LSC receives federal grant to help Asheville area employers train refugees

Asheville, N.C. — Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) has received an Employer Engagement grant from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to help Asheville area employers enrich and deepen work opportunities for refugees and other qualified immigrants.

The renewable grant, which totals $861,000 over three years, will enable LSC to form partnerships with local employers and offer employer-supported training, personalized job coaching, and technical assistance to both refugees and their employers.

“We are so excited to partner with local area employers to help refugees succeed in their transition to the American workplace,” said Hanna Demarcus, resettlement director for LSC’s Asheville New Americans Program office. “Asheville has proven itself to be an extremely welcoming community and our clients have made a really positive impression with local employers. We view the Employer Engagement program as the next step to help refugees not only survive, but thrive, in Western North Carolina.”

LSC’s Asheville New Americans Program will partner with at least five employers per year to provide English Language Learning (ELL) and work skills training to ORR-eligible employees. ORR serves refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Visa holders, survivors of torture and human trafficking, and certain immigrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Ukraine, Cuba, and Haiti.

Local employers often cite the lack of English language proficiency as the largest barrier to advancement for refugee, asylee, and other immigrant workers. LSC has already helped legal immigrants from Afghanistan and Ukraine find jobs with manufacturing, hospitality, and retail employers in the Asheville area. The Employer Engagement grant will benefit both employers and employees as working, qualified immigrants are able to advance from entry-level positions such as assembly line work, dishwashing, and housekeeping to more highly skilled jobs such as quality control, front desk receptionist, and CDL driver.

LSC has already signed an agreement with one local employer, and two more agreements are pending.

“It’s been a pleasure working with our New American employees,” said David Roover, Chief Growth Officer of Quartz Properties, which has hired several Ukrainian and Afghan refugees through LSC. “I see the American dream in them: they have a great attitude, and they work hard. LSC is helping us translate our training materials into Russian, and we have already elevated one employee to a supervisory role. The construction industry nationwide is understaffed, and our New American employees have been a real boost to our business.”

Employers within a 100-mile radius of LSC’s Asheville office with ORR-eligible employees may qualify to participate in LSC’s Employer Engagement program. To learn more, contact Hanna Demarcus at hdemarcus@lscarolinas.net or (828) 209-8943.