Immigrants now constitute 17 percent of the workforce in the U.S., and this number is only growing. In Canada, immigration has accounted for nearly 90 percent of labour force growth in recent years.

The most vibrant economy is one in which immigrants and refugees can access quality jobs and contribute their skills and talents where they are most needed.

The WES Mariam Assefa Fund supports organizations and solutions that seek to eliminate the barriers that prevent such access. As a new funder, we are taking a “learning by doing” approach to our strategy, funding, and partnerships. By orienting our current efforts toward learning, we hope to be nimble and responsive to the needs of the immigrant and refugee integration fields in the U.S. and Canada. What we learn through the Fund’s early years and rounds of funding will ultimately inform our longer-term strategy and contribute more knowledge to the field about which solutions work, why they work, and what’s required for impact at scale.

Our Vision

1

Building Skills and Supports for Workers

Solutions that equip all immigrants and refugees with the tools they need to succeed in today’s economy, and tomorrow’s

2

Improving Employer Practices

Initiatives that build inclusivity and equity, encourage employers to invest in immigrant and refugee talent, and ensure quality jobs

3

Fostering Experimentation and Innovation

Novel or early-stage models for service delivery, funding, and partnerships that unlock economic opportunity for immigrants and refugees

4

Empowering Immigrant Leaders

Efforts that support and empower leaders within immigrant and refugee communities

5

Growing an Ecosystem of Collaborators

Approaches to expand the field of funders, policymakers, educators, employers and service providers focused on immigrant workforce integration

Our Approach

The WES Mariam Assefa Fund believes in the power of leveraged impact. Currently in the U.S. only 1 percent of philanthropic funding from the 1,000 largest foundations goes to immigrant-serving organizations. WES is proud of the philanthropic resources it is able to bring to the U.S. and Canadian immigrant integration sectors; however, we also recognize that it is a drop in the bucket relative to what is needed.

Deploying these resources wisely requires that the WES Mariam Assefa Fund be clear about the values that drive its work, guide its funding practices, and shape its impact.

The values that inform and infuse the WES Mariam Assefa Fund’s grantmaking, investing, partnerships, and knowledge-building efforts are simple. We are:

Transparent

We integrate intentional learning throughout our work and commit to sharing what we learn with others.

People-oriented

Puts the dignity and individual agency of immigrants and refugees at the center of our work and elevates their voices and experiences through our work

Risk-taking

We are committed to using our resources to provide flexible, philanthropic capital that tests and demonstrates the impact of less-proven but promising interventions.

Innovative

We work with our partners to reimagine or combine practices that reduce barriers to scale and impact.

Collaborative

By leveraging additional resources and expertise, we hope to mobilize stakeholders and help develop the field so that impact can deepen.