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Goodwill and Partners Receive Grant to Support Workforce Development Programs for Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Richmond, Va. (Feb. 15, 2019) – A multi-year grant from the Bob & Anna Lou Schaberg Fund at VNHC to Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia (Goodwill) and its collaborators will fund workforce development services for immigrants and refugees in the Richmond area beginning in April 2019. 

Goodwill will deliver the services in partnership with the Sacred Heart Center, the International Refugee Committee and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The nonprofits’ collaboration aims to increase the ability for immigrants and refugees to obtain and retain employment and build career pathways that lead to long-term economic stability. 

“The Bob & Anna Lou Schaberg Fund is making an important investment for coordinated services that will help refugees and immigrants gain a foothold in the workforce and explore opportunities for upward mobility,” said Shawn Smith, Goodwill’s director of community workforce.

Services for the Latino Community

“This is the first time Goodwill will offer co-located services in which we will bring multi-lingual workforce training programs directly to clients in their communities rather than having them visit our employment centers,” added Smith. “We’re able to leverage our partners’ unique skillsets and expertise to serve people who have multiple needs.” 

Through the grant, Goodwill will bring its workforce development services to the Sacred Heart Center in Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Chesterfield office. A Goodwill bi-lingual Career advisor–a person who assists with career plans, resumes and job placement opportunities–will work part-time at nonprofit partner offices to assist Latino clients. After participants secure jobs, they also can access Goodwill’s Success Coaches, mentors who help individuals navigate potential stumbling blocks such as transportation, childcare and housing. 

Goodwill will offer multiple sessions of its RISE (Resume, Interviews, Soft Skills and Empowerment) program at the Sacred Heart Center and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The five-hour workshops focus on skills important for career development and job searches. Digital and financial literacy classes will be offered as well. Workshop participants can take advantage of childcare and transportation services. 

“By leveraging resources and each organization’s unique skills in collaboration, we can make a bigger impact within our community,” said Sacred Heart Executive Director Tanya Gonzalez. “The programs promote self-reliance and workforce participation through an affirming model that works with each individual’s strengths.”

Partnership Offers Credentials, Too

The grant also funds a public-private partnership between Goodwill, the International Rescue Committee, Shamin Hotels and Capital Region Adult Education. The groups will offer three hospitality and customer service credentialing trainings for International Rescue Committee’s English-speaking clients in 2019. 

“Many refugees speak English as a second language but prospective employers don’t know if their work experience from another country translates to the local workplace,” said Smith. “Helping immigrants earn nationally recognized credentials will provide employers with the assurance that individuals have good competencies and are ready to work.”

Serving Immigrants at Goodwill

In 2017, the Bob & Anna Lou Schaberg Fund awarded a one-year planning grant that supported the partners’ collaboration, and awarded the multi-year grant in December 2018 to begin implementing the plan. 

During the planning period, the collaborators identified opportunities to make Goodwill’s Community Employment Centers more inclusive of immigrants, too. Goodwill operates five centers – three in the Richmond area — with a team of professionals who help job seekers prepare for the workforce and find employment.

The new grant will support Goodwill’s efforts to hire bilingual staff, translate forms and documents and incorporate bilingual messaging throughout its operations, provide cultural competency training and promotions to raise awareness of the program.