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City of Seattle
Mike McGinn (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor announces grant awards for innovative job training for immigrant/refugee youth and their families

4/20/2012  12:54:00 PM

Mayor announces grant awards for innovative job training
for immigrant/refugee youth and their families
$465,000 in City funds awarded to six community agencies

SEATTLE – Mayor Mike McGinn today announced grant awards to six community agencies for an innovative new program to help immigrant and refugee young people prepare for the workplace with training that is coordinated with support for parents.

The City will provide $465,000 for the program, funding that was awarded through a competitive Request for Investment (RFI) process. Applications for the RFI were issued in January 2012. Seventeen agencies applied of which six were selected for funding.

"Our diverse population is one of Seattle's strengths," said Mayor McGinn. "And our job training efforts need to recognize and build on our diversity. One of the common themes at last year's community meetings for the Youth & Families Initiative was the need to provide culturally relevant job readiness training to refugee and immigrant youth. Today's announcement is part of our response to what we heard."

The grant award recipients are as follows:

  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance
  • Horn of Africa
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Open Doors for Multicultural Families

The program targets low-income youth, 15-20 years old, and their families who speak the nine most common non-English languages spoken in Seattle Public Schools:
- Amharic
- Cambodian  
- Chinese        
- Filipino
- Oromiffa       
- Somali          
- Spanish        
- Tigrinya
- Vietnamese

Immigrant and refugee youth, ages 15 to 20, have the lowest high school graduation rates. At the same time, immigrant and refugee parents face multiple challenges making a successful transition to life in America such as obtaining a living wage job and overcoming language barriers. Most parent education for immigrant and refugee parents are focused on families with younger children.

Program Services

The Integrated Job Readiness Training for Immigrant and Refugee Youth and Families program features

  • Family-based approach to job readiness training for immigrant and refugee youth coordinated with support for parents
  • Co-location of youth and parent services
  • Family self-sufficiency classes for both youth and parents
  • Bilingual job readiness training for youth with paid summer employment
  • Bilingual parent education to expand  understanding of American schools including postsecondary education and career pathways

The goals of the program are that services will contribute to fewer student absences from school; facilitate better communication between parents and schools; improve youth job readiness skills and identification of career interests; and improve youth and family self-sufficiency skills and exploration of post secondary options.

Administered by the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD), the job training program is unique in its approach to include both established agencies that serve immigrants and refugees and smaller "developing" agencies that are based in the community. Applying for government funds can be complex and time consuming so HSD provided added technical assistance through a series of workshops and hands-on training to help agencies apply.

Additional materials and photos:

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