The Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) Center, serving local immigrant communities, has landed a federal grant of nearly $600,000 to improve long-term prospects for younger clients and promote local outreach.
The money will target a Catch-22 that has long vexed new Americans — how to generate enough income to survive while finding time and resources to expand their career horizons and find lasting success.
“We’re not just putting a Band-Aid on the issue,’ said Liz Bryson, education program director with RISE. “We want to put them on a long-term path.”
Although the center is open to people of all ages, the grant will target youth ages 5-25 with the goal of getting them thinking and strategizing as soon as possible about careers ranging from health professions and law enforcement to sports management, finance and education. The agency plans to spend the $594,000 Department of Health & Human Services grant to help 450 children and young adults during the next three years.
Forms of assistance might include transportation and tuition to night classes, subsidies for internships and money for college application fees and campus tours.
The money will be disbursed primarily among three RISE programs:
- Advance @ RISE — Academic support in first through eighth grades with a particular focus on literacy. Also covered: identity exploration, healthy movement and play, social interaction and preparation for young adulthood.
- Aspire @ RISE —Career assistance for ages 14-25, again stressing literacy but this time with a focus on college prep, career options and leadership. Life skills such as financial literacy, goal setting, time management are included.
- Employment Services @ RISE — Funding to help older youth find employment opportunities that mesh with school and family schedules.
Some funds will be available to help young people offset the income they’d otherwise lose by going to school.
Bryson said all RISE programs depend on volunteer support and community involvement. Employers able to offer internships or allow youth to shadow them for a day can make a major difference. Donations of clothing suitable for job interviews are also welcome. If you’re a former refugee/ immigrant and you have a story that will educate and inspire newcomers, RISE encourages you to share it with its young clients.
“A contribution doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary,” Bryson said.
RISE is located at 302 Burt St. on the South Side and 710 Kirkpatrick St. on the North Side. Anyone interested in RISE programs should call (315) 214-4480.
Jeff Kramer is a columnist for The Stand. He has written newspaper columns for many, many years in Syracuse and elsewhere. To contact him with story ideas, call (315) 420-2619 or email firstname.lastname@example.org