Upwardly Global Announces New Project with Lumina Foundation

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Upwardly Global, with support from Lumina Foundation – an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all – is excited to announce a 12-month project aimed at understanding how community colleges can better connect immigrant and refugee students to workforce opportunities and inclusion.

Immigrants and refugees in the U.S. have long relied on their local community colleges to help facilitate social and economic inclusion in their new home. Community colleges serve as an essential (and often the most affordable) gateway to vocational training, English language support, peer-to-peer engagement and other opportunities for immigrants to further their education, launch their career, and build out their personal and professional networks.

The need for community colleges to build out more intentional strategies to support immigrant students is more urgent than ever. Recent data from the Migration Policy Institute affirmed that the number of college-educated immigrants is on the rise in nearly every state across the U.S. Yet, over 2 million of these newcomers are currently unemployed or underemployed, with Black and Latino immigrants experiencing the highest levels of labor market exclusion. Community colleges – alongside other workforce and immigrant-serving organizations – are among the institutions best positioned to mitigate this challenge and meet the needs of this growing population. And while their direct connections to immigrant communities make them an ideal stakeholder for fostering this population’s access to the workforce and economic opportunity, community colleges face numerous challenges in addressing the unique needs of this diverse population.

With a new grant awarded by Lumina, Upwardly Global will develop and implement a needs assessment with select community college partners aimed at understanding their unique immigrant student populations, best practices and gaps in career services offerings, and identifying appropriate resources and strategies that can be adopted by community colleges to better eliminate barriers to gainful employment. We aim to empower community colleges to help improve immigrant students’ employability, prepare them to navigate their local labor markets, and equip them with the skills needed to build out promising career pathways in high-demand fields and thrive in the workforce long-term.

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Upwardly Global is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals, and advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy. 

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

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