Patrick Administration Announces Grant to Enhance Citizenship, Job Training and Educational Services for Refugees and Immigrants

The following is a reprint with permission of an Executive Office of Health and Human Services press release. Press inquiries may also be directed to: Julie Kaviar [HHS] – 617- 573-1610 | or Marcony Almeida-Barros [ORI] – 617-988-3451

Obama Administration grant will help Massachusetts provide training and other services to more than 5,000 refugees and immigrants  

May 22, 2014 Lynn— Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz today announced that the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) has been awarded a grant to enhance vocational,ORI_photo_article educational, and citizenship assistance to refugees and immigrants across the Commonwealth. The nearly $400,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will place 90 AmeriCorps members across Massachusetts who will provide training and support to over 5,000 refugees and immigrants over the next three years.

“We thank the Obama Administration for its continued support and recognition of our Commonwealth’s commitment to immigrants and refugees,” said HHS Secretary Polanowicz. “Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, Massachusetts has long supported expanding growth and opportunity for all residents of the Commonwealth, and this partnership with AmeriCorps has been a critical component of fulfilling that mission.”

The announcement was made at the New Americans Center in Lynn, where Secretary Polanowicz joined ORI’s Executive Director Josiane Martinez along with local leaders and participating organizations.

One of the largest CNCS programs nationwide, the Massachusetts New Americans Integration Program will host 30 AmeriCorps members annually for the next three years in 30 sites across the Commonwealth. The members will provide job readiness training, vocational English for speakers of other languages instruction, citizenship assistance, and English language interpretation for social services to immigrant and refugee communities across the Commonwealth.

“This grant will help dedicated AmeriCorps members and the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants provide critical training and support to thousands of hardworking residents who came to the Commonwealth to build new opportunities for themselves and their families,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m proud of Massachusetts’ strong AmeriCorps partnerships, and I applaud Governor Patrick, Secretary Polanowicz, and ORI for their efforts to secure this funding and for their commitment to supporting immigrants and refugees across the Commonwealth.”

The program will focus on advancing economic opportunity and providing job training and skill development services to economically disadvantaged individuals.

"This grant will help to ensure that the newest members of our Commonwealth will have access to the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in and enrich our communities,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “I thank Governor Patrick for his leadership and all of the AmeriCorps members for their passion and commitment.”

Each year, the program is expected to provide vocational English and job readiness training to 800 refugees, and citizenship assistance to 900 eligible lawful permanent residents, leading to substantive and demonstrable outcomes in improved client employability, English proficiency, and citizenship attainment.

“Immigrants compose nearly 20 percent of the state’s workforce population and are a driving force in our economy,” said ORI Executive Director Martinez.”This grant will help create economic growth and prepare thousands to be part of Massachusetts’ success story.”

With the enhanced services provided by AmeriCorps members, participating refugees and immigrants will achieve improved employability, increased English proficiency and higher naturalization levels. More than 85 percent of clients participating in ORI vocational service programs find paid employment.

The CNCS investment in the New Americans program is $389,000, and will be matched with $275,119 in additional funding from program’s host sites and in-kind contributions.

“By focusing on job training, MIRA and its collaborating partners are showing that integration is not only a cultural process, but an economic one, in which closer ties also result in higher earnings and brighter futures,” said Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), who stressed how the employment focus fits into MIRA’s mission to advance immigrant integration.

ORI’s mission is to promote the full participation of refugees and immigrants as self-sufficient individuals and families in the economic, social, and civic life of Massachusetts. Under the Patrick Administration, ORI has increased access to services like education, employment, housing and citizenship for more than 32,000 refugees and immigrants who go on to start the families and businesses that drive our economy.