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City and Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians Launch Citywide Immigrant Workforce Initiative

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Monica Munn, Senior Director of the WES Mariam Asefa Fund

Philadelphia, PA (January 15, 2020) – Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, in partnership with the City’s Office of Workforce Development, announced today an 18-month initiative to advance employer-informed immigrant workforce integration, at all skill and education levels and across industry sectors. The initiative, Engaging Immigrant Talent, builds on the existing citywide workforce strategy that aims to prepare Philadelphians for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s economy. It is supported by a $242,000 grant from the World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund.

Throughout the 18-month initiative, the partnership will call on employers to learn more about opportunities to engage immigrant talent in Philadelphia and welcome employers to register at

“City government has a critical role to play in improving equitable outcomes for all our residents,” said Mayor Kenney. “Increasing opportunities for Philadelphia’s extraordinary and diverse immigrant population is key to realizing the goals outlined in our citywide workforce development and inclusive growth strategies. I greatly appreciate the WES Mariam Assefa Fund for funding this opportunity, and I look forward to driving positive results for our city through this partnership with Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.”

Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians has a 16-year track record of delivering workforce development programs focused on increased access for immigrants and refugees. Its International Professionals Program provides classroom-based and experiential training to connect residents to career pathways in their fields. Upon completing the IPP, graduates can enroll in the Immigrant Fellowship Program, a 12-week paid work-based learning opportunity with City of Philadelphia departments and private sector employers. In our most recent data, 40 percent of fellows were offered full-time employment by the City.

The Engaging Immigrant Talent initiative includes a plan for Welcoming Center to evaluate and expand the impact of these existing programs in order to identify which elements can be codified and incorporated into a citywide immigrant workforce strategy. As part of the initiative, Welcoming Center will advocate for more inclusive recruiting, hiring and retention practices across the city, and engage employers toward leveling the playing field for all jobseekers and workers.

“The Office of Workforce Development is excited to partner with Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians to strengthen the International Professionals Program and Immigrant Fellowship Program as part of a larger planning process toward a more comprehensive, immigrant workforce strategy. We will continue to engage those businesses we recognize through the City’s Employer of Choice campaign and other meaningful employer-informed efforts,” said Sheila Ireland, executive director of the Office of Workforce Development.

“We are thrilled to support this innovative partnership among the Office of Workforce Development, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and Philadelphia employers,” said Monica Munn, senior director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. “This initiative showcases the economic and social impact that can be achieved when you bring together municipal leadership, an outstanding nonprofit service provider, talented immigrant and refugee workers, and committed employers. We hope the data and resources generated through this initiative can be leveraged by other cities in their immigrant workforce programs.”

The intended long-term impact of this initiative is an investment in a systems-wide approach to explicitly increase opportunity and dismantle institutional inequity.

“Workforce equity is an economic imperative. Only through a coordinated effort across multiple sectors and partners can we ensure that all Philadelphians have what they need to thrive,” said Nicole Pumphrey, deputy director of Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

For updates on initiative progress and to learn about opportunities to engage, employers can register at