The WES Mariam Assefa Fund seeks to further help immigrants join the local workforce by enabling them to use their training, education and talent – a target the organisation has been tasked with since its inception in 1974.
“Newcomers are often held back from meaningful employment”
“The launch of the fund marks a new era for WES,” said Dewayne Matthews, WES board member and chair of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund Committee.
“It represents a profound commitment to building on the strategies that WES has long employed to foster the integration and empowerment of immigrants and refugees.”
The fund is named after the organisation’s outgoing executive director and CEO Mariam Assefa and will begin in the US this summer and later expand to Canada.
“Newcomers are often held back from meaningful employment, or [they are] underemployed in survival jobs,” said Monica Munn, senior director of the WES Mariam Assefa Fund.
“The fund will deploy catalytic resources to address that challenge. Our plan is to support organisations that are working to accelerate progress, spur innovation, and permanently dismantle the barriers that hinder economic advancement among immigrants and refugees.”
WES has provided credential evaluation to almost two million people worldwide in 45 years. In 2016, WES introduced an initiative to obtain recognition for Syrian refugees‘ academic credentials.
WES’s incoming CEO Esther Benjamin will begin her tenure on June 17.
“I’m delighted that this new initiative will, through its name and efforts, honour and build on the impressive foundation that Mariam Assefa established during her tenure at WES,” she said.
“I look forward to working with the WES Board and the WES Mariam Assefa Fund team to extend the ways we support and improve the lives of immigrants and refugees along their journey.”
“As the organisation transitions from one visionary leader to another, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund provides us with the opportunity to spark a lasting change that improves communities, economies, and individual lives,” added Hans De Wit, chair of the WES Board.