Most of the world’s 23 million refugees have been living in refugee camps for almost two decades. Less than 1 percent of refugees get out of the camps and come to another country. For those that do, the process takes almost two years.
New Americans deserve a supportive place to learn, find jobs, and get the time and assistance they need to adjust to all the aspects of living in a new culture. Greater Twin Cities United Way and the International Institute of Minnesota have partnered for 80 years to provide that space, helping immigrants and refugees settle and succeed in Minnesota.
“All that desire that has been put on hold for so many years, and in many cases decades, just gets unleashed when refugees come here,” said Jane Graupman, executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota.
The on-site career pathways program has helped many new Americans in the Twin Cities find good wages to support their families and opportunities for advancement. Over 2,000 people have found jobs as nursing assistants, helping to fill a growing employment gap in our region's nursing homes as Minnesota’s population ages. Of those, 500 have gone on to become nurses.
“We started this nursing assistant program 27 years ago,” said Graupman. “A lot of our clients said, ‘We want to go further, we want to be nurses.’ So we got an innovation grant from United Way that allowed us to do some research and dig into what we have to do to help folks move into nursing positions. So that support and trust in us made a huge difference. Long-term funding is rare and it is essential if you are to have good programming.”