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Congressman Higgins Announces $250,000 for Buffalo Refugee Careers Pathway Project

Oct 6, 2021
Press Release
Funding is Especially Critical as WNY Prepares to Welcome Afghan Evacuees

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced a $250,000 federal grant has been awarded to the International Institute of Buffalo and community partners through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The funding will support continuation of the Buffalo Refugee Careers Pathway Project. 

“Western New York is enriched through the contributions of those past and present who work, live and make a life here,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This project will help put the skills of our new neighbors to work in a meaningful way that leads to self-sufficiency and builds a stronger community.”

The Buffalo Refugee Careers Pathway Project is made possible through the collaborative work of the International Institute, Jewish Family Services of WNY, Journey’s End Refugee Services, and Jericho Road Community Health Center. The team of agencies partners with educational institutions, organizations, and employers to establish mentorships, workforce training, workshops and other programs and services that place refugees on a path to career opportunities. 

Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, Interim Executive Director, International Institute of Buffalo said, "The International Institute is excited to implement the Careers Pathway program. We know that Buffalo has gaps in its current workforce that need to be filled and these gaps are in areas where careers can be built. Refugees are a ready, willing, and able workforce that already have useful skills and we are particularly excited to support the re-credentialing process for highly skilled refugees. We are deeply grateful for Congressman Higgins’ support and advocacy on behalf of refugees and resettlement work."

Often, even highly skilled refugees don’t have appropriate certifications to work in their fields in the United States. Established in 2018, the federal Refugee Careers Pathway Program goes beyond simple job placement and focuses on individualized career development plans that build on a refugee’s work history and experience. 

Continuation of this program is critical as Western New York agencies prepare to resettle up to 335 Afghanistan evacuees. On September 30th H.R. 5305, the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, was signed into law, which includes emergency funding requested by Higgins, for resettlement agencies as well as language that provides Afghan evacuees access to the same services extended to other refugees, following a comprehensive background check.