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Nebraska non-profits vying for $125,000 grant from Google | Vote here

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:20 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Five Nebraska non-profits are vying for a $125,000 grant from Google for training and to help jumpstart their ideas. And it’s up to the public to decide who gets the money.

The New Americans Task Force is one of the non-profits. If they win, the money will go to help skilled immigrants and refugees connect with a career they might have had before coming to the U.S.

It will go to help people like Falah. He’s a skilled nurse who brought his family to the United States but had a hard time finding the right channels to become a nurse.

Falah Rashoka, a University of Nebraska – Lincoln doctoral student and instructor of nutrition and health science describes his experience like this: “I went to the hospital and said, ‘I’m a nurse. I want to work,’ and they said, ‘You can’t because you don’t have a registration number.’ I said, ‘how can I do that?’ And they said, ‘we don’t know.”

Falah was approved to come to the U.S. from Iraq in 2016. Making the decision to leave your home country is hard enough, let alone finding a way to get back into the profession you love.

“The process took me almost two years because there was no path or roadmaps that would help me say, ‘what’s the first step to start my career?’” Falah said.

That’s what the New Americans Task Force is doing in Lincoln. They’re going to connect people like Falah to the right channels to get back in the workforce.

“It is a disorienting process, to take your foreign college diploma, and get a college diploma in the United States,” said Bryan Seck, Director of Workforce Development with Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. “It’s a crazy long process but people can do it.”

“We need, nurses, we need lawyers, engineers and other professions. This grant will help design the pathways to help people do that,” Seck said.

For immigrants and refugees like Falah, this task force would have made a huge difference.

“Nobody helped me to get back. I did that. If there were career maps, or leaders, that would have saved me a lot of time, a lot of hard work,” Falah said.

Now, Falah is taking his determination to help and volunteering for the task force.

“I decided to volunteer with the NATF to help them with developing career paths and roadways,” Falah said. “We need them in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s time to help them give back to the community.”

“When families come here as refugees or immigrants, we want them to feel welcomed,” Seck said. “Part of feeling welcomed is respecting your profession, your skills.”

The vote to see who wins that extra $125,000 ends at midnight. You can only vote once.

There are four other non-profits in the running:

  • Kearney Works, which tackles rural workforce development
  • Native360 Loan Fund in Grand Island, which provides technical assistance to Native American entrepreneurs
  • The Greater Omaha Worklab (GrOW), which offers personalized success coaching
  • Metro Community College in Omaha, their program helps inmates prepare to re-enter the workforce

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