Thursday, November 24 2022

NEW YORK, July 22 10, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The WES Mariam Assefa Fund today announced US$1 million in grants to eight organizations in the United States and Canada working to change employer practices and develop career paths that support the economic mobility and success of immigrants and refugees.

In the United States, the Fund has awarded grants to African Bridge Network, Center for Southeast Asians, New Mexico Dream Team and One Fair Wage.

The organizations selected for funding in Canada are the Diversity Institute at Metropolitan University of Toronto, the Momentum Centre, Venture 2 Impact and World University Service of Canada.

These grants build on a previous round of funding awarded through an open call for grant applications in the United States and Canada. Selected organizations lead a range of approaches to create better economic opportunities for immigrants.

“To create a fairer labor market and inclusive workplaces for immigrants and refugees, we need to rethink the role of employers in supporting our increasingly diverse workforce,” said Monica Munn , Managing Director of Social Impact at WES. “The Mariam Assefa WES Fund is proud to partner with these eight organizations that ensure employers across the United States and Canada meet the unique needs of job seekers and immigrant workers so they can achieve their goals and thrive.

Several grants announced today focus on specific sectors, including hospitality, technology and social services – industries that provide many employment opportunities for immigrants, but often engage in unfair labor practices and do not focus enough on the quality of jobs.

  • One Fair Wage is expanding the geographic footprint of its U.S.-based High Road training program, which aims to recognize thousands of restaurants that are committed to increasing racial equity and fair wages and helping millions of workers earn higher wages and improve their work environment. Hospitality has been one of the hardest hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply shortages, rising inflation and labor shortages continue to impact recovery, there is therefore an urgent need to bring employers and policymakers together to rethink the quality of jobs.
  • World University Service of Canada Hospitality Industry Hosts Refugee Employment Related Sponsorship Program (HIRES) engages Canadian employers to support the sponsorship and economic integration of refugee workers. This funding will support a year-long research project to explore the success and sustainability of the HIRES program, with the goal of expanding this workplace-led refugee sponsorship initiative across Canada.
  • Venture 2 Impact designs strategies for employers to develop more inclusive workplaces for immigrant and refugee professionals in Canada’s technology and innovation sector. In this fast-growing industry, immigrants are often overlooked and underrepresented. Using a human-centered design that engages both job seekers and employers, this work-integrated learning project aims to help immigrants and refugees access jobs and advance in the sector.
  • African Bridge Network is launching a Consortium for Massachusetts Social Service Employers to collaboratively address challenges and better support the success of immigrants and workers of color. Even before COVID-19, the human services industry was facing labor shortages. The goal is to create a more equitable human services workforce by improving job quality, advancing opportunities for workers and ensuring lower turnover.

In addition to supporting industry practices, the Fund will support organizations working to ensure long-term employment and advancement pathways that specifically address the needs of young people and early-career international students.

  • Momentum Center trains international students in Manitoba, helping them overcome barriers to employment in STEM fields while meeting the talent needs of local employers. TMC will work with the University of Manitoba and other post-secondary institutions to develop work-integrated learning opportunities and identify international students who will participate in the training.
  • New Mexico Dream Team creates and expands pathways of opportunity for immigrant and undocumented youth in New Mexico. Through this grant, the organization will explore curriculum development and training with and for employers, educational institutions, immigrant students and job seekers. Additionally, New Mexico Dream Team seeks to expand its ecosystem of business partners and engage more stakeholders to advance policy change that benefits immigrant and undocumented businesses and youth.
  • The Diversity Institute at Metropolitan University of Toronto helps establish career paths for young immigrants, especially Afghan refugees, in the Greater Toronto Area, Halifax and Calgary through paid work-learning opportunities. Participants will receive employer skills training, internships and additional supports to help them find alternative employment with participating employers and in relevant sectors.

Finally, a grant to the Center for Southeast Asians (CSEA) in Rhode Island aims to support immigrant small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs through business coaching, loans and networking opportunities. This funding will expand CSEA’s employment programs and enable partnerships with local employers who hire immigrants.

About World Education Services and the Mariam Assefa Fund

World Education Services (WES) is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. For more than 45 years, WES has set the standard of excellence in the field of international academic credential assessment. Its philanthropic arm, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, supports leaders and catalytic organizations working to build inclusive economies and ensure that immigrants and refugees can achieve their aspirations and prosper. For more information, visit


Silan Akgul, Senior Communications Officer, [email protected]


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