Upwardly Global’s Support for Afghan Evacuees to Date
Our work to support newly arrived Afghan evacuees continues to expand. Upwardly Global has launched an ambitious initiative to support this community in rebuilding their careers. As 20–30% of evacuees have professional training and are proficient in English, we need their significant skills and talent in the U.S. workforce. Our goal over the next 18 months is to provide one-on-one career coaching service to 1,400 Afghans, and access to our job readiness and learning management system to an additional 5,000.
MEETING AFGHAN EVACUEES AT THE POINT OF ENTRY
After having been in transit for a week or more, Afghan evacuees arrive at military bases in the U.S. The “Safe Havens”, as they are known, are the first stop in the U.S., but by no means the last, on their resettlement journey. We are meeting the evacuees right at the point of entry — we have staff based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey and have expanded to set up career centers at the other Safe Havens before they close.
At both Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia and Fort Bliss in Texas, we conducted two days of outreach, information sessions, group and individual application assistance.
We have mobilized quickly during the holidays to expand our efforts at Fort Holloman in New Mexico, Fort Pickett in Virginia, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, and Camp Atterbury in Indiana.
Engagement among job-seekers at the Safe Haven sites has exceeded expectations. To this end, Upwardly Global has recruited and is in the process of onboarding 4 Afghan Employment Services Advisors to support the application and enrollment process. Guidance provided by fellow evacuees will overcome language barriers and ensure culturally competent care.
We are also conducting targeted outreach to evacuees who have already left the bases, including (but not limited to) the U.S. Department of State’s formerly employed staff in Kabul.
Additionally, we have strengthened our credibility among stakeholders and key policy influencers. During his visit to Fort Dix with White House Operation Allies Welcome Coordinator Jack Markell and other representatives, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) lauded the impact of our program. The group viewed a short presentation and met with job seekers, and Coons hailed Upwardly Global’s services as vital to the successful resettlement of the Afghan population. “Seeing the incredible work of Upwardly Global and their CEO Jina Krause-Vilmar gives me hope and joy as these families begin a brand new chapter.”
In the past three + months, we have:
- Provided over $600,000 of humanitarian support to address immediate short-term needs, bringing in aid to Fort Dix in the form of 10,000 rolls of toilet paper, 25,000 hygiene kits, coats, boots, shoes and strollers — leveraging significant goodwill and partnerships with Accenture, Bloomberg, Afya Foundation and the Jewish community in Westchester and NYC
- Launched our Afghan rapid response portal with job readiness e-learning pathways for all English-proficient Afghans, and added up/reskilling courses organized by career pathway. This portal has been accessed by 1,600 individuals since October alone
- Set up Career Readiness Centers and programming at multiple Safe Havens, bringing in laptops, Wi-Fi, headsets and of course our training and coaching program so the evacuees have the tools they need to pursue their careers
- Provided live weekly job search readiness sessions and a system for Afghans to reserve computers during the week
- Received 800+ applications from Afghan evacuees since last Sep for our services
TEAMING UP WITH WORKFORCE PARTNERS
To map out career services and ensure continuity of service, appropriate referrals, and trauma-informed services, we are partnering with refugee resettlement agencies and workforce providers. To this end, we:
- Partnered with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement with a $1.5 million grant to reach other Safe Havens and replicate parts of the Fort Dix model to reach more evacuees before they are resettled, and to stay with them throughout the career rebuilding process
- Are exploring partnerships with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), HIAS, and other resettlement agencies to establish referrals from their affiliate network to Upwardly Global for relevant jobseekers
- Are collaborating with Talent Beyond Boundaries, Hiring Our Heroes, and other nonprofit partners for cross-referrals
The evacuees coming from Afghanistan have gone through untold dislocation and trauma, and the resettlement process is challenging — the Office of Refugee Resettlement provides up to three months of support and benefits for another five before refugees are expected to provide for themselves.
As many will need to take on subsistence level jobs in the short-term, our goal is to continue to work with the evacuees to pursue educational and career opportunities that align with their professional backgrounds. There’s no reason it can’t happen: there are some 5.5 million job openings in our key cities in industries like finance, information technology, healthcare, logistics, and operations; and we’ve already seen several success stories:
- A Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipient who worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and had 8 years of experience arrived in September and resettled in the DMV area. After resume and coaching work and starting some online classes, he received a job as a construction scheduler and is earning $125,000/year
- An evacuee who was a financial analyst with USAID and arrived here in August. She joined our program in October, and we were able to help her secure a job as a financial planning analyst making $90,000/year
- An SIV evacuee who arrived in late September and had worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; we helped place him into a construction scheduling position, earning over $100,000/year.
- An SIV evacuee who worked alongside the U.S. military / Civil Service Commission as an interpreter/translator, including on finance, HR and accounting projects; she is one of our Fort Dix clients and is now working as an accountant making $55,000/year.
But there is still so much left to do! Seventy thousand Afghan evacuees have arrived since August, most of whom are still on military bases; and 25,000+ more are waiting to come.
As we continue this work, we need you: to volunteer as mentors, or for short-term resume support; to provide financial support by donating to our Haven Fund; and by bringing this remarkable array of talented individuals into your workplaces.
For questions or more information about this work, please contact us