Xcel Energy Empowers Sioux Falls Immigrants with Education

It is always a pleasure to see Eric Pauli, an Xcel Energy representative, at LSS Center for New Americans. His presence usually means we are approaching the joyful and satisfying conclusion to a pre-employment class, also known as a STEP class (Skills That Employ People).  LSS is able to offer these classes to our adult refugee and immigrant learners due in large part to Xcel Energy’s generous financial support of workforce development.

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company operating in eight Western and Midwestern states. The company is committed to providing cost-effective, clean, responsible energy delivered with the highest standards for safety, reliability and responsiveness. Xcel Energy supports communities in four important focus areas: STEM education, workforce development, environmental stewardship, and access to arts and culture.  Xcel Energy has supported LSS since 2004 and the Center for New Americans since 2009.

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On July 6th, Eric Pauli presented learners in the Introduction to Patient Care Course a $7000 check from Xcel Energy that will make future classes like theirs possible.  Grants like these are part of the company’s corporate giving Economic Sustainability focus area, promoting workforce development, workforce readiness, specific job skills training, job placement and job creation.

Students in the Introduction to Patient Care Course pose with Betty Oldenkamp, LSS Executive Director; Carol Hudson, Class Instructor; and Laura Smith-Hill, CNA Education Program Coordinator.

Students in the Introduction to Patient Care Course pose with Betty Oldenkamp, LSS Executive Director; Carol Hudson, Class Instructor; and Laura Smith-Hill, CNA Education Program Coordinator. 

Benefitting from this class were high-level English students from such diverse places as Eritrea and Ethiopia, Belarus and Ukraine, Japan, Bhutan, and Iraq.  The Introduction to Patient Care Course is of particular interest to its instructor, Carol Hudson, who worked as a nurse in Sioux Falls for sixteen years before changing careers to adult education.  Carol shares “Because we have refugees and immigrants who come with work experience and interest in medicine, this class can help them get on the path towards possible licensure in the United States…This class can give guidance to refugees and immigrants interested in the medical field, interested in improving their lives and achieving higher paying jobs…I want people to stay in the medical field and enjoy it.”

The class focuses on introducing its diverse student body to the culture and expectations of the United States medical system.  It covers what to expect if students want to pursue a job in a hospital or nursing home in the United States.  Some former students of the class have gone on to different educational programs where they have received their licensure as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or a B.A. in Nursing.  A current graduate of the class, who was formerly a doctor in Russia, hopes to enroll in a Physician’s Assistant program soon.

Eric Pauli, Xcel Energy Representative, visits with learners from the Introduction to Patient Care Course taught by English Instructor and former nurse, Carol Hudson.

Eric Pauli, Xcel Energy Representative, visits with learners from the Introduction to Patient Care Course taught by English Instructor and former nurse, Carol Hudson.

In 2014, Xcel Energy invested over $13 million in support of communities across its service territory.  Last year, Xcel Energy grants enabled LSS to offer 9 pre-employment classes—STEP classes—whose topics included manufacturing safety, commercial housekeeping, landscaping and gardening, food service and safety, and workplace technology.

Through these STEP classes:

  • 144 refugees and immigrants were served
  • 77% of students obtained employment within 3 months of completing the class
  • 99% of students retained employment after 6 months

Thank you, Xcel Energy, for your financial generosity and partnership, which is helping refugees and immigrants at the LSS Center for New Americans prepare for entry level positions in various fields and move forward in achieving goals of upward mobility and meaningful careers in the medical field.

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