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Des Moines nonprofit helping immigrants and refugees gain job-related skills

Genesis Youth Foundation is starting a program to help immigrants and refugees gain better work skills.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A metro organization established to help immigrants and refugees is working to get the people it serves the skills needed for a better job.

Sam Gabriel, a co-founder of Genesis Youth Foundation and a refugee from Liberia, said the new program is being started with the help of a $50,000 grant from Google. 

"Genesis youth foundation basically exists to fill the gap … we exist to level the playing field," he said. 

The foundation was started in 2009 as a way to help mostly African immigrants and refugees adapt to life in the United States. It was also started to help them get opportunities Sam felt were not being afforded to them. 

And now he wants to help the group he serves, their parents and other young adults' lives even easier by learning more job-related skills through his new program.

It will teach participants IT support, project management, data analytics and graphic design.

Tricia Gabriel, the other co-founder and program coordinator, knows what they are doing will help to strengthen the family unit and benefit the community.

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"It is helpful because almost every job you apply for there's some type of IT, some type of computer system … this is a way that the immigrant families can get a step up," she said.

In addition to learning computer skills, mentorship services will also be available to make sure program attendees are focused on gaining useful skills to get a job.

"An individual will come in for computer [classes] but maybe they're struggling with paying their bills," Tricia said. "Genesis can direct them through those avenues as they're coming in for one thing, they're leaving with multiple needs being met." 

Tricia and Sam both hope once people complete the program, they will be able to get good-paying jobs and partly help address the state's workforce shortage.

More information about the program, which the co-founders said is open to everyone, is on their website.

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