We navigated a challenging 2020, marked by a global pandemic, record-level job losses, escalating inequality, and the start of a national racial reckoning. Upwardly Global’s community of immigrant and refugee professionals were deeply impacted by these forces, which hit women, Black, indigenous, immigrant and people of color the hardest. Even in the best of times, our community experiences unemployment and underemployment at heartbreaking rates and most live at or under the poverty line. In a survey of our job seekers just weeks into the pandemic, nearly half reported losing “transition” jobs; 70% reported having one month or less of savings; and one in three spoke about mental health challenges and feelings of isolation.
It’s easy to dwell on the challenges. Yet early in the pandemic, one of our job seekers wrote a note that epitomized the courage and perseverance we saw in our community throughout the year and that has motivated us every day since: “I have the potential and ability to serve my country, and I hope there is a chance to do so.”