WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners

Upwardly Global

Photo Courtesy: Upwardly Global

Category: Employer Practices

Amount: USD$300,000

Term: Aug. 2021 – Jan. 2023

Focus: Upwardly Global is designing and launching tools to support corporate DEI programs, develop sector-specific cohorts to ensure successful immigrant integration and advancement in the workplace, and advocate for policies to foster an inclusive economic recovery.

About Upwardly Global

Founded in 2000, Upwardly Global is a leading U.S. non-profit supporting college-educated immigrants, refugees, and asylees in successfully transitioning their education, skills, and previous professional experience to the U.S. workforce. To date, the organization has assisted more than 6,500 people in successfully rebuilding professional careers in the U.S. Upwardly Global envisions an equitable, more welcoming nation where everyone—including immigrants, refugees, and asylees—can fully contribute and thrive.

What type of work is the grant enabling?

With the support of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, Upwardly Global is designing, piloting, and launching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) products and resources for a wide range of employers, including small, medium-sized, and Fortune 500 enterprises, to improve immigrant and refugee recruitment, hiring, and long-term workplace inclusion and advancement.  

Upwardly Global connects employers and job seekers through industry-specific Career Communities. They also help job seekers build professional networks, make informed decisions around skills-building, and prepare job seekers to fill high-opportunity roles in fields of Technology, Engineering, Healthcare, Finance, and Business/Logistics. 

Additionally, Upwardly Global is advocating for policies outlined in their roadmap to support immigrant and refugee workers in advancing an inclusive post-COVID economic recovery. As part of this effort, they are leveraging their employer relationships and alumni network to elevate their stories and experiences to help craft comprehensive reforms that create equity for all workers. 

Why is this work important?

Integrating immigrant and refugee talent into the workforce, as well as supporting that talent’s advancement, yields benefits for employers, the economy, and the wider community. However, pervasive un- and underemployment of immigrants with foreign education and training—a WES-MPI study found that as many as 1.9 million were un- or underemployed in 2014—suggests that current employer practices are ill-suited to serve the needs of this workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare intersectional challenges of record unemployment, structural inequalities in the economy, and systemic racism that largely left people of color, including many immigrants and refugees, to bear the brunt of the impact, amplifying the urgency of fostering immigrant and refugee workforce inclusion.  

By leveraging its job placement expertise and extensive network of employer partners, Upwardly Global is uniquely positioned to design well-rounded support systems that employers can use to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse nation. 


Past Grant

Term: October 2019 – July 2020 

Amount: USD$250,000 

Focus: Upwardly Global partnered with a wide range of employers to design and pilot new tools that will enable human resources teams and other key stakeholders to better support immigrant and refugee talent, from recruiting and hiring through workplace integration and career advancement. 

Visit Upwardly Global’s website for insights on this work and on how business leaders can continue building an inclusive workforce amid COVID-19.