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NEW YORK, NY—(July 21, 2023) Today, World Education Services (WES) and WES Global Talent Bridge announced the selection of this year’s three organizations that will participate in the third cohort of the Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) Demonstration Opportunity. This iteration of the opportunity will focus on developing innovative practices that create pathways to teaching for internationally trained immigrants and refugees.
The selected participants for the Promoting Equitable Teaching Pathways cohort are Asian Community & Cultural Center in Lincoln, Nebraska; the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois.
WES Global Talent Bridge works to help immigrants and refugees with international credentials fully utilize their training and experience to advance their education and careers in the United States. The SIIP Demonstration Opportunity was launched in 2022 to offer advanced technical assistance, program development, and financial support to partner organizations in the SIIP network which includes 40 communities across the U.S. The two previous cohorts focused on bridging initiatives for internationally trained health care workers and programs that leverage immigrant and refugee professional networks to promote workforce inclusion.
“We are excited to build on the success of the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity and extend support to initiatives that promote the inclusion of immigrants and refugees in the teacher workforce,” said Katherine Gebremedhin, Director of State and Local Initiatives at WES Global Talent Bridge. “This is such a critical area of need in our local communities, and the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity will bolster programs that seek to strengthen U.S. classrooms by creating and developing pathways to teaching.”
For several decades, U.S. school districts have faced teacher workforce shortages, particularly in in-demand subjects like STEM fields, English language learning, and special education. Simultaneously, despite extensive research demonstrating the benefits of culturally and racially diverse educators on the academic performance of all students, the current teacher workforce does not reflect the diversity of the student bodies it serves. Internationally trained immigrants and refugees are well-positioned to help address employment gaps in the teacher workforce, offering in-demand skills, multilingual abilities, and multicultural perspectives. This includes both individuals trained as teachers and those with other relevant subject matter expertise.
Although internationally trained immigrants and refugees are ready to contribute their experience and training to the U.S. teacher workforce, more than a third of those with education degrees from abroad do not practice their profession due to complex and costly requirements to obtain a license or certification in the U.S., a lack of existing teacher preparation programs that build on international education and experience, and a need for increased awareness of how schools hire and support teachers.
Recognizing the need to expand the K-12 educator workforce and building from the work of WES Global Talent Bridge’s Teacher Bridge Project, the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity’s Promoting Equitable Pathways to Teaching cohort seeks to advance more inclusive and equitable teacher workforce opportunities for immigrants and refugees with international experience and education.
The Asian Community & Cultural Center’s CareerLadder program connects skilled immigrants and refugees to career pathways, digital resources, and a professional network while fostering economic opportunity and restoring dignity through work. In partnership with Lincoln Literacy, a community-based organization, CareerLadder hopes to use this opportunity to expand its programming and services for immigrant educators as they navigate their professional paths toward licensure and employment in Nebraska. Furthermore, they hope to expand their programming in Lincoln to support internationally trained immigrants and refugees in South Sioux City.
The Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Equity in the City of Tulsa launched Flourish Tulsa with a multisector network to support internationally trained immigrants and refugees’ entry into careers that more closely align with their previous education, career experience, and expertise. Armed with a newly published Education Career Pathways guide, Tulsa will test innovative approaches to make these pathways a reality for immigrant and refugees hoping to enter the teaching profession in Tulsa. In partnership with local public and charter schools, and many other community-based organizations, the city hopes to pilot more holistic programming that will encompass support and best practices from organizations such as the Tulsa Teacher Corps as well as other wrap around services including contextualized ELL courses to assist participants in reaching their goals.
Richard J. Daley College empowers its diverse community to achieve goals through innovative education and programming in a supportive, inclusive, and equitable environment for lifelong learning. The college is home to the Center for Equity in Immigrant Integration and recently opened the Chicago Welcome Back Center. The Chicago Welcome Back Center will widen its focus beyond health care careers to include internationally educated immigrants asylum-seekers, and refugees hoping to return to or enter the teaching profession. In this new education pathway program, the center will provide training and wraparound services to participants and hopes to create an employment pipeline to the Archdioceses of Chicago’s Catholic K-12 education system, the Chicago Public School system. and Options Schools among others.
“As communities across the U.S. face deepening teacher workforce shortages, we must invest in promising solutions that address these gaps and reflect our increasingly diverse classrooms,” said Esther Benjamin, CEO and Executive Director of WES. “Through this year’s cohort of the SIIP Demonstration Opportunity, WES is reinforcing our support of workforce inclusion strategies by focusing on this area of need. And we are looking to classrooms as a place to advance our mission of helping society recognize the value of people’s education and experience.”
World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise that supports the educational, economic, and social inclusion of immigrants, refugees, and international students. For nearly 50 years, WES has set the standard for international academic credential evaluation, supporting millions of people as they seek to achieve their academic and professional goals. Through decades of experience as a leader in global education, WES has developed a wide range of tools to pursue social impact at scale. From evaluating academic credentials to shaping policy, designing programs, and providing philanthropic funding, we partner with a diverse set of organizations, leaders, and networks to uplift individuals and drive systems change. Together with its partners, WES enables people to learn, work, and thrive in new places.
The Skilled Immigrant Integration Program (SIIP) offers communities an opportunity to leverage technical assistance from WES and its national partners, and to join a network of communities to further their state and local immigrant economic integration initiatives. The SIIP network consists of 40 member communities from cities, states, and regions across the United States. The current member communities are Atlanta, Georgia; Anchorage, Alaska; Northwest Arkansas; Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho and Salt Lake City, Utah; Boston, Massachusetts; Brattleboro, Vermont; Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Colorado; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Eugene, Oregon; Indiana; Lincoln, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; Howard County, Maryland; Maryland; Michigan; Minnesota; Nevada; New Jersey; New York, New York; Northwest Arkansas; Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Portland, Maine; Portland, Oregon; Salem, Oregon; San Diego, California; Santa Clara, California; Seattle, Washington; South Bend, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Utah; and Virginia.
For more information contact Mikaela Santos, Senior Program Manager, World Education Services Global Talent Bridge at [email protected].