The Upwork Foundation Grants $1.68 Million To Help People Displaced By Conflict Find Work—No Matter Their Location

Amy Sept
Amy Sept
November 16, 2022
The Upwork Foundation Grants $1.68 Million To Help People Displaced By Conflict Find Work—No Matter Their Location

When conflict forces someone to flee their home, the crisis doesn’t end when they get to a safer place. The displacement can last for years, disrupting everything, including their ability to earn a living. The inability to find work isn’t just a barrier to essentials like food, shelter, and healthcare—it can also inhibit a sense of well-being, belonging, pride, and stability.

This year, The Upwork Foundation is recommending a total of $1.68 million in grants to 12 organizations committed to closing the opportunity gap faced by refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers around the world. The Upwork Foundation works collaboratively with the Tides Foundation to process grants, ensuring grantmaking compliance. The Tides Foundation conducts due diligence on each organization before approving each grant and issuing funds on Upwork’s behalf.

“The war in Ukraine has the headlines, but conflicts around the world have displaced more than 100 million people as of mid-2022. We know finding work is extremely difficult for refugees and immigrants—even once they’re resettled,” said Brian Levey, Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer at Upwork. “We’re proud to support organizations that are helping to create a path toward economic stability and independence.”

The Upwork Foundation funds activities that support knowledge work preparation, job creation, and improved quality of life for traditionally marginalized communities. For 2022, the focus was on supporting groups that have been uprooted due to conflicts. Through these grants, the foundation aims to provide:

  • Better access to work regardless of location. Many refugees and immigrants relocate to countries that don’t have the social services or local job opportunities to support these newcomers. Connecting these professionals to a global network of corporate clients alleviates much of this tension.
  • The right to work. When someone doesn’t have legal standing or permanent residency in a host country, access alone may not matter. Many organizations, including some of this year’s grantees, actively advocate for and support the right for refugees to earn a living.
  • Solutions that help displaced professionals over the longer term. Research shows refugees who are educated and skilled can be impacted by their displacement for many years and would benefit from ongoing support.
  • Help for new business owners. In the U.S., one in four entrepreneurs is an immigrant, launching businesses that can create new jobs for everyone. At the same time, global research shows migrant entrepreneurs often run into hurdles such as discrimination, added bureaucracy, and unfamiliarity with the business market or culture.

By collaborating with our 2022 Upwork Foundation grantees, Upwork is building on its mission to create economic opportunities so that people have better lives—through our work marketplace and beyond.  

The 2022 Upwork Foundation grant recipients

This year’s grantees were recommended due to their:

  • Clear focus on refugees, immigrants, and/or asylum seekers
  • Ability to integrate the voices and priorities of the communities they serve
  • Robust systems in place to track outputs and outcomes
  • Impressive achievements to date

Funding has been recommended for program-specific needs as well as general support.

AsylumWorks

Based in Washington, DC

Focus: U.S.

AsylumWorks empowers asylum seekers and other migrants seeking humanitarian-based legal protection to rebuild their lives safely and with dignity.

The Brave House

Based in New York City, NY

Focus: New York City, NY

The Brave House is a community of support for young immigrant women and gender-expansive youth (ages 16-24) in New York City, with a focus on survivors of gender-based violence.

INCO

Based in Paris, France

Focus: Global

Active in 50 countries, INCO’s mission is to create an economy that is green, inclusive, and sustainable by investing in and supporting innovative companies while equipping individuals facing barriers to employment with future-proof skills.

InReach

Based in New York City, NY

Focus: Global

InReach supports the entire diverse LGBTQ+ community including asylum seekers and refugees; undocumented and other immigrants; young people experiencing homelessness; those facing family or community rejection due to their identity; and other transgender and non-binary people in need of safe resources.

Kiva

Based in San Francisco, CA

Focus: Global

Kiva is on a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. Through Kiva's work, students can pay for tuition, women can start businesses, farmers are able to invest in equipment and families can afford needed emergency care.

Multicultural Refugee Coalition

Based in Austin, Texas

Focus: Austin Metropolitan Area, Texas

The Multicultural Refugee Coalition (MRC) creates livelihood opportunities for refugees. MRC believes in the potential of all refugees to thrive in their new communities through dignified, fair-wage work.

Oakland Bloom

Based in Oakland, CA

Focus: San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Oakland Bloom’s mission is to advance economic equity in the food industry. It supports poor and working-class refugee, immigrant, and BIPOC chefs to launch their own food businesses and to re-envision and reshape what a healthy and just food service industry could look like.

Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE)

Based in Syracuse, NY

Focus: Upstate NY

The mission of Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) is to advocate and promote self-sufficiency through employment, education, social support, and economic independence for members of the refugee and immigrant communities.

RefugePoint

Based in Boston, MA

Focus: Kenya, Africa

RefugePoint advances lasting solutions for at-risk refugees including access to resettlement and other pathways to safety. With a global office in Nairobi, Kenya, RefugePoint is on the ground in Africa to strengthen response solutions that help refugees lead healthy, dignified lives and become contributing members of society again.

TENT Partnership for Refugees

Based in New York City, NY

Focus: Global

TENT mobilizes the business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of refugees forcibly displaced from their home countries. TENT has a network of over 300 major companies committed to integrating refugees into their host communities.

Upwardly Global

Based in New York City, NY

Focus: New York City, NY

Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals, and to advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy.

We Are All America

Based in Chicago, IL

Focus: U.S.

We Are All America works to ensure refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed and supported. WAAA organizes people across religious and cultural differences to build inclusive communities where all belong.

Since 2019, the Upwork Foundation has contributed approximately $3.4 million to fund initiatives that connect traditionally marginalized communities with life-sustaining knowledge work, no matter their location.

To learn more about Upwork’s giving initiatives and to explore a full list of grantee partners, visit the foundation’s website.

Partner With Opportunity Unlimited to Increase Your Impact

One of the initiatives Upwork launched this year is Opportunity Unlimited, a collaboration with TENT aimed at connecting tens of thousands of displaced individuals with remote work opportunities.

While the program was launched in response to the war in Ukraine, it’s designed to connect Upwork clients with displaced talent everywhere, recognizing that remote freelance work is a lifeline for highly skilled professionals who’ve been displaced by conflicts around the globe.  

If you would like to join Opportunity Unlimited as a hiring partner, contact us at opportunityunlimited@upwork.com.

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Amy Sept

Amy Sept (@amysept) is an independent writer, editor, and content marketing strategist who’s dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes navigate the future of work. As a Canadian military spouse and slow traveller, she has a lot of hands-on experience with remote work, productivity hacks, and learning how to "go with the flow."

Want to learn more? Let’s talk talent strategy.

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