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Two events last week highlighted the crucial role that municipal leaders and US employers can play in facilitating the skill-building and economic integration of refugees and immigrants.
First, the White House announced a Call to Action for the U.S. private sector to make new, measurable and significant commitments that will have a durable impact on refugees.
The Call to Action is being issued as part of a suite of activities in advance of an international Leaders’ Summit being convened by President Obama this coming September. It is focused on generating new commitments in three impact areas:
The Call to Action highlighted fifteen founding companies that have already taken significant action on refugee issues both in the US and abroad, including support for English language, digital literacy, and employability skills. The companies are: Accenture, Airbnb, Chobani, Coursera, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co., LinkedIn, Microsoft, Mastercard, UPS, TripAdvisor, and Western Union.
The second event brought approximately 150 local leaders to the White House to recognize their work in integrating immigrant refugee newcomers in their communities via the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign (BWCC).
National Skills Coalition is one of the national partners for the BWCC, serving as a resource for policy questions related to workforce and adult education issues. NSC Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock attended the White House event.
More than 50 American cities and counties have now joined the campaign, which formally launched last year. The White House released a report detailing “Bright Spots” in immigrant and refugee integration policies across dozens of the communities, including:
Attendees at the BWCC event were welcomed by Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC). Other federal officials addressing the gathering included: Leon Rodriguez, Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services; Rohan Patel, Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs; and Felicia Escobar, also of the DPC.
Also speaking at the event was Rachel Peric, deputy director of the nonprofit Welcoming America, who noted the rapid growth of the welcoming effort: “Just a few years ago it was 10 cities, and now we’re at 50.” She added: “The question is not whether our communities will change… it is how we will make the most of that change in ways that will strengthen our civic fabric.”
The event concluded with a panel of federal officials, who described steps taken in their agencies to support refugee and immigrant skill-building and integration: