NEW YORK, March 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund and the Tarsadia Foundation today announced a joint $1 million grantmaking initiative to support the success of immigrants, refugees, and their communities nationwide.

The Opportunity Challenge: $1 Million to Uplift Immigrant Communities seeks to identify, test, and advance sorely needed, holistic solutions that empower immigrant communities, while also addressing some of the impediments that many immigrants in low-wage jobs face, such as affordable childcare, stable housing, food security, and reliable transportation.

The challenge will open on March 23, 2020, and grant submissions will be accepted through May 26, 2020. A selection committee comprised of experts and community leaders will identify a shortlist of applicants. Seven organizations will ultimately be awarded up to $200,000 for a two-year period. Successful proposals will focus on two categories: new ideas, which pilot-test innovative approaches, and established programs, which build on solutions that have proved success.

“We’re thrilled to join the Tarsadia Foundation in surfacing impactful, community-led solutions that address factors contributing to economic insecurity among immigrants and refugees,” said Monica Munn, Senior Director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund.  “We know that achieving economic mobility is not solely a function of someone’s education, skills, or networks. Many factors outside the workplace pose significant roadblocks for immigrants and refugees in low-paying jobs. We believe the Opportunity Challenge will unleash creative thinking about what is a chronic challenge for so many people.”

The need for a range of solutions to eradicate these roadblocks is urgent. Immigrants now constitute 17% of the country’s workforce, and contribute substantially to the nation’s economy. However, a range of factors, including lack of affordable childcare, reliable transportation, stable housing, and other critical enablers of success are often unavailable to immigrants. Lack of access to affordable, dependable childcare is linked to workplace absences, disrupted work schedules, and inability to maintain employment. Research shows that lack of access to reliable transportation, and stable housing are similarly limiting.

“At Tarsadia Foundation we are committed to building a more inclusive and equitable world for all people, regardless of zip code, gender or color of skin,” said Priya Bery, CEO of the Tarsadia Foundation. “As a family of immigrants, we are passionate about tackling the structural barriers that have marginalized these communities for far too long. We’re hopeful that through our partnership with the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and with the launch of the Opportunity Challenge, we can build new bridges to progress and enable people everywhere to become the architects of their own future.”

The Opportunity Challenge is the latest WES initiative to help enable immigrants, refugees, and international students with tools to succeed and with access to opportunities where they can thrive academically and in the workplace.

“WES has a 45-year history that seeks to ensure that internationally educated students, immigrants, and refugees are able to succeed in the U.S. and Canada,” said Esther Benjamin, CEO of World Education Services. “As we expand our work as a social enterprise, I’m excited that the WES Mariam Assefa Fund is pushing us to expand our lens to focus on more vulnerable immigrant individuals. I am equally excited to see this joint philanthropic challenge establish a new partnership model for bringing multiple contributors together to tackle a pressing challenge.”

About WES and the WES Mariam Assefa Fund

WES is a 501(c)3 non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students and professionals achieve their educational and workplace goals in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1974, WES evaluates and advocates for the recognition of international education qualifications. Launched in 2019, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund supports catalytic efforts to build more inclusive economies for immigrant and refugee workers in the U.S. and Canada and ensure they have the skills, knowledge, and supports to succeed.

About the Tarsadia Foundation  

Tarsadia Foundation is a global family foundation that has been active in service and philanthropic giving over the past 10 years. Tarsadia Foundation is on a mission to unleash human potential and is committed to building a world where economic inclusion and boundless opportunity exists for all, in harmony with the planet. Through their grants and investments, they are fueling Inclusive Mobility, tackling Current Crises and Future Threats, and inspiring Human Transformation across the globe.

Contact info: Silan Akgul, sakgul@wes.org 

(631) 565-5244