The Vilcek Foundation is collaborating with Upwardly Global to support their current campaign “Supporting Immigrants, Stronger Together.” A recent $10,000 grant from the Vilcek Foundation will support the work and programs of Upwardly Global including this campaign, which brings together a coalition of organizations to recognize the professional contributions of immigrants in the United States.
“Upwardly Global’s mission and vision—and their ‘Supporting Immigrants, Stronger Together’ campaign—are aligned with the experiences and values that inspired us to establish the Vilcek Foundation in 2000,” said Jan Vilcek, chairman and CEO of the Vilcek Foundation. “My wife, Marica, and I arrived in the United States as refugees from former Czechoslovakia in 1965. We are tremendously grateful for the career opportunities we had in the United States. The Vilcek Foundation is a testament to our gratitude, and enables us to requite the recognition and advancement opportunities we received to young immigrant artists and scientists.”
Jane Leu, founder of Upwardly Global, was working as a volunteer to support refugee resettlement in the United States when she observed the critical underemployment of highly skilled and educated workers from around the world. In 2000, she launched Upwardly Global from her kitchen table in San Francisco. The organization’s core mission is to eliminate employment barriers and to integrate skilled immigrants and refugees into the professional workforce. Upwardly Global accomplishes this by helping clients update and translate professional and academic credentials from their countries of origin to track with the job market in the United States, and by building networks to connect companies seeking skilled workers with qualified immigrant professionals.
The “Supporting Immigrants, Stronger Together” campaign personalizes Upwardly Global’s mission by sharing the individual stories of immigrant professionals. This builds public dialogue about the diversity of immigrant stories and experiences in the United States. The campaign also emphasizes the value that immigrants bring to supporting the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“[The] coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated once again how deeply we depend on each other,” said Jina Krause-Vilmar, CEO of Upwardly Global. “As we move forward, we would be blind to overlook immigrant contributions, and foolish to underestimate immigrant potential in a recovery that will take all the grit, resilience, and innovation that we can muster as a country.”
As the world addresses the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vilcek Foundation has been inspired by the work of many of our prizewinners and grant recipients who have rapidly responded to the needs of society. We admire the work of Vilcek Prizewinner Chef José Andrés through his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, to provide millions of meals to communities in need and to frontline healthcare workers. Pardis Sabeti, an Iranian-born computational biologist and Vilcek Creative Promise Prize recipient, is part of a team at the Broad Institute that has developed a platform for tracking and understanding the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19 and Ebola. And Feng Zhang, a Chinese-born biochemist and Vilcek Creative Promise Prize recipient, has developed a protocol for rapid testing for the coronavirus that is being piloted now.
“It is an organic fit for the Vilcek Foundation to partner with Upwardly Global,” said Rick Kinsel, president of the Vilcek Foundation. “Particularly in this time when the challenges immigrants face in the United States have been exacerbated and illuminated by the coronavirus pandemic. We are committed to the values of the ‘Supporting Immigrants, Stronger Together’ campaign, and are grateful for the opportunity to enrich and expand discourse about the necessity and value of immigration to the United States.”