Asian American Civic Association
Asian American Civic Association successes

Summer 2015
In This Issue
Jesus Cruz 
 AACA has conducted targeted outreach to 18-24 year olds over the past year with generous funding from SkillWorks. We believe that intervention with this age demographic
 is key to addressing barriers to employment. 

Stuck in a low-wage job at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Jesus Cruz, a 23-year-old Bostonian, enrolled in the Building Energy Efficient Maintenance Skills Training Program (BEEMS) at AACA.

After he graduated, he was placed in a job making significantly higher wages at Boston University Medical Campus Facilities Management and Planning.

Referring to AACA's staff, he said, "They worked really hard and their main goal is truly to get you trained and find a job. I'll be friends with them for a long time."
Cruz said he learned a lot he did not know in BEEMS. He learned appliance repair and took what he learned to fix his own washing machine. 

"I used to be scared to mess around with appliances and construction. This place made me comfortable with everything. I know my tools and know the process." 

"I'm not scared to bring a wall down and build it back because of AACA," Cruz said.

You have received AACA's summer newsletter. Check out our updates and success stories. As always, we thank you for your support.
New Roots program growing

When Cyndy Chapin, AACA's Director of Employment Services, first met Farah (name has been changed to protect her privacy), she was struck by Farah's poise and knowledge of banking and finance. 

But Farah's experience in banking and her graceful personality didn't help her get a job at a bank in the United States. Once a bank branch manager in Iran, she found that her skills didn't neatly translate. She was rejected after several rounds of interviews and found herself unemployed. After completing the New Roots to Employment Program at AACA which is geared towards immigrants like Farah who have professional credentials from their native countries, Farah learned the job readiness skills and English for the workplace she needed to become a competitive candidate. She was hired as a Personal Banker earning $20 per hour at Bank of America, one of our employer partners. 

Thanks to a grant from English for New Bostonians (ENB), AACA was able to launch the hybrid distance learning/face to face New Roots to Employment Program to target immigrant adults 18 to 50 with a bachelor's degree or higher from their native countries. A new cycle of New Roots will start in October with an expanded grant from ENB.  

During our pilot program, all 15 participants completed the initial four month courses and the four month job search phase. Success stories include:
  • A former head of operations for an international retail and commercial bank in Nigeria with 14 years of experience wasn't able to find work in the United States. After enrolling in the New Roots program, he landed a job as a senior banker at Citizens Bank. 
  •  A New Roots graduate who earned an MBA in IT Engineering Technology from Vietnam had 8 years of IT Engineering experience before coming to the United States. Before entering the New Roots program, he was working a minimum wage job in the Boston Globe's mail room. After finishing New Roots, he found a full-time Technical Support position at JVS.
  • Originally from Cuba, one New Roots graduate held a postgraduate degree in Civil Engineering and worked for 19 years as a project manager across four countries. The New Roots program helped her to improve her English so that she could start a certificate and OSHA training program at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

U.S. Army interpreter lands banking job after fleeing Afghanistan

Shukrullah Fnu's dream of working in banking came true when he accepted a job as a teller at Bank of America. He had just graduated from AACA's Careers in Banking & Finance Training Program. But his path to his success came with steep challenges. Originally from Afghanistan, Fnu worked as an interpreter with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan for four years where he met with high-ranking authorities and conducted combat operations. Because of his work, Fnu said his own people threatened him. "I had to leave my family and my country because of my safety," he said. 

Fnu said he faced additional hurdles adjusting to life in Boston. "When I arrived in the U.S. the first time, I was totally lost because everything was new for me. I didn't know where to begin life. I was so desperate." He was working as a cashier when  he met someone who changed his life. She worked at the bank where he went to check his account. When he told her his life story and his dream of working in banking, she shared her experience of getting a job through AACA's Careers in Banking & Finance Training Program. Fnu decided to enroll. 

"I learned a lot of things in that program about banking regulations, policies and procedures, cash handling methods, and customer service..." he said. "This was my dream to work in the bank. I love my job, I love the environment and AACA helped me to reach my dreams."
Adult Education scholarships

Two graduates of AACA's Next Steps Transitional English Program (Next STEP) were among 20 winners of this year's $1,000 scholarships awarded by First Literacy.  The winners were recognized by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh at a City Hall ceremony on August 6.

Evegeniia Kagramanova, a native of Russia, will attend University of Massachusetts, Boston in September to study economics.  Pei Xia (Peggie) Kuang, who immigrated from China, won a second year continuation scholarship after winning for first time in 2014.  She is currently majoring in mathematics at Quincy College.

Both women said they are very grateful to the Next STEP staff and to the Asian American Civic Association for helping them prepare for and reach their goal of higher education.

Next STEP has sent 127 students to college in the past 3 1/2 years. With continued support during college from AACA, 83% of these eligible graduates have completed a certificate or degree.

Additionally, in 2015 alone, AACA has already seen 30 Next STEP students go to college.

Thank you to our banking partners !

Our banking partners not only generously donate their time and resources to provide workshops for our students at AACA, they also hire them.

As Ngurah Paramarta, a former banker in Indonesia, said at AACA when he got a job at Citizens Bank, "I'm very excited. This is the best gift." Thank you to our partners for providing workshops on financial literacy, identity theft prevention, and interview dress etiquette. Partners providing these workshops include Bank of America, Citizens Bank

Santander, People's United Bank, Citibank, East West Bank, Cathay Bank, TD Bank, Eastern Bank, and Webster Bank.

Gala 2015: Their Courage to be New

AACA's annual gala was held aboard the Odyssey Boston on June 26 . The biggest annual fundraiser event for AACA was co-chaired by retired community developer Stanley Chen, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center Michael Wagner, and President of the Druker Company Ltd. Ron Druker. The gala was a roaring success. Over 400 guests came and $285,000 was raised. Thank you to all who attended and supported our 2015 Gala!  

Community Service awardees: Richard Soo Hoo, President, Richard Soo Hoo Insurance Agency;  David Chang, AACA board member and Chinatown Community Volunteer. 

Employer of the Year award: Peabody Properties, Inc. 

Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation College Achievement Award: Reda Othman,  Next Steps Transitional English (Next STEP) Program 

George A. Russell Jr. Career Advancement Award : Ann Zhang, Graduate of Careers in Banking & Finance Training Program. 


Funders and other updates

Thank you to our latest funders

City of Boston Mayor's Office of Workforce Development: $50,000 for the Employment Center
BNY Mellon $5,000   Eugene Fay Mini Grant for data conversion
Citizens Bank: $25,000 for the Careers in Banking & Finance Training Program
English for New Bostonians :  $43,000 for the New Roots Program
United Way: $96,000 for Operating Support
SkillWorks: $60,000 for BEEMS
Smith Family Foundation: $172,340 for Next STEP
Cummings Foundation : $33,333 for Workforce Development
MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: $ 227,160 for Next STEP
Boston PIC: $75,000 for the Youth Employment Center
Bank of America Foundation : $35,000 for the Workforce Development Center
Paul and Edith Babson Foundation: $4,000 for the Youth Employment Center

The AACA Employment Center Computer Center will hold a grand opening at 2 p.m. on September 16. The computer lab will be open on the first and third Monday of each month. 

A multilingual staff will be available to help with your job search, online applications, resumes and professional development. There will also be monthly workshops on the last Monday of each month on job-related subjects. See the calendar for event information. To participate in these programs, become a friend of AACA.

The Multiservice Center's Citizen Project is also seeing a n upswing in visitors from around 20 to more than 60 visitors per month. 

We welcome our new staff:  J eanne McKenna (Director of Buds  & Bl o ssoms Early Education and Care Center) ,  Yiyi  Lu (Outreach Coordinator) , Jane Co (Intake Coordinator/Case Manager) , Christopher Tegmo (ESL Instructor),  Benjamin Christensen (Retention Specialist),  Elizabeth Ford (Employment Specialist), Elaine Liang (Infant Teacher), Diane Wong (ESL Instructor), and Natalie Ornell (Development Associate/Grant Writer)


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