Community Financial Literacy helps refugees find jobs in Maine

Editor’s note: Claude Rwanganje provided this story of how Community Family Literacy is helping refugees find jobs in Portland, Maine. SDOP provided Community Financial Literacy with a grant to set up the programs. 

By Claude Rwaganje

In 2014, Community Financial Literacy, a Portland, Maine, ethnic, community-based organization, recognized the need for employment opportunities for refugee, immigrant and asylum seeker professionals. These people come to the US as educated professionals with work experience from their home country, but once they arrive, it is a struggle to find employment.  As a result, they struggle to support their families and build financial stability.

community financial literacy maine 2In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor predicted that by 2017, Maine would suffer from a labor shortage due to the retirement of baby boomers. According to Dr. Charles S. Colgan, an economist and professor from the University of Southern Maine, as stated in his presentation at CFL’s 4thAnnual Celebration, Maine needs immigrants if it is to survive the shortage of the labor market.  Immigrants who came to our state are young and range between 18 and 44 years old, and over half of them have bachelor or graduate degree.  Unfortunately, the rate of their unemployment or under-employment is very high.  CFL tried to respond to this need by applying for a grant from the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People to provide training to help this group gain employment.

CFL planned to help this group with workforce training, including computer training on a job search, resumé building, interviewing skills and connection to employers to facilitate their entry into the US work force.

CFL sought a grant of $15,000 from Self-Development of People to purchase laptop computers and build a career development curriculum. We are grateful for the award and appreciate this great partnership with an organization headquartered in Kentucky (SDOP), which cares very much about people living in poverty. This program will empower individuals, but it will also strengthen our community, not only by helping members to get a job, but also to sustain their employment and build economic stability.

Melissa is a graduate of the workforce training program and has been volunteering in CFL’s office.  She appreciates the opportunity she was given in the course, but also the office experience she is gaining as she waits for her Work Authorization papers to arrive.  Many other students who have taken the course should be able to gain employment quickly because they are equipped for skills needed in the workforce.

We thank SDOP for this partnership and look forward to continuing the relationship.


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