WES Global Talent Bridge is committed to creating more equitable and inclusive workforces and economies that fully recognize and champion the credentials, education, and experience of immigrants and refugees — and engaging states and local communities is central to this work.
Through two programs — the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) and the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity — WES Global Talent Bridge offers technical assistance, coaching, and network building to support state and local governments, non-profit organizations, community colleges, and other stakeholders in building and scaling promising practices in immigrant and refugee workforce inclusion.
The WES Global Talent Bridge state and local team is also a co-convener of the Office of New Americans Network, a forum for state policy leaders to drive positive change that supports immigrant integration into the workforce and economy.
The Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) supports cities, regions, and states in advancing the inclusion of internationally trained and experienced immigrants and refugees. Since its launch in 2017, 40 SIIP communities — from Alaska to Maine to Texas — have benefited from the program’s customized training, coaching, and technical assistance to advance sustainable state and local inclusion efforts.
Communities selected to participate in this competitive program are convened by a lead agency that coordinates with a local network of multi-sector stakeholders and demonstrates a commitment to fostering the career success of immigrants and refugees. To date, SIIP has engaged five cohorts of communities in the program.
The 14 sites in SIIP’s sixth cohort represent a combination of new communities and SIIP Network alumni communities that are committed to advancing the workforce inclusion of immigrants and refugees across the U.S., including:
Participants in the 2023-2024 program are divided into three subcohorts focused on the following themes: Developing Initiatives in the Field of Immigrant and Refugee Economic Inclusion, Creating Strategies to Promote Employer Engagement, and the SIIP Alumni Exchange.
The SIIP Demonstration Opportunity further advances investments in WES Global Talent Bridge partners and SIIP alumni organizations’ efforts to develop promising workforce inclusion initiatives.
After providing expertise and coaching to 40 SIIP alumni/partner communities, WES Global Talent Bridge is deepening investments in engaged organizations that are demonstrating innovative approaches to promoting immigrant and refugee workforce inclusion. SIIP Demonstration Opportunity participants receive technical and financial assistance to increase their impact and advance their capacity to develop programs with potential for replication throughout the U.S.
Proposals focused on bridging initiatives for internationally trained educators — an area with high demand for promising programs and initiatives that can be implemented at scale.
The 40+ communities in the SIIP and SIIP Demonstration Opportunity networks took full advantage of the partnerships and resources to develop and execute plans to advance their immigration and refugee inclusion efforts. Read more about how SIIP alumni and partners succeeded in fostering employer engagement, local and regional partnership building, and engaging community colleges:
Any community interested in creating resources and/or programs to promote the economic inclusion and full workforce participation of internationally trained and educated immigrants and refugees can apply to join the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP). Communities interested in applying should include a strong lead agency to take responsibility for coalescing, convening, and supporting the work with WES Global Talent Bridge and technical assistance providers. Previous lead agencies have included city government, state government, workforce boards, community colleges, non-profits, and CBOs. Participation in the program requires a robust network of multi-sector stakeholders with a commitment to engage as a community of practice, both during and after the conclusion of the program.
Over the course of the program year, WES Global Talent Bridge and other national experts provide each of the selected communities with hands-on coaching, advising, and technical assistance as well as four interactive web-based training sessions on immigrant and refugee economic inclusion. Additional support and training are provided at an in-person convening, where participants can learn more about local, statewide, and national program models and best practices and engage in round-table work sessions to move forward with their goals.
In addition to the above, participants in the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity receive direct funding and more dedicated technical assistance with providers of their choosing.
Communities participating in SIIP and the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity are:
Provided a framework based on tangible goals and a condensed timeline within which these communities can form new partnerships and strengthen existing relationships
Assisted in developing new resources and in planning convenings to share resources and strategies that improve the career advancement opportunities of internationally educated immigrants
Given access to a national network with the goal of improving local resources by sharing best practices and providing mutual inspiration to try new approaches
Able to deepen connections with peers and form new alliances to revitalize initiatives and engage government and community stakeholders
Communities participating in the SIIP program year meet with their subcohorts virtually once a month and quarterly as a full cohort, and in a SIIP network training also held quarterly that is open to all communities past and present. Apart from these virtual meetings, all SIIP communities are invited to attend an annual in-person national convening.
Communities have an opportunity to apply for the SIIP program year each summer. Applications for the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity are open to SIIP alumni and select WES Global Talent Bridge partner organizations and open every year and a half. Sign up on our website to receive the latest application updates and to learn more.
Katherine Gebremedhin is the Director of State and Local Initiatives at World Education Services (WES) Global Talent Bridge. She has extensive experience developing and leading multi-sector networks and programming focused on the integration of internationally trained immigrants and refugees. Katherine currently leads WES’s Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP), a robust community of practice of 40 communities working to further state and local inclusion initiatives. Katherine also co-convenes (with partners, AIC) the Office of New Americans (ONA) Network, which provides a forum for state policy leaders to drive positive change that supports immigrant and refugee integration into the workforce and economy.
Leticia “Lety” Farrera is the daughter of two internationally trained professionals (ITP) and has dedicated her career to opening up opportunities for ITPs and their families. She has 10 years of Higher Education and Adult Education experience and now serves as the SIIP Program Manager for WES Global Talent Bridge.
Mikaela Santos is the daughter of Filipino immigrants and is passionate about using data and research to inform decision making and advocate for change. She has 10 years of experience in data analysis and project management at various nonprofits, research centers, and school districts and is now a Senior Program Manager for WES Global Talent Bridge’s SIIP Demonstration Opportunity.
Trevor Shealy is a Program Specialist at WES Global Talent Bridge, working closely with the SIIP Alumni Network. Prior to this role, he supported immigrants and refugees as the Senior Program and Administrative Coordinator for WES Global Talent Bridge and has previously worked with several of WES Global Talent Bridge’s partners in support of immigrant and refugee inclusion at local, state, national, and international levels. A highlight of Trevor’s career is interpreting (Arabic and Persian) for recently resettled refugees in Charlottesville, Virginia.