New York State Office for New Americans Announces $1.2 Million to Help Immigrants in Digital Literacy and Advanced Computer Classes

Jun 24, 2021 | coding, community, Saratoga

This Immigrant Heritage Month, New York State Office for New Americans Announces $1.2 Million to Help High-Skilled Immigrants Find Jobs and Offer Training in Digital Literacy and Advanced Computer Classes

$1.1 Million Dedicated to New Professional Pathways Program for High-Skilled Immigrants to Help with Job Placement

Additional $100,000 to Expand Partnership Between ONA and AlbanyCanCode to Offer Digital Literacy and Advanced Computer Training for Immigrants

June is Immigrant Heritage Awareness Month; Governor Issues Proclamation Celebrating the Important Contributions of New Americans Across the State

In recognition of Immigrant Heritage Month, the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) today announced $1.1 million for the new Professional Pathways for High-Skilled Immigrants program to help new Americans find jobs matched with their expertise. In addition, ONA will also be expanding its partnership with AlbanyCanCode, first announced in October 2020, with an additional commitment of $100,000 to offer new basic digital literacy classes and software training courses through August 2022. These programs will help New York respond to the post COVID-19 job market by assisting new Americans to fully utilize their potential and obtain meaningful employment.

New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “Many immigrants worked as essential workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis, providing key services for New Yorkers, and I can think of no better way to honor immigrants than by offering them the opportunity to match their expertise with job placement and increase their digital literacy skills. The new Professional Pathway program for High-Skilled Immigrants will help New York State build back better and is the latest example of New York’s ongoing commitment to immigrant empowerment and workforce development.”

Professional Pathways for High-Skilled Immigrants

The NYS Professional Pathways program will enable high-skilled immigrants overcome barriers to professional development through the screening, training and/or re-credentialing of participants and the identification of job placement opportunities for low-income immigrants in the regions of the state where this program is launching. The organizations provisionally awarded contracts under this program will be working with ONA to coordinate with employers and workforce development boards in their regions to ensure they are tapping into existing workforce development initiatives that are working to fill employment gaps, especially given the change in employment skills and needs as a result of COVID-19.

The six regions and organizations offering the program are:

Upwardly Global, a national leader in immigrant workforce development, will serve as the lead agency. In this role, Upwardly Global will lead the statewide network of ONA Job Coaches and provide expert guidance and technical assistance to the program in different regions of the state.

Jina Krause-Vilmar, CEO, Upwardly Global said, “Over the last year, Upwardly Global has continued to work very closely with the New York State Office for New Americans to invest in immigrants and refugee job seekers. This population is often invisibilized and overlooked in public discourse. These communities should be able to restart their careers and rebuild their lives in a way that enhances shared prosperity. This investment moves us in the right direction. Not only will Upwardly Global take a leading role in supporting the state’s capacity to serve skilled newcomers, but we have also been awarded an additional ONA grant to be the direct service provider of the new Professional Pathways Program in Brooklyn and Queens.”

Recruitment for participants in the Professional Pathways program will begin in July, and more information will be shared at this time. Individuals who are interested in participating in the program can call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. To be eligible for the program, candidates must:

  • Have prior higher education and employment experience from outside the United States;
  • Be authorized to work in the United States; and
  • Meet the low-income eligibility requirements of the program.

According to a recent report from New American Economy (NAE) and Envoy Global there remains a shortage of highly skilled workers to meet demand from U.S. employers and this shortage will persist beyond the pandemic. Their findings support the goal of the Professional Pathways program, that responsive, employment-based solutions and support systems could help quicken the pace of the economic recovery. Research shows that almost half of immigrants entering the U.S. between 2011 and 2015 have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, nearly two million immigrants with college degrees—or one out of every four—are unemployed or working well below their skill level missing out on more than $39 billion in wages annually, and governments losing out on $10 billion in tax payments.

New Americans Can Code

This summer, ONA will also be expanding its Immigrants Can Code pilot in partnership with AlbanyCanCode to offer additional basic digital literacy classes and software training courses through August 2022 under the re-named New Americans Can Code program. ONA launched the Immigrants Can Code program in 2020 to ensure low-income immigrants, particularly those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, have access to digital literacy education and more advanced software training that are essential to building careers in the Empire State’s fast-growing innovation economy.

The expanded New Americans Can Code program is particularly critical and timely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shown how important digital literacy is for those who are now working from home, or who are seeking new employment that requires them to work remotely. Individuals who are interested in participating in the New Americans Can Code program can visit https://cancode.org/new-americans/ for more information and to apply.

Annmarie Lanesey, Founder and CEO of AlbanyCanCode said, “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with the Office for New Americans, and to give more New Yorkers access to digital literacy education and training that are critical for success in today’s technology-driven workplace. This investment in New Americans Can Code will open up high-tech career opportunities for individuals, increase the tech talent pipeline available to employers, and support economic growth in communities across New York.”

Both of these ONA programs are supported through Federal CARES Act funding, approximately $150,000 for the New Americans Can Code program and $1.1 million for the Professional Pathways program, and are open to any immigrant with a household income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

These programs are supported by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,250,000 with 100 percent funded by ACF/HHS. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACF/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit the ACF website, Administrative and National Policy Requirements.

The New York State Office for New Americans, founded in 2012, is the nation’s first statutorily created immigrant services office. ONA assists all new Americans with accessing and navigating a variety of free services and support through its statewide network of community-based providers.

For any immigrant in need of assistance, or to connect with ONA’s programs, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 9:00am to 8:00pm, Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages. For more information, visit https://dos.ny.gov/office-new-americans or follow ONA on Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYSNewAmericans.

Upwardly Global, founded in 2000, is the first and longest-serving organization focused on advancing the inclusion of immigrant and refugee professionals into the U.S. workforce. Upwardly Global’s innovative skill-building and networking programs coach internationally trained professionals in rebuilding professional careers and U.S. employers in accessing their talents with inclusive hiring practices. To date, Upwardly Global has placed almost 8,000 people in mid and high skill jobs where they earn a thriving wage and added $358 million to the economy each year. Learn more at www.upwardlyglobal.org.

AlbanyCanCode is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in June 2016 to develop non-traditional talent and advocates for a vibrant, inclusive tech talent pipeline in New York state. The organization designs and deliver workforce training courses, hands-on K-12 coding programs, and community code literacy workshops, in alignment with the needs of employers, educators, talent and the community in general. Its mission is to shift mindset about who can work in technology, remove cultural and economic barriers to joining the tech workforce, and establish and promote pathways to tech careers throughout the region. For more, visit www.albanycancode.org.