WorkWell: Class Is Now In Session

There was a buzz—the anticipation that comes with the first of day school. Every seat in the room was full yesterday. The sun shone outside the second-floor space, and nervous chatter slowed to a hush as we welcomed a group of talented young men and women—each a refugee from Syria—into possibility.

You Saw More Than Refugees.

Back in November, we shared our vision for a first-of-its-kind tech innovation hub for young refugees from Syria and Iraq. We call it WorkWell. It’s an education space for young women and men to come and learn new, high-demand skills—but also a place for them to collaborate together, receive coaching, and gain access to the global digital marketplace.

We invited you to join us in creating this dynamic place of opportunity. We asked you to see more than just refugees when you look at these young women and men—and you answered the call.

This week, your love provided these bright students a warm welcome and a chance to learn and work in a dignified space, as they figure out how to navigate and thrive in the digital marketplace.

Why WorkWell?

In any war, teenagers and young adults are some of the hardest hit. They’re among the most vulnerable of those affected. In Syria and Iraq, they represent more than half the population.

There are so many bright minds unable to finish high school or university, unable to access well-paying jobs, and thrust to the margins of the workforce before they can even begin their careers.

We meet so many young people who were on track to be doctors and engineers, and today find themselves struggling to find low-paying day labour—all because of war.

Refugee camps are confining spaces, with limited economies. Inside the camp fence, there is only so much opportunity to go around.

Our refugee friends from Syria and Iraq deserve better. We’re launching WorkWell to make better possible.

No longer will these refugees be forced to depend on the limited economy of a camp or the goodwill of big aid organizations. They will own their future.

In fact, when they walk through our doors, they won’t be refugees anymore. They’ll be coders, designers, freelancers. That’s why we launched WorkWell outside the refugee camps. This tech innovation hub isn’t about their past. It’s about their future.

A Space Saturated With Creativity

Painters have been busy at WorkWell. Electricians, plumbers, and network installers, too. What was once a disused beauty salon has been transformed into classrooms and coworking spaces. The furniture was made by local craftsmen, an investment in the local economy—it’s been moved into place and now forms a space saturated with creativity.

While tradesmen readied WorkWell’s physical space, we met with potential students. Application sessions were held at the Syrian camp, giving us a chance to gauge each applicant’s skill and language levels.

Young people at the Syrian refugee camp filling out applications for a spot in the WorkWell program.

Then came the home visits with those who showed real interest and aptitude. We had spent some time talking about their families, hopes, and dreams.

We finalized curriculum for our first session, and made sure that we had teachers like our friend Allen in place, ready to invest in students.

Class Is now in Session!

Just a few days ago, Jessica shared our progress, as we worked hard to have everything ready in time. This week, we got to welcome new students into a beautiful, professional space.

We are so excited! Thanks to you, we are ready to give these students a new set of keys to unlock their future.

As Jessica told the assembled group yesterday, we are ready to support them in learning and developing a career. The only limits the students have are the ones they put on themselves.

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