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December 19, 2000

Department of Human Services Wins Award to Assist Refugees in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that the Department of Human Services (DHS) was awarded more than $274,000 from a national grant competition to serve Illinois' refugee community. DHS will distribute the grant to the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, the Heartland Alliance and the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center.

"It is very important to the citizens of this state, that we take advantage of all opportunities to increase Illinois' share of federal resources," said Governor Ryan. "These federal dollars give us a greater opportunity to help all community organizations provide job training services to their residents."

The Vietnamese Association of Illinois will use its award of more than $168,000 to increase the number of participants in its Refugee Electronic Assembly Classroom Training (REACT) program by over 100 trainees. REACT is designed to help refugees gain the English language and career skills they need to work in a manufacturing, metal working or assembly position. Instructors for the REACT program are primarily drawn from electronics companies and, as a result, have an intimate knowledge of the manufacturing process. To date, more than 280 refugees have become employed at an average wage of $7.50 per hour, with full benefits. The program has been especially successful in placing women in electronic assembly and metal working jobs.

The Heartland Alliance administers the International Refugee Center, serving 1,000 refugees from Kosovo who have settled throughout the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Their award of more than $47,000 will enable the Alliance to sponsor greater communications and cultural programs.

The East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center in Champaign will receive more than $58,000 to help refugee women adjust to life in America as both wage-earners and homemakers.

"The mission of DHS is to help families achieve self-sufficiency and reach their maximum potential," explained DHS Secretary, Linda ReneƩ Baker. "The local agencies receiving these grants are obviously doing a great job in helping their customers meet these goals. I am glad the federal government has confidence in our partnerships, and has awarded us these competitive funds to expand services to more refugee families."

The Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services at DHS was among thirteen applicants who were chosen for funding by the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services. The Department was chosen because of its innovative ability to meet the needs of Illinois' refugee population.


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