U.S. Funding Opportunity: Employer Practices

We are looking to identify promising new ideas from organizations working with employers to advance more inclusive practices that improve economic mobility for immigrant and refugee workers 

This funding opportunity is now closed.


Immigrant workers in the U.S. represent 17 percent of the labor force, and yet are also 21.3 percent of low-wage workers, despite their wide range of skills, education, and experience. Better career pathways and training programs for workers in low-wage jobs are essential in helping immigrants and refugees achieve economic mobility and security; however, they alone are not enough.

Research supports the business rationale for investing in workers and creating good jobs. Beyond the benefits to individual employers, immigrant workers are critical to future economic growth in the U.S. more broadly. With declining U.S. birth rates and an aging workforceimmigrants and refugees are key to a vibrant economy.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted immigrant and refugee workers, it has also highlighted the experiences of workers whose voices have not previously been heard. Looking ahead, we have a unique opportunity to harness this moment and build back an economy centered on workers’ success, and an economy that addresses the structural barriers individuals may experience due to race and ethnicity, gender, immigrant, refugee, or other identities.  

Since the Fund first launched in 2019, we’ve been learning from our grantee partners who are working to improve employer practices, including through high-road partnerships and demand-driven training programsWe are now building on this work and are looking for additional partners to learn alongside us and who are committed to creating a more inclusive economy for all. 

The Opportunity

This funding opportunity is now closed. Letters of intent (LOIs) were accepted through November 15, 2021.

Following the review of LOIs, selected organizations will be invited to submit a full proposal.  Awardees will receive grants that are up to two years in length and range up to $150,000. Selected applicants will become grantee partners of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund as part of the Fund’s partner community and have access to peer-learning, capacity building, and other programming.

Please be sure to first read through the full details on this page and in our FAQs. Then, eligible organizations may submit LOIs through our online application portal, SurveyMonkey Apply. You will need to create an account there first.

All LOIs must be submitted through SurveyMonkey Apply. Paper applications and applications sent by email will not be accepted.


We’re looking to fund ideas from organizations to directly engage employers to: 

  • Shift internal talent practices to reduce bias in recruitment and hiring, build more inclusive workplaces, and invest in the advancement of incumbent immigrant and refugee talent. 
  • Pilot demand-driven training and education programs that connect immigrant and refugee job seekers to quality jobs, particularly in high-growth sectors. 
  • Build coalitions within or across sectors to advance commitments and facilitate knowledge sharing and collective action among employers. 
  • Assess the impact of existing employer initiatives focused on immigrant and refugee workers to identify the path forward for those solutions. 

2022 Key Dates

November 15, 2021
Letter of Intent (LOI) forms due
November 2021 - February 2022
LOIs reviewed by staff and external reviewers
Late February 2022
Application notifications: declination or invitation to submit full proposal
Late March 2022
Full proposals due (if invited to submit)
May 2022
Final notifications
June 2022
Anticipated grant start date


Beyond the WES Mariam Assefa Fund team, a group of external reviewers will review LOIs and select applicants to move to the full proposal stage. We’re thrilled to be working with the following leaders who will share their perspectives and experiences to help with the selection process.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be reviewed using the following seven criteria areas:


Does the initiative put forth a compelling vision for the advancement of immigrants and refugees that is informed by and responsive to community needs?

Informed by Workers and Employers

To what extent is the initiative informed by and responsive to the needs of immigrant and refugee workers, as well as employers?


What impact is it striving to achieve and how timely is the solution?  To what extent could this initiative contribute to systemic change?  

Partnership Orientation

Does your team authentically and intelligently collaborate with partners, when appropriate, to increase the project’s capacity?


Do the project’s leaders understand the key considerations and resources required to successfully execute the envisioned project?

Potential for Learning

Would the project result in lessons useful for the field, including models for replicability and scale? 


Does the initiative propose a new or improved approach to addressing the challenge identified?