Providing virtual services and resources to new Americans


Like I have mentioned in previous columns, to keep our staff and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Capital Area Michigan Works! will only provide services remotely until further notice. One program in particular – the New American Navigator program – continues to provide virtual services and resources to clients.

A new American – and those who are eligible to apply for program support – is someone who lives in the large community of Lansing and has documents that establish their legal work authorization. These newcomers can be immigrants and refugees as well as asylum seekers in some cases.

The goal of the New American Navigator program is to support refugees and immigrants, breaking down language and cultural barriers to ensure a successful transition to the Michigan workforce. Luke Schroeder, who runs the program, provides referrals to services and resources, including language acquisition / English as a second language, employment, high school diploma / equivalency, housing, health care, child care, transportation, civil rights and legal resources, professional license and more.

Schroeder has adapted its customer service to stay in touch with its customers via email, text, phone and virtual meetings.

In early March, Schroeder set out to write and translate a text message in 12 languages ​​to explain the change in his services to practically direct and guide new Americans where to find jobs and access resources during the pandemic.

Emphasize the importance of information and technology during the “governor”Decree “Stay home, stay safe”, Schroeder has developed a Navigator newsletter which is emailed once a month to its clients, including links to critical resources as well as current job leads.

“By distributing an email newsletter, I encourage past and current customers to use and become familiar with their email accounts during this time,” said Schroeder. “I hope when we get out of this, as a community, we will be more digital savvy in the future. “

Schroeder communicated with employers and distributed resources to clients who tackle language and digital divides. And he keeps recommending a page on eLearning and soft skills on the Pure Michigan Talent Connect website. Online learning modules are foundational and foundational skills for the workplace to ensure Michigan’s workforce is ready for success. New Americans and all job seekers can visit this page to review their understanding of these words and ideas before being interviewed for a post-COVID-19 career.

In addition, Schroeder is particularly engaged with community stakeholders through regular virtual meetings with the Resource Collaboration for Immigrants and Refugees (IRRC). The IRRC facilitated discussions with stakeholders on distributing information on the basic needs of newcomers to the community. Schroeder also makes regular phone calls with key contacts at Saint-Vincent Catholic Charities and the Refugee Development Center, who also attend IRRC meetings.

“The IRRC seeks to strengthen existing services as well as develop new coalitions. The collaboration continued to facilitate discussions for new Americans during the pandemic regarding health security, income security, housing security and food security, ”said Schroeder. “One of the top priorities is to connect Central Michigan 211 to our newcomers in need. Central Michigan 211 operators offer help in over 180 languages.

For new Americans or employers interested in receiving the newsletter or learning more about the services the program can provide, please contact Schroeder by e-mailing him at [email protected]. New Americans can visit for a full list of important resources as well.

Edythe Copeland is the CEO of Capital Area Michigan Works !. Visit to connect with Capital Area Michigan Works! team for assistance with career exploration or staffing needs. Capital Area Michigan Works !, a proud partner of the American Job Center Network, provides services in Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties at our US employment centers in Lansing, St. Johns and Charlotte. 


Perry A. Thomasson