Federally Funded Program to Partner with Employers in Helping Refugees Join Regional Workforce

February 1, 2024

Federally funded program to partner with employers in helping refugees join regional workforce  

LANCASTER, PA–Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13’s Community Education program, in partnership with Church World Service and The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon, recently received a $1.05 million federal grant to develop an Employer Engagement Program (EEP) aimed at helping refugees resettle.

The grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement Grant (ORR), will provide the partnership $350,000 per year, for three consecutive years. It was one of 31 grants awarded nationwide in 2023.  ORR is an office of the Administration of Children and Families that provides new populations with the opportunity to maximize their potential and critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society.

Refugees and immigrants play an increasingly larger role in the region’s workforce, serving on the frontlines during COVID-19 in industries such as healthcare, food service, and childcare.

EEP partners will work with employers in Lancaster, Lebanon, and Dauphin counties to create pipelines to jobs and career pathways for the successful hiring and retaining of refugees in their workplaces. The grant will engage employers in maximizing the skills and talents new neighbors bring to the workforce, create opportunities for staff to improve English skills, offer employer-supported training and leadership development, and create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.

“This grant funding is a tangible opportunity to build partnerships with employers welcoming New Americans to their workplace,” said IU13 Community Education Program Manager, Josh McManness. “IU13 Community Education and its partners have holistic services to support New Americans in their integration journey. It’s a privilege and honor to receive this grant that will provide even more opportunities to partner with one of the most vital stakeholders in refugees’ integration process- employers.”

Church World Service South Central PA plans to help 600 refugees resettle locally this year. The EEP and its employer partners will help these future workers make the United States their permanent home, given that, as refugees, they are not able to return to their native countries.

“Our position as Lancaster County’s largest employer requires a skilled and semi-skilled workforce to achieve our mission,” said Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Chief Human Resource Officer Kay Brady. “We are interested in developing talent pipelines from a diverse set of community partners. The Employer Engagement Program presents a unique opportunity to assist our new community members in building a meaningful career and, at the same time, developing a skilled workforce.”

To attract and retain talent, employers must consider how to be a workplace that is welcoming and aware of cultural differences that may impact employee retention.


Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 Community Education provides adult basic education and family literacy services, cultural navigation, and career advising in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. To learn more about this program, please contact IU13 at (717) 606-1718 or https://www.iu13.org/community/community-education/workforce-education/employer-engagement-program/.


Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 and its partners received $350,000 through competitive funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant #90ZN0017. The project is financed 100 percent with federal funds. The contents of this press release are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.