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Empowering job-seekers one laptop at a time

Happy recipients of laptops from the City of Boise. Photo: Megan Schwab/IRC

For years, Kriste Bergman, an IT Field Technician with the City of Boise, has repurposed laptops no longer in use by City Hall's programs, wiped and refurbished them, and dropped them off in bundles of fifteen to twenty at the International Rescue Committee in Boise. 

Kriste is part of a long-term partnership with the IRC in Boise's Employment and Economic Wellbeing (E&EW) team. E&EW works with refugees looking for employment and other vocational opportunities. They seek to understand clients' employment backgrounds, assist clients in building their vocational and linguistic skillsets, and teach clients how to independently find, and keep, jobs. That third component includes teaching clients to navigate the increasingly-digitized world of online job search and application submission - an endeavor made possible by partners such as Kriste. 

A newly-arrived refugee family from Colombia, all eager to find work, receive their donation of refurbished laptops from the City of Boise. Photo: Megan Schwab/IRC

The newly refurbished laptops she donates are distributed to very proud new owners: newly-arrived refugees who are enrolled in the Matching Grant financial assistance program. Clients who enroll in the Matching Grant program are ready to find employment as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States. While English language capability is often a factor in determining which clients are good candidates for the program's intensive schedule, desire and determination to achieve self-sufficiency are the primary considerations. 

Computers empower these driven and capable job-seekers to find work independently. Moreover, they give clients access to greater online English language resources, allow them to practice speed and dexterity on computer systems, and help them connect to loved ones around the world via email and social media. 

Want to connect to this incredible program? The IRC in Boise is looking for Computer Literacy Assistants! Help distribute and teach basic computer skills to newly-arrived refugees by volunteering with this program.  

Teach computer literacy by becoming a volunteer with the IRC in Boise!

Photo: Megan Schwab/IRC