Salesforce Helps Global Newcomers Integrate
By: Farah Siddiqui and Emily White
A recap of World Refugee Day 2018 activities around the world
There are over 68 million forcibly displaced people across the globe, from all walks of life, countries, religions. We can place many labels on them but above all else, they’re human. They’re mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. They’ve been forced to flee their homes, move to a foreign land, in many cases get separated from their families and communities, to start over. Becoming a refugee is not a choice, and it’s not an easy journey and transition for most, but the strength and resilience these communities show is awe-inspiring. Salesforce employee group Faithforce and Salesforce.org partnered to host 17 events in our offices globally to shine a light on the refugee crisis, and highlight ways we can give back, support and welcome the refugee communities locally and abroad.
Salesforce employees help newcomers with workforce development mentoring. Photo credit: Yvonne Albers
Since its creation in 2001, “World Refugee Day” has provided an opportunity for government officials, nonprofit organizations, civil society, and the private sector, to come together to celebrate the strength and resilience of refugees worldwide, raise awareness about the crisis, and make a meaningful impact.
At Salesforce, we commemorated this important day with a total of $1M in grants and in Salesforce offices around the world with volunteer activities, educational discussions, kit builds, cross-cultural learning activities and information sessions.
Grants for Education and Workforce Development
As part of helping youth and adults prepare for tomorrow’s jobs, Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce, is donating $1M to education and workforce programs in Germany. These grants will help ensure that a diverse workforce is empowered with the skills needed for the tech jobs of today and tomorrow. CodeDoor.org, Joblinge, ReDI Digital School of Integration, and SchlaU Schule are each receiving $250,000 to empower individuals through digital education and mentoring. The Salesforce.org grant will be used to train 1,000 socially disadvantaged youth as software developers and place them in jobs. For further details, see the press release about the workforce development grants in Germany.
Celebrating Eid (the end of Ramadan) with a Spirit of Giving
This year, World Refugee Week (June 18-24) fell around the same time as the end of Ramadan, a time where observant Muslims fast from dawn to sunset as a means to practice mindfulness and giving to the poor (Zakat al-Fitr). The end of Ramadan is celebrated with the festival of Eid, which was on June 15 in the USA. It’s a time for blessings to be shared with neighbors universally and selflessly contribute time, food, charity in any form within the community.
In London, Hyderabad, Indianapolis, Chicago, and San Francisco, Faithforce, Southasiaforce, and local nonprofits hosted events in the spirit of giving back and celebrating the work that local nonprofits are doing.
Supporting Organizations that Help Refugees
Here are some highlights from the Salesforce.org community partners that participated in World Refugee Day panel discussions and volunteer activities around the globe:
Ideation workshop in support of the Azraq Syrian refugee camp in Jordan (the largest in the world), with Zahra Khan of CARE and Jessica Hood on Designing for Data Challenges. Salesforce is providing tech for aid agencies to be more effective.
CARE and Innovation
CARE Jordan works with about 70,000 Syrian refugees on sustaining their basic needs in the Azraq Camp and provides myriad of services to the displaced population seeking support and livelihoods opportunities living side by side to the Jordanians in the communities outside of formal camp settlements. CARE runs four community centers in Azraq providing a one-stop-shop for refugees to get information on camp services and to begin the case management and referral process. Providing services to this number of individuals and running community centers means that CARE has a lot of data to process. And a responsibility to the protection of that data.
For World Refugee Day, CARE visited the Salesforce office in San Francisco, where employees shared their experiences collecting, managing, analyzing, and protecting large amounts of data in a way that allows for data driven decision making to inspire CARE to think in news ways about the solution needed across their programs. As a next step, CARE and Salesforce.org are working together to host an Innovation Workshop that will bring together CARE staff and refugees to collaborate and prototype solutions to make CARE as efficient and effective as possible when engaging with refugees and providing services.
UNICEF provides refugee children the knowledge and skills needed to manage everyday life in a far from normal situation.
UNICEF and Remote Mentoring
UNICEF is responding to the refugee crisis across four continents: delivering lifesaving supplies to children and their families fleeing escalating violence in the Middle East and Northern Africa, providing water and tents to create safe spaces for the growing wave of children moving through Europe and working to improve the lives of children fleeing violence and abuse in Central America.
Salesforce teamed up with UNICEF and NetHope, as part of the No Lost Generation Tech Task Force, to co-create a remote mentoring program linking Salesforce employees with youth affected by Syrian and Iraqi conflicts. Starting this past March in London, Salesforce employees volunteer 4 hours per month to work with a pair of youth on their conversational English skills. At the same time, UNICEF is contributing to the development of a remote mentoring program that will eventually scale and activate other private sector companies and humanitarian agencies.
“Conflict-affected youth have limited access to English language learning resources which prevents them from accessing employment and educational opportunities, and combating isolation and negative perception,” explained Leila Toplic, No Lost Generation Tech Task Force Lead. “We’re excited to be working with Salesforce to help conflict-affected youth in Jordan and Iraq improve their language skills through remote mentoring!”
Southern New Hampshire University reaches students in Rwanda, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya and Lebanon, and they host a remote mentoring program to guide students on their professional pathway in partnership with Salesforce volunteers.
Southern New Hampshire University and Online Degree Programs
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, nonprofit institution now serving more than 100,000 students worldwide, both online and on campus. Recognized as the “Most Innovative” regional university by U.S. News & World Report and one of the fastest-growing universities in the country, SNHU is committed to expanding access to high-quality, affordable pathways that meet the needs of each student.
SNHU president Paul LeBlanc often says that “talent is equally distributed around the world, but access is not,” and SNHU strives to serve students for whom college is not a guarantee. In 2017, SNHU launched the Global Education Movement to create pathways leading to a life of opportunity and choice for the world’s most vulnerable learners and their communities, including the more than 65 million refugees who have little to no access to education. Their long term goal is to serve 50,000 refugees and host community students. SNHU GEM is currently serving students in Rwanda, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya and Lebanon.
In May of this year, SNHU’s GEM launched a pilot program matching Salesforce employees with vulnerable learners working towards degrees. The partnership aimed to recruit 25 volunteer mentors to guide the students on their professional pathway, and SNHU was delighted by the response. “We were thrilled to have 200 Salesforce employees volunteer as remote mentors,” said Rachael Sears, Chief Assessment and Employment Pathways Officer at SNHU. “We appreciate the Salesforce passion and commitment to the SNHU Global Education Movement.”
Even though it’s just begun, the students are already reaping the rewards. According to one: “My mentor helps me by developing my professional readiness and branding through writing resumes and sending inspirational videos. Also, he gave me help about social media and personal brand development.”
Celebrating Diversity, Mentoring, and the Resilience of Global Newcomers
We hope these photos give you a flavor of what our employees accomplished for World Refugee Day this year!
Salesforce employees in Germany at an office event for World Refugee Day 2018. Photo credit: Yvonne Albers
In Berlin, Salesforce invited a nonprofit called OMA to speak at the office for World Refugee Day. OMA helps newcomers integrate in Germany via urban gardening, carpentry and art projects.
Speakers from Oakland Unified School District, CARE, UNICEF USA and SNHU at a San Francisco event that was live-streamed around the world and catered by refugee chef Pa Wah from Oakland Bloom.
In Chicago, Faithforce hosted a panel discussion with 5 nonprofits including UNICEF USA, RefugeeOne, Syrian Community Network, Iraqi Mutual Aid Society and RefuSHE. The nonprofits shared details about their global work and inspiring stories of resilience from the communities they support.
In London, Faithforce and Southasiaforce also organized an event with food, fun, and supporting newcomers to Europe from Syria, Jordan and Iraq. Speakers discussed a UNICEF and NetHope partnership around approaches to solve development, humanitarian, and conservation challenges.
Eid celebrations with Faithforce at the Salesforce Chicago office.
In Paris, employees worked with 6 students via Konexio, an NGO that helps refugees and asylum seeker get jobs by providing classes, with a special focus on digital skills. In Nantes, employees watched the film the “Lost Boys of Sudan” that showed the path that asylum seekers go through when entering the US.
In Lyon, France, employees shared feedback with a newcomer from Sudan who wants to build an IT company. The gathering in Nantes supported a local food entrepreneur from Chad who shared her food and her story of overcoming many obstacles.
Employees in Grenoble hosted a film screening about newcomers to Europe arriving in Lesbos, Greece followed by a discussion. As with other offices, films, and discussions served as inspiration for employees to think about ways to help newcomers, especially by volunteering with local nonprofits. While the Buddyforce program is active in Germany, Amsterdam, London and now France, the Grenoble office is getting started on this mentoring program.
In Amsterdam, Salesforce hosted a panel with UNHCR, New Dutch Connections, She Matters and the Lotus Flower Program while celebrating the success of Buddyforce graduate, Mohamed Thaer, who recently landed his first job in Holland!
In Atlanta, Refuge Coffee was brought onsite to serve coffee to our employees. Refuge Coffee Co exists to serve the global community in Clarkston, GA through coffee-related job creation, job training, social networking, mentorship and commerce.
Faithforce Indianapolis hosted an event with Exodus Refugee Group where a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo shared his story and the work Exodus Group is doing to help support the refugee community.
In New York City, employees packed hygiene kits for the nonprofit Days For Girls. Days for Girls provides for the millions of women and girls who suffer from lack of proper menstrual hygiene all over the world and increases their access to this basic necessity. Kits packed by Salesforce volunteers were sent by SCM Medical Missions to be distributed to Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan.
In New York City, employees and guests gathered on World Refugee Day for a panel discussion with UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, International Refugee Assistance Project, and Upwardly Global.
What did you do for #WorldRefugeeDay? Share with us on Twitter with the hashtag #VolunteeringRocks!
About the Authors
Farah is a Business Operations Manager with the Trailhead Global Operations team at Salesforce. In addition to her operations role, she is the Co-Founder and Global President of Faithforce, the interfaith employee resource group at Salesforce.
Emily White is Director, Philanthropy Partnerships at Salesforce.org. In her role, she leads the disaster relief and resilience program and deploys the full power of Salesforce.org’s model to strategic partners at scale. She is a member of all 10 employee resource groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace at Salesforce.
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