuilding professional careers and U.S. employers in accessing their talents with inclusive hiring practices. To date, Upwardly Global has placed more than 7,500 people, adding $358 million to the economy each year. Learn more about our impact from our annual reports and financial statements and this Upwardly Global 2020 summary.

Our Mission, Vision, and Values

Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals, and advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy. We envision an equitable, welcoming country where everyone–including immigrants, refugees, and asylees–can fully contribute and thrive. Upwardly Global is committed to using our knowledge and experience to build the field and shift systems to advance inclusion. We support employer change practices including diverse hiring, promotion and retention through our work with employer partners; we share our resources and learning tools with front-line immigrant organizations and workforce providers (including government agencies and community organizations) through our Jobversity program, and we lift up the stories and support policy priorities that can move people and advance this work.

Our History

Founded in 2000 by Jane Leu, Upwardly Global is the first and longest-serving organization focused on advancing the meaningful inclusion of immigrants and refugees who have international credentials into the U.S. workforce. Today, Upwardly Global has offices in four major cities and works with thousands job seekers across the country every year to support their full inclusion in the U.S. workforce, and to share our learnings broadly to promote positive systems change.

Our Story

Three decades ago, Jane Leu, a refugee resettlement caseworker and social entrepreneur, toured a New York poultry processing plant that was considered a model employer for refugees. The plant owner introduced her to two standout employees: one had been an engineer in Iraq and the other a surgeon in Bosnia. The meeting was eye-opening to Jane: How many other internationally-trained professionals were working in subsistence jobs that did not utilize their professional skills? What did these individuals–and the country–lose with these missed opportunities?

At her kitchen table, Jane crafted a plan that would become the first organization focused on connecting an estimated two million un- and under-employed immigrants and refugees living in the U.S. with pathways to professional success, while also working to advance the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce. 

Business plan in hand, she recognized that the organization needed a name: “I wanted to express the mutual benefit of immigrant inclusion: economic mobility for immigrants and refugees, with the benefits of global mindsets–diversity, resilience and innovation–for our country.” 

Upwardly Global was born in 1999 – the first organization to focus on workforce inclusion of immigrants and refugees with international credentials. Over 20 years later, we are a leading national nonprofit that has supported more than 18,000 internationally trained professionals and U.S. employers in succeeding together. 

Over two decades, the organization has grown to have offices in four cities across the country, remote jobseekers in other states and a digital infrastructure to scale its work nationally. With the leadership of three visionary female CEOs, Upwardly Global’s work has received numerous national awards and recognitions, and is cited internationally as a standard for inclusion and innovation. Today, we remain committed to advancing the powerful vision of a nation where everyone–including  immigrants and refugees–can contribute and thrive. 

Our Timeline

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