A unique collaboration is helping to improve the lives of some of Utah’s newest residents.
The Utah Refugee Education Center (UREC) is a partnership between the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Salt Lake Community College, and Utah State University. The mission of the UREC is to provide access to higher education and training programs that increase employment, salaries, and the well-being of families in the community.
Jennifer Stitt, a director of community relations at SLCC, says, “If I understand, it is one of the most successful models in the country. There are not a lot of places to look at like this.”
At the UREC, there are a number of different types of programs and benefits offered. One such benefit includes the Child Care Center, where any student can take their children to be taken care of during programs. There are drop-in child care openings in the spring.
The UREC also enables refugees to get entry-level jobs and to move forward and create their own entrepreneurial path. After taking courses, the student should also be able to further their education or monitor their children’s education with the skills they have learned. Refugee service providers are also engaged in different ways; for example, the English Skills Learning Center provides citizenship training classes.
SLCC is a partner in a couple of ways: the college hosts the UREC, and staff provide guidance and training programs. If individuals are DWS clients, their classes are free; however, the client still can complete with a certificate.
The type of programs that are available are focused on key areas, such as employment. Some of them include training programs such as Refugee Leadership Training which is done through the Miller Business Center, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) computer training at the Meadowbrook Campus.
The employment programs are usually provided by DWS. Some of them include a job fair, interview preparation, job connection, and resume preparation.
The refugees are also offered what are called “integration classes,” because not all of the refugees are prepared to participate in a basic English level TANF class. The integrated classes are taught in a common language the refugees can understand.
These integrated classes consist of Job Readiness, English Language Learner, Refugee Community computer class, leadership class, and Health Fairs for 117 vision tests, 203 vaccinations and dental screenings.
The UREC is really trying to create opportunities and help with anything having to do with education that the refugees need.
“While the mission statement is set, how we meet that mission statement, which programs that we can provide that fit the need and how we are engaging people is constantly growing and changing,” Stitt says.