PRESS RELEASE: Major Companies Pledge to Help Afghan Refugees Advance Their Careers with Support of U.S. Military Veterans
- Major companies including American Airlines, Google, Hilton, Merck, Pfizer, and Starbucks join the Tent Partnership for Refugees’ new Afghan Refugee Mentorship Program – an initiative aiming to mentor 1,500 Afghan refugees over the next three years
New York, March 16, 2023 – Today, the Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent) announced a new initiative alongside Hiring Our Heroes and the Afghan-American Foundation to help Afghan refugees in the United States enter the workforce and advance in their careers. The program will enlist military veterans employed at participating U.S. companies – including through their veterans employee resource groups (ERGs) – to serve as mentors, with the goal of providing mentorship to at least 1,500 Afghan refugees over the next three years.
In an event that featured remarks from U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, a first tranche of 16 companies announced their commitment to mentor Afghan refugees: American Airlines, Bain & Co., Chobani, Cisco, Google, HelloFresh, Hilton, Intuit, ISS, Merck, Micron, Pfizer, SAP, Sodexo, Softchoice, and Starbucks. Each company will mentor 50 Afghan refugees or more over three years, collectively reaching at least 800 of the initiative’s 1,500 goal.
“The United States has welcomed approximately 90,000 Afghan newcomers since the fall of Kabul in August of 2021, and U.S. Veterans in particular have been tireless in their efforts to support the Afghan allies they once stood shoulder to shoulder with,” said U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Denis McDonough. “Afghan refugee mentorship provides an invaluable opportunity for U.S. vets to foster meaningful relationships with their Afghan allies, all while playing a pivotal part in helping them secure the long-term stability they desire and deserve. I encourage many more American companies to join this effort, especially those at the forefront of employing our nation’s Veterans.”
Complementing Tent’s wider mission of connecting refugees to work – including through employment by the more than 300 major companies in Tent’s network – the mentorship program will champion Afghan refugee mentees in their career growth. Each will be connected with a mentor who will provide 1:1 guidance on topics such as navigating the U.S. job market and workplace norms, how to craft an effective resume, job interview practice, professional network growth, and more. Critically, as many Afghans face steep career barriers despite their extensive professional and educational backgrounds, the program will support mid-to-high skilled Afghans as they look to bridge to roles more commensurate with their experience.
“Finding a first job provides a hugely important sense of security and relief to many refugees; but it can also mean that refugees often take jobs that are not commensurate with their skills or expertise,” said Gideon Maltz, CEO of Tent. “I am so proud of the vanguard of companies that have joined this initiative – thanks to their support, and the many more companies to come, [thousands of] Afghans will have clear guidance and support from trusted mentors who can help them pursue opportunities that match their background and expertise.”
The program will be a win-win for Afghan refugees and veterans alike – as the majority of U.S. veterans, and most veterans of Afghanistan, say opportunities to help resettle Afghan allies would improve their mental health or wellbeing, according to research by More in Common.
Eric Eversole, President of Hiring Our Heroes said, “As veterans in the U.S. know all too well, the pathway to employment is not always a simple one. We are so proud to be partnering with Tent on this mentorship program to engage veterans at businesses across the U.S. so that they can continue to nurture the strong bonds that were forged with their Afghan allies overseas, and play a vital role in helping Afghan refugees to thrive in the U.S. workforce.”
“Pfizer’s veterans colleague resource group has a deep commitment to leadership and service, and Tent’s Afghan Mentorship Program is an incredible way that our CRG members can put these into practice,” said Payal Sahni, Pfizer’s Chief People Experience Officer. “By serving as mentors, they can play a critical role in the resettlement journey of Afghans in the U.S. and help ensure that Afghans have support and opportunity to grow professionally. We are proud to be a part of the first cohort of companies to pledge our participation in this unique initiative.”
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Tent and CEO of Chobani, said, “I am so proud of Chobani and the other companies that have pledged to step up for Afghan refugees. It is a beautiful thing to witness the deep bond between U.S. veterans and their Afghan allies, and this program will allow that to develop further. I urge even more businesses, especially ones already leading the way in hiring U.S. veterans, to join us.”
To help companies successfully implement their programs at scale, Tent, Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS), and the Afghan-American Foundation have jointly developed a practical step-by-step mentorship guide which can be viewed here.
Mustafa Babak, Executive Director of the Afghan-American Foundation, said, “For Afghans who are starting over in the U.S., a supportive network and trusted advisors are keys to success. We’re proud to partner with Tent on this program and this guidebook to ensure that Afghan newcomers can access culturally relevant mentorship and be given the opportunity and support they need to successfully integrate into their new home and the U.S. workforce.”
This initiative builds on Tent’s suite of mentorship programs around the world, including ones supporting LGBTQ refugees in North America, the UK and Germany, as well as those focused on refugee women in Europe, which collectively have mobilized more than 80 companies to mentor more than 4,300 refugees.
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About the Tent Partnership for Refugees:
With more and more refugees displaced for longer periods of time, businesses have a critical role to play in helping refugees integrate economically in their new communities. Tent was launched in 2016 by Hamdi Ulukaya, the CEO and founder of Chobani – a multibillion dollar food company in the U.S. – to mobilize global businesses to fill this gap by helping connect refugees to work. Today, we are a network of over 300 major companies committed to hiring, training, and mentoring refugees. Find out more at www.tent.org.
About Hiring Our Heroes
Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) is a 501(c)3 organization under the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The non-profit launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, HOH has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment through its comprehensive training and hiring events, fellowship programs, and online tools. HOH programs and services are available in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and on military installations worldwide. Find our more at HiringOurHeroes.org
About the Afghan-American Foundation:
The Afghan-American Foundation (AAF) is a non-profit and non-partisan organization founded in January 2020 to advance and promote the interests of Afghan-Americans through thought leadership, policy advocacy, and public education and engagement. Our constituents are Afghans in the United States, a population which is expected to exceed half a million people at the conclusion of the current wave of resettlement. Over the past two years, AAF has focused primarily on a humane and dignified resettlement of evacuated Afghans through high-level advocacy. AAF seeks to serve, support, and represent Afghan-Americans through five main venues: principled advocacy; coalition building; civic engagement; education and enablement; and research and analysis. Find out more at www.afghanamericans.org.