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Press Release // Empowering Refugees

LIRS Receives Walmart Grant to Establish Service Sector Pathways Program

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LIRS Staff

May 9, 2019

Media Contact: Rebecca Heller | | 410-230-2746

BALTIMORE, MD — Today, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) announces the establishment of a new program, Service Sector Pathways for New Americans.  Made possible through a grant from Walmart, Service Sector Pathways is a unique program model designed to foster long-term economic mobility among refugees and migrants.

“New Americans face unique obstacles to career-building—and refugees who lack skills in literacy, math, and technology often remain in entry-level positions for most of their lives,” explained Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President & CEO of LIRS. “This program is designed to help them build the skills needed to break through that glass ceiling.”

LIRS will work with affiliates in Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO; Denver, CO; Fayetteville, AR; Jacksonville, FL; and Phoenix, AZ to implement Service Sector Pathways. LIRS affiliates will hire career navigators and work with each program participant to complete a customized upskilling plan, which identifies professional goals and includes in-person, monthly progress meetings.

“We’re excited to help open doors to new careers for these very capable, new Americans,” said Danielle Goonan, senior manager, opportunity grant portfolio for Walmart. “We are committed to supporting programs that create upskilling and lifelong learning opportunities for frontline service workers.”

Having resettled refugees in America for 80 years, LIRS has decades of experience working through the distinct obstacles that face new Americans—and our partner agencies on the ground are uniquely equipped to bring this program to life.

“This grant from Walmart supports a program that will provide the individuals we serve with a special opportunity to break through the barriers many immigrants face in advancing their careers and personal growth as new Americans,” said Aaron Du Bay, Program Director for Refugee & Asylee programs at Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in Albuquerque.

“It’s been hard for us to watch some of our truly brilliant, highly-motivated refugee neighbors remain stuck in entry-level, minimum-wage jobs just because they don’t know how to navigate themselves into a meaningful career,” said Emily Crane Linn, Resettlement Director at Canopy Northwest Arkansas. “With Walmart’s support, we will guide new Americans onto a career path that will maximize their talents and contributions in the community.”

For updates on the program’s progress, connect with us on social media @LIRSorg

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is one of the largest immigration and refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership working with and advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

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