CARES Week: Strategic

LSS CARES … We are Compassionate. We are Appreciative. We are Respectful. We are Ethical. We are Strategic.

Today’s post focuses on the last piece of these values – Strategic.

Many in the community are aware that the education program at the Center for New Americans (CNA) teaches English to refugees and immigrants. Perhaps, though, many of you are unaware of our workforce development program.

More than five years ago, CNA began its STEP Program (Skills That Employ People) that focuses on matching the needs of local employers with the skills of newly arrived immigrants.

In a city that is growing as fast as Sioux Falls, many businesses find it hard to find employees. This is where the CNA STEP program steps in strategically to meet two needs – the needs of employers for good workers and the needs of immigrants to find jobs.

The program has been a resounding success, helping to place hundreds of immigrants and refugees in a variety of local jobs including housekeeping, food service, light manufacturing, and seasonal green house work.


Laura Smith-Hill, the Education Program Coordinator for CNA, said the STEP classes improve the ability of adult English learners to get and keep jobs. “During the past 2 years alone 381 STEP class participants have obtained employment within 2 months or less after completing their STEP classes,” Laura said.

Lisa Kaufman, both a STEP and an English teacher at CNA, said she really enjoys working with students who are so highly motivated.

The students really want to get jobs and so they soak up every bit of information you give them,” she said.

Lisa said local employers say the LSS clients are good hires because they are reliable, loyal, and hardworking. “Our students want to learn more about American culture. They want to interact with others,” Lisa said.


The STEP classes meet eight hours a week for three weeks and focus on job expectations, American workplace culture, dress codes, and English for specific types of jobs. In addition, students attend a separate three-hour class on Fridays that focuses specifically on job interview skills and math and measurements. These Friday classes work to complement the daily classes so that students receive a well-rounded education on a variety of workplace practices.

CNA recently hired a new Job Developer, Tim Buckley, so stay tuned for an interview with him here on this blog.

LSS constantly strives to make all of its services relevant, purposeful, and meaningful. We are Strategic.

Posted by Julie Boutwell-Peterson.

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