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We have received national attention and now our students (your constituents) want your attention.

We have a partnership with International Service Center (ISC), a refugee resettlement agency. Currently we are working with Refugees from Bhutan, Burma and Iraq.

Cleveland City Club forum spotlights surprising group of immigrant achievers: The Mix


By Robert L. Smith, The Plain Dealer
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on March 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM, updated March 20, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Since immigrating to Cleveland from a refugee camp in Bhutan, Nar Pradhan and his family have opened two businesses. He stands before the family grocery store near W. 130th Street and Lorain Avenue in October.Lisa DeJong, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland's small but hustling refugee community seems to scale every obstacle thrown its way. A recent economic impact study found that refugees, the region's most desperate immigrants, seize the opportunity to start a new life. Refugees in Cuyahoga County are more likely than members of the general population to hold a job, to be married, to buy a house and to start a business, the study found.

That vitality springs from a modest investment by local resettlement agencies, prompting the study's authors to suggest Cleveland and Cuyahoga County welcome more refugees to a depopulated city.

While no civic leader has yet run with that idea, refugees and their uncommon story have been attracting wider interest. City Music Cleveland commissioned a piece of music celebrating local refugees, Roots to Branches, and performed it this month to enthusiastic audiences. (See the music video here).

As an encore to that project, the chamber orchestra helped arrange an intriguing forum Friday at the City Club of Cleveland. Kerry Kennedy, an expert on world refugee communities, will lead a program called "Exploring the Stories of Modern Refugees."

Kennedy is the daughter of the late Senator Robert Kennedy, who spoke at the City Club in 1968. She will help Clevelanders become acquainted with their newest neighbors as she discusses the nation's "hidden communities" of refugees from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq and Somalia.

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New program drives Clevelanders to succeed

Posted: Jul 24, 2013 9:52 PM EDT

Updated: Jul 24, 2013 10:40 PM EDT

Airon Hall, recipient of the Drive for Success program


A new program is helping recent graduates get past the roadblock to getting a job.

You've probably been there, trying to find a way to get around and get to work. Now, a local program is making it a little easier for those who are working to make their futures brighter.

Virginia Dean along with several others in the "Drive to Succeed" program have plenty to smile about.

"I'm extremely excited. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much," said Virginia.

Virginia was riding away with a new Nissan. It's all a part of a pilot program with the Collection Auto Group in Middleburg Heights and the Cleveland Foundation.

"People actually had to turn down jobs because of the lack of transportation and no public transportation to get them," said India Lee.

India Lee is with the Cleveland Foundation. She tells us now participants don't have to worry about getting around because their transportation will be their own.

The foundation has two different programs "New Bridge", which trains people to get into the medical field and the "Evergreen Cooperatives Program. It gives participants the opportunity to potentially own the business they work at.

"They didn't just give us a car and say ok. They are actually sitting down with us making sure we're making a payment. Working on our credit. That's one of the best parts to me," stated Airon Hall.

Participants won't have to make payments for the first three months and they will pay just $200 for the next nine months until it's time to purchase the car. So not only do they get new cars, participants get help with establishing credit and financial coaching.

A new ride and a new lease on life. The skills these participants say puts them on the road to success.

"Focus on our jobs and providing for our families and for ourselves. We don't have to worry about getting from point A-to-B," said Virginia Dean.

Organizers of the pilot program hope they can continue it next year.

Copyright 2013 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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