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World Relief Quad Cities Awarded $150,000 Grant to Break Down Barriers to Economic Advancement for Immigrants & Refugees in Rural Communities


CONTACT: Pinkston Team

QUAD CITIES (March 22, 2023) — World Relief Quad Cities is the recipient of a $150,000 grant by Jobs For the Future (JFF), Ascendium, and World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund, a group of funding organizations working together to advance economic inclusion for immigrants, refugees, and migrant workers in rural areas. World Relief Quad Cities is one of 10 newly-selected members of the Rural Immigrant Success Exchange (RISE), an ambitious two-year initiative that will convene a cohort of organizations working across the country to break down barriers to education, training, and employment for immigrant and refugee workers residing in rural communities.

Across the country, immigrants play a key role in rural communities facing economic decline, an aging workforce, and youth migration away from these geographies. Yet current research shows a too often unstable and unsafe entry point for immigrants, refugees, and migrants in rural areas, making access to quality jobs and economic advancement a significant challenge.  

Refugees and immigrants are a vital part of the QC area’s workforce. Not only do they increase retention rates and help diversify the workplace, but with upskilling and/or re-skilling services, they also fill talent gaps in career fields such as interpretation and translation, security, logistics and driving, construction, engineering, sewing, or business and entrepreneurship. However, limited experience and low English proficiency often prevents employment in fields outside of labor-intensive, low-paying manufacturing positions. When refugee or other immigrant employees miss out on valuable opportunities to showcase their skills, so do local employers.

World Relief Quad Cities launched a Refugee Career Pathways program for Afghan entrants in 2022. With funding from JFF, World Relief Quad Cities has expanded the program to include all populations of refugees and other immigrants, with a focus on rural populations. The Refugee Career Pathways program provides career education and casework to equip participants with the skills they need to re-enter their career field, find and choose between career or education opportunities, and/or advance into highly-skilled fields.

“We are honored to be one of the organizations providing education and employment services to rural immigrants across the U.S. Through JFF’s RISE network, we can provide education and tools to improve economic well-being for clients choosing specific career paths to work toward during the program period. This funding is critical, and we are beyond excited to expand our Refugee Career Pathways programming to non-Afghan immigrants and refugees in the QC area,” said Grace Fitzpatrick, Director of Empowerment Programs.

RISE will support 10 organizations as they innovate and scale best-in-class workforce development, education, and training services for rural refugee and immigrant populations over the next two years. Through the network, RISE hopes to catalyze these best practices and lean into peer learning that will inform future work and funding opportunities in the field.

The 10 RISE finalists were selected through a highly competitive and comprehensive application process, yielding more than 100 initial applications. The competitive nature of the process demonstrates the growing need to support immigrants, refugees, and migrants living in rural communities and working in low-income jobs.

Read more about the 10 organizations that make up RISE.

WRQC will host a Refugee Workforce Job Fair with IowaWORKS, the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, and the QC Chamber of Commerce for employers to connect directly with refugees and other immigrants on both sides of the river. May 18, 2023, 11:00AM – 1:00PM, located at Scott Community College, 101 West Third St. Davenport, IA 52801, in the Community Room. Contact Grace at to register.

About World Relief

World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that brings sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems – disasters, extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement. For over 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and community leaders in the U.S. and abroad to bring hope, healing and transformation to the most vulnerable.


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