Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Sustainability Programs prepare community members to obtain employment. Through the development of personalized employment plans, resumes, interview skills, financial literacy, and strong relationships with employers, ACC achieves impressive employment outcomes. In FY2016, 428 community members secured their first job. Of those, 86% obtained full-time positions with benefits and 76% obtained positions within 120 days of their arrival in the U.S.
Mohamad Alnouri arrived from Syria on February 8th, 2017, and I (Barbara, ACC Job Developer) started working with him the first week of March. Mohamad did not speak English or understand the language so his mother translated everything for him.
Mohamad's personality, however, radiated even without speaking any English. He had, from the very beginning, an incredible attitude toward life and a jovial personality. I started searching for employment opportunities for him and after discussing his preferences, we decided he would apply at the Maven, a new luxury hotel in LoDo.
Mohamad interviewed for a houseman position. Since his English was limited, the housekeeper manager asked him if he was instead willing to start as a room attendant, and Mohamad agreed. He started working as a room attendant in mid-March. Just two short months later, he was nominated as "Employee of the Month", as well as "Student of the Month" at Emily Griffith Technical College, where he attends English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. His supervisors love him, and Mohamad is well-liked among his colleagues throughout the hotel. Mohamad was quickly promoted into the houseman position, and his supervisor said that Mohamad will go far in the hospitality industry if he decides to continue along this career path.
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)
The Ambassadors Program is designed to provide guidance and scholarship aid to refugees planning on attending college. Refugee high school students must apply and be accepted into this unique community leadership program which incorporates elements of cultural orientation and adaptation to a new country, guidance in choosing a career path, and a service learning component. Students who complete the program receive a $1,000 scholarship for higher education or vocational training.
Scholarships have been provided to more than 50 students, with more than a 100% success rate of college attendance. Recent graduates included a Gates Millennium Scholar and a Daniel's Fund Scholar.
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent
Resettlement Programs ensure that community members have everything they need to begin their new lives in Denver. Case managers meet new arrivals at the airport, teach them how to navigate public transportation, and enroll them in public assistance programs. Staff then assist with housing, healthcare, English language acquisition, school enrollment, and community orientation, among other services. For cases with higher needs, staff may also refer community members to supportive services for intensive case management.
Case Management: The Story of a Single Mom and her Children from Somalia: Faduma and her children arrived in the U.S. in 2008. She was illiterate and the children were all in or nearing school age. Faduma struggled to navigate bus routes, to understand school norms, and to find work. With the support of her case manager, she learned how to take her children to childcare, entered low-income housing at Warren Village, and was able to gain the skills necessary to get a job. Today, Faduma is working, her kids are thriving, and she is learning English.
Employment: More than 80% of refugees resettled each year obtain employment within 8 months of arriving.
Employers Recommending Refugees:
"Be patient. These people are really hard working, but getting them structured is a little bit of a challenge. They are very dedicated people. They're very hard working and they're eager to learn, and that eagerness is a tool that you don't find that often." - Chef Michael Duffy, Executive Chef at University of Denver's Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management
Health Services: ACC strives to maintain a less than 4% missed appointment rate, ensuring all refugees arriving in Colorado receive adequate health screening for communicable diseases, physicals, and proper immunizations.
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
ACC's youth programs provide enrichment activities for newcomer students, as well as leadership and career development for college-bound seniors. ACC facilitates relationships with community partners to benefit refugee youth.
International CITY (Community of Individuals, Teens, and Youth) is an after-school drop-in center for refugee and immigrant youth located at Mango House in Aurora. The program was created by students for students, with the goal of creating a sense of community for newly arrived refugee and immigrant youth who may not find this community at school or home. International CITY provides a variety of activities for youth intended to improve academic performance, increase confidence and resilience, improve social support, and develop problem-solving skills. These activities include: tutoring, IT skills development, soccer, field trips, art and music programs, bullying and violence prevention, health education, and prevention of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Through these activities, youth are able to explore different areas of interest with peers who are also experiencing these things for the first time.
OnTRAC (Training Refugees Accessing College) is ACC's first college access program created with refugee and immigrant youth in mind. OnTRAC operates throughout the summer and provides a unique college access curriculum that takes into consideration the personal identity and cultural contexts that shape the goals of each student. Upon arrival in the US, newcomer refugee youth are often not equipped to navigate the confusing world of ACTs, FAFSA, college applications, and career opportunities. Taken together, these challenges can make college unattainable for many refugee youth, relegating them to lower‐skilled careers and insufficient income. OnTRAC imparts on youth the practical skills needed to help them understand the college admission process, including applying for scholarships and financial aid, setting goals, searching for jobs, finding volunteer opportunities, and learning how to choose a college.
Youth 4 Youth:
Through Youth 4 Youth (Y4Y), each newcomer middle school student is paired with a trained high school mentor who shares his or her cultural background. These mentors have experience navigating their schools as well as the social and cultural dynamics at play in their daily lives. The primary goal of the program is to provide each mentee with a friend who understands the challenges of adjusting to life in a new country, while fostering mentors' confidence, leadership abilities, and sense of personal responsibility. Through age-appropriate cultural competency trainings, Y4Y prepares mentors with the skills and knowledge needed to approach difficult circumstances that may arise with their mentee. The seven‐month program runs throughout the school year and focuses on supporting healthy and sustainable relationships among peers while addressing challenges that newcomer youth often face, including isolation, peer pressure, academic difficulties, and bullying. Mentors and mentees participate in a variety of activities throughout the year, including team-building exercises, homework help, facilitated conversations about US culture, and field trips. ACC's hope is that eventually each mentee will grow into the role of mentor, helping to support future newcomer refugees in their new home.
Refugee Leaders Scholarship Program:
The Refugee Leaders Scholarship (RLS) program provides 10 scholarships per year for $1,000 each to refugee youth who are within their first five years after arrival. These scholarships are good for any in‐state school and allow recipients to qualify for a competitive four‐year scholarship-the Ambassador Scholarship-coordinated by the Denver Foundation and funded by private donors. Students accepted into the RLS program also engage in 10 classroom sessions that teach leadership and public speaking skills, as well as fulfill a 40‐hour community service requirement with a community of their choice. This program allows youth who may not otherwise be able to attain higher education the opportunity to attend university, develop critical professional and social skills, and find success in their futures.
A Youth Success Story:
Theophile came into the scholarship program with the idea that he would finish community college, move on to a 4-year university, graduate and attend medical school. When asked why he wanted to become a doctor, he replied: "I just want to help people." Approximately four months into his college experience, he came to the office and said that he was confused. "I don't think I want to be a doctor anymore," he said. "I want to be a social worker and work with youth. That's how I want to make a difference. Teenagers have a lot of problems. I want to help them." However, he also stated that his mother wants him to work in a hospital. So, the Scholarship Program Coordinator/ Family Liaison sat down with him and brainstormed solutions to this problem. Theophile decided that he should shadow a social worker at a local hospital who works with youth. He made the phone call and set up an appointment with the social worker and will be shadowing him this spring semester. He is currently completing his core coursework at the Community College of Aurora and will be applying to four-year universities in the fall of this year. Theophile is currently serving as part time support for the On TRAC! summer session.
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Ready for American Hospitality (RAH) is a collaborative training program between ACC and the University of Denver (DU). Refugee students are paired with students from DU's Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management (Knoebel) Human Capital Management course. Through these pairings, refugees and DU students establish a mentor/protege relationship in which the DU mentors teach their proteges about employment skills, the job search process, interviewing techniques, and workplace communication. Refugee participants in RAH gain knowledge, skills, and experience working in the food service and hospitality industries while developing a more acute understanding of work culture and expectations in the US. Participants graduate from the program with a Food Handler's card and a 90-hour commercial kitchen internship. Ultimately, this leads to employment opportunities and additional nurturing throughout the integration process.
A RAH Participant Success Story:
Tsegaye came to the U.S. in November 2012 from a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He came with metal work and barber skills, but was willing to try something new. After receiving health services and attending ESL classes, Tsegaye entered RAH. He graduated and was hired by Chili's. His manager recently commented, "We couldn't be more pleased by his work." Tsegaye will continue working at Chili's until he is able to pursue his dream to study to become an electrical engineer.
ACC's We Made This (WMT) initiative offers a safe and multicultural environment that empowers refugee women through the development of sewing skills, social integration, and psychosocial support. Participants benefit from the project's two-pronged approach to individual development: professional growth and personal growth. Through professional growth activities, participants gain skills in many areas, including: sewing, English communication, hands-on production, business culture, sales, and marketing. Personal growth activities are geared toward providing social support for participants, many of whom are traumatized from years of conflict in their home countries. Through these activities, participants experience social interaction in a multicultural environment, develop strong personal connections, participate in therapeutic activities, learn about decision-making and personal advocacy, build their confidence, and gain psychosocial support. All of this is accomplished through a series of 12-week courses offering employment skills training and multiple levels while weaving themes of psychosocial development and support throughout. WMT is a social enterprise in which participants are engaged in every step of the process and take home 55% of the profits.
The snow was falling heavily outside, with her neighbor at her side encouraging her to enter the classroom, Pan shyly walks through the We Made This doorway to start her 12 weeks of sewing training. This was the first time to leave her house in 6 months without her husband, or one of her five children taking her in their car. She resettled to America only 6 and half months before this day. She hated the loud sound of the bus and its enormous size with so many strangers sitting and staring. She was afraid of being taken too far away and not knowing how to return home, she didn't think she could communicate to anyone. In the classroom, Pan begins to meet other women with similarities and differences from her. She learns to sew and make her first jewelry pouch by learning through observation and actions. In bewilderment and silence, she worked with her hands. Four weeks into the training, Pan would ride the bus and arrive on time ready to work every weekday. Her teacher believed it was time to attend English classes in the morning with the rest of the WMT students and afterwards attend the sewing classes. Now, the summer sun has melted all of the snow and Pan's world has increased immensely, she is teaching the new Beginner student's sewing techniques and practices introducing herself in English to all visitors and customers that walk through the same doorway she was fearful of walking under 12 weeks ago.