JA Refugee and Immigrant Initiative

Refugee youth are a growing segment of Allegheny County's and Pittsburgh's population. These youth have spent most of their lives homeless, fleeing from persecution in their home countries, living in refugee camps. They face many of the same barriers as "traditional" at risk populations. Nationally, they are deficient in reading and they have high dropout rates. Locally on the 2011 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), 75% of English language learners (ELLs) at Baldwin-Whitehall High School and 93.3% of ELLs at Brashear High School scored "Below Basic" in reading a far greater percentage than any other disaggregated group including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Economically Disadvantaged, and special education students.
In addition to the barriers of language, refugee youth face the additional barrier of culture. Everyday living in the U.S. is far different from life in their homelands and in the refugee camps. Adjusting to life here is difficult and there is little to no understanding of the American workforce or educational systems for the youth or their parents. Therefore, a generation of young people may not be receiving the basic skills to be successful.
Our schools try to meet the youth's basic educational needs, but there aren't any programs designed specifically to meet the unique workforce development needs of refugee youth. If we do not have intervention, these youth are just as vulnerable as any other at-risk population to being educationally deficient, dropping out of school, turning to crime, becoming homeless, becoming a pregnant or parenting teen, etc., and never realizing their career potential.
Through the JA Refugee and Immigrant Initiative, Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania partners with community organizations to welcome and attract a new, future workforce pool of talent from our refugee youth. The students will receive college readiness and continuing education preparation, as well as career workforce readiness skills, such as reading, math skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills; which are desperately lacking among refugee youth due to the opportunity divide (the gap between the amount of children that receive and do not receive the necessary skills they need for the workforce). These skills will help them succeed in the global economy and fill the needs of our region's employers in hopes of recruiting talent and retaining their employees.
The following programs are implemented in the JA Refugee and Immigrant Initiative
JA Job Shadow™
JA Career Success™
JA Personal Finance®
JA Global Marketplace®
JA Economics for Success™ 
JA Be Entrepreneurial®
JA It's My Future™
Pillars of Student Success Entrepreneurship:  Financial-Literacy:  Work-Readiness: 
Program Implementation Program Grade-Level
Classroom-Based Middle School and High School
Program Concepts Program Skills

Program Sessions