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Mid-City CAN Blog

Group works to encourage health careers

African Coalition Workforce includes Founder and Executive Director Sadad Ali, left, and part-time staff member Subeer Heif. Photo courtesy African Coalition Workforce

African Coalition Workforce includes Founder and Executive Director Sadad Ali, left, and part-time staff member Subeer Heif. Photo courtesy African Coalition Workforce

African Coalition Workforce started in 2010 to create economic opportunity and build self-sufficiency for African refugees, immigrants, and City Heights residents, but the group's work found new focus after Obamacare – or the Affordable Care Act – was implemented.

"With millions of new patients with health insurance for the first time, there is a critical shortage of a culturally diverse health-care workforce," wrote the group's founder and executive director Sadad Ali. "Now is the perfect time to start developing the next generation of diverse healthcare workers."

To do that, the group is participating in the Health-Career Pipeline project, which is part of the Building Healthy Communities Initiative, a 10-year, $1 billion effort to change the way that health happens in 14 communities throughout California – including City Heights.

The project provides health career support and opportunities for middle, high-school and community college students in City Heights. Group members work under the umbrella of the City Heights Partnership for Children.

"For this collaborative to be highly efficient, it will need a collective effort from all partners," Ali wrote.

Also included in the group, called the Health Career Collaborative Action Network, are Rady Children's Faces for the Future Program, United Women of East Africa Support Team and San Diego Unified School District, Mid-City Community Advocacy Network and several other agencies.

The group began meeting in November and will meet monthly for six months to develop and implement a plan that focuses on building health careers for residents. To do this, it is working to support parent engagement and community leaders in understanding health career opportunities, as well as developing scholarship and financial aid for students.

City Heights' large immigrant and refugee population make efforts like these essential, Ali said. After being born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Ali came to San Diego in 1994 as a child in a family of refugees. He knows how important – and how difficult it can be – for immigrants and refugees to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Difficulties that he believes can be overcome with education provided by his group.

"We provide life enhancing skills and culturally relevant training," Ali wrote.

The organization builds financial literacy and develops youth leadership. It also provides employment assistance through resume building, job coaching and teaching interview strategies.

Ali is involved with community groups like Mid-City Community Advocacy Network, where he is on its Coordinating Council, or board, as well as helping to lead its Peace Promotion group. Ali also is a former Health Equity Fellow with the Greenlining Institute.

The African Coalition Workforce has worked with seven residents who found a job and are still employed within the last two months, Ali said, and supported 50 others in their efforts to find work.

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