In Effort to Help Refugees Resettle in New York, Governor Hochul Announces SUNY to Open Educational Opportunity Centers to Refugees by Waiving the Residency Requirement for Admission In Order to Provide Free ESL Courses and Certifications to Connect Them to Local Job Opportunities
SUNY Buffalo State College Partners to Reserve Unused Dorm Space for Temporary Housing and Provides Excess Laptops On-Site
SUNY Working to Deliver Additional Computers in Order to Access Education Programs for Evacuees Across the State
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced partnerships and resources to provide a safe haven for Afghan evacuees in New York State, including educational resources and temporary housing to support evacuees as they seek to resettle in the United States.
"We can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow with compassion, imagination, and grit, and there are vast resources across the State to give the Afghan evacuees a solid start here in the United States," said Governor Hochul. "This is a call to action, to uphold our state's proud history of sheltering evacuees from persecution and violence. The arduous journey that thousands of Afghans have taken over the last few weeks is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new chapter that we can help them write."
Believing in and encouraging the civic contributions immigrants bring to our society, The State University of New York will open its 10 Educational Opportunity Centers across New York State to refugees, waiving the New York State 1-year residency requirement for admission. Any evacuee can, and is encouraged to, apply for free courses, certificate and credentialing programs, and mentorship for seeking a post-secondary education and skills for job opportunities. SUNY is partnering with Rochester-based Keeping Our Promise, to develop courses specific to supporting this refugee population, such as an English as a Second Language course tailored for Dari, Farsi, and Pashto speakers.
Collaboration among refugee resettlement providers and federal and state programs such as the U.S. Department of State's Afghan Placement and Assistance Program, the New York State Department of State's Office for New Americans, and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Bureau of Refugee Services will be paramount to establishing a process to identify skills, training, talents, and backgrounds of individual refugees and build plans for their education, training needs, or licensure qualifications to support their entrance into New York's workforce.
To assist with temporary housing needs, SUNY's campus at Buffalo State College has partnered with local agencies to reserve vacant dorm space for transitional housing for up to 100 evacuees. Buffalo State and SUNY will also provide excess laptops to Afghan evacuees on site to assist them to access educational programming. It is expected that any individual age 12 and up will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before arriving on Buffalo State's campus. The arrival and support of evacuees while temporarily residing at the college will be coordinated by Buffalo United for Afghan Refugees, a coalition of five Buffalo area organizations leading the region's resettlement efforts.
SUNY is also working to give additional computers that are being rotated out of service to potential students, to help support resettlement of evacuees. These assets would be used to set up computer labs in libraries, resettlement offices, or locations across the state offering services for evacuees.
The Office for New Americans also has a hotline that can connect immigrants and refugees to free services across the state. The Hotline can be reached at 1-800-566-7636 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays, with assistance available in more than 200 languages.
The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is working with the federal Afghan Placement and Assistance providers to track arrivals of Afghan evacuees. Afghan evacuees can be served under the agency's programs for services such as employment assistance, cultural orientation and school acclimation just to name a few.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said, "Public higher education empowers social mobility and social progress and it's part of our core mission to open our doors to individuals in need. The entire SUNY community thanks Governor Hochul for her leadership in opening New York's door to Afghan evacuees. We will do our part by providing high quality educational opportunities so they can be part of the American dream. We are made stronger by their stories and their heritage, and we welcome them with safety and opportunity."
Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner said, "As a college committed to social justice, diversity, and inclusion, Buffalo State strives to be a steadying and compassionate force in a world riddled with chaos and injustice. We have made it part of our mission to reach out to local, national and global communities to help individuals from all backgrounds and ethnicities who may be suffering. Buffalo State thanks Governor Hochul and Chancellor Malatras for leading the way in New York State to welcome and support these individuals on their journey to a better life. We also thank Catholic Charities of Buffalo, the International Institute of Buffalo, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Jewish Family Services, and Journey's End Refugee Services for all of their efforts to welcome these cherished individuals to our region."
Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, Interim Executive Director of the International Institute of Buffalo said, "We at the International Institute of Buffalo believe that New York State is made stronger by immigrants and refugees, and our mission is to resettle evacuees while providing them with safety, respect, dignity, education and employment opportunities. We thank Governor Kathy Hochul for welcoming the Afghan evacuees with open arms, and working with local partners such as IIB to usher in this incoming population and raise them up, giving them a new start."