Polk County Decategorization

Resources for Refugees & Immigrants


Refugee Resources

Help EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center) win $125,000 from Google as a grant. This is a great opportunity to support thier mission!!!

All you need to do it VOTE!!! 


Citizenship Program at Oakridge Begins SOON!

كورسالتحضيرالمتحان الجنسية

  • August 1 – September 26, 2019
  • 6:00 – 7:30pm • Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
  • Oakridge Neighborhood 1401 Center St. Des Moines, IA 50314

(515) 244-7702 For info please email Almardi A: aabdalla@oakridgeneighborhood.org

كورس التحضير المتحان الجنسية االمريكية المجاني. الثالثاء واالربعاء والخميس

Practice the 100 questions, lectures, mock interviews; learn about the US government, your elected officials & more. 


Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa (RACI) Resource Directory

WOW - thank you to RACI for sharing this link to their online Resource Directory for Refugee & Immigrant neighbors living in & around Des Moines and Polk County! 

Citizenship Classes at LSI Now Enrolling!

SUMMER CYCLE:  July 15 – September 19, 2019


  • Morning Class – LOW BEGINNING
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • 9:30am – 11:30am
  • Afternoon Class – HIGH BEGINNING
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • 12:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Evening Class – INTERMEDIATE
  • Monday and Wednesday
  • 5:30pm – 8:00pm

NOTE: When our fall cycle begins in October, these levels will be offered at different times (High and Low Beginning to be in the evening, Intermediate TBD, but likely to be in the morning).  This helps us better accommodate the various work schedules of our students.

Any students interested in taking a summer citizenship class, and who have been legal permanent residents for 5 years, should bring their green cards and $20 to LSI to register.

Thanks for spreading the word! Please contact Karen Clement at LSI with any questions :) 

DMACC - Scholarships for Refugee students

DMACC has multiple options for scholarships for refugee students.  The Eddy Refugee Scholarships (there are 2 available) are available for students continuing with their post-secondary education.  More information can be found here.

LSI Individual Development Account (IDA) Program

Program Goals:

  • Help you save for a car*, home, business, or education.
  • Help you to learn about:
  • money in the United States;
  • practicing good savings habits and,
  • how banks and credit unions can help you.

*Program allows for:

First vehicle purchase, or;
second vehicle purchase, but ONLY if multiple adults in the family are working or attending post-secondary education/vocational training.

You can participate in this program if you:

  • arrived in the US with refugee status
  • have been in the US for less than 5 years (if saving for a car, less than 3 years)
  • have income (a job)
  • are at or below 200% poverty

To sign up for this program, you will need:

  • A valid ID
  • I-94 Form or Green Card
  • Proof of income ( one month of pay stubs for every working member of your family)

Contact Information: Benjamin Spick, LSI, Benjamin.Spick@lsiowa.org

The Immigrant Visa Process

Are you aware of the immigrant visa process? Please check out here!.


Please see Jody Mashek’s (Co-chair of the legal work group of the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa) link to recently updated version of the list of attorneys and non-profit organizations providing immigration legal services here.

If you have questions about the list, please email Jody Mashek (JMashek@afsc.org).

High-quality, free, confidential  Legal Service Program

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Des Moines Field Office (USCRI - Des Moines) is a leading expert in providing refugee resettlement services and wraparound support to local refugees and immigrants. As part of its holistic service model, the Legal Services Program offers high-quality, affordable legal services, including consultations, direct and consultations will be provided free of charge to qualitying individuals and language services are available. Download a flyer here.

Bridging Refugee Youth & Children's Services

>Parenting Handbooks:

>BRYCS interactive Online Training Modules are available! Click here to learn more.

Current courses include:

  • Discrimination & Bullying of Refugee Youth
  • Preventing Child Maltreatment in ORR/DCS-Funded Care Provider Programs
  • Raising Children in a New Country (English & Somali)
  • Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development (English & Nepali)
  • Refugee and Immigrant Family and Community Engagement in the Schools
  • Refugee 101: With a Special Look at Child-Specific Issues

New Online Resource for Supporting Refugee Children and Families


EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy & Resource Center)

Education, advocacy & community development focusing on refugees from Burma. Offers youth tutoring sessions, Adult ESL classes, empowerment and advocacy initiatives, and provides connections to community resources for linguistic or cultural integration. Resources include Health Guide and Legal Guide in English, Lao, Vietnamese, Burmese, Karen, Khmer, and Hmong translations. If you would like more information call 515-650-3339 or visit their website here

Nisaa African Women's Project

Nisaa is a non-profit that aims to end domestic violence and sexual assault in African immigrant and refugee communities by promoting social, economic, political self-determination of all women. If you are in Des Moines, call 515-288-0881. if you are in Iowa City, call 319-333-2453, or visit their website here

American Friends Service Committee

Immigrant & refugee outreach & support, legal assistance. For more information call          515-274-4851 or visit their website here and for a list of immigration attorneys in our area, click here

ArtForce Iowa DSM Heroes Program

DSM HEROES is a supportive arts-based community for immigrant, refugee and first-generation American youth who have experienced violence and trauma.

Artist Mentors create friendly opportunities for arts experimentation and learning in a multi-lingual atmosphere. Weekly workshops based on young people’s individual interests and informal field trips help them adjust to a new culture and build resiliency.

DSM Heroes is designed for youth who fit a specific profile.  Participants should:

  • Be a refugee/immigrant
  • Live in Polk County
  • Show an interest in the arts
  • Be between 12 and 19 years old
  • Receive free or reduced priced lunches

Victim of crime including, but not limited to hate crimes, sexual abuse, child abuse, trafficking. (We consider their refugee status enough evidence of crime and do not need to pry further.)

Be available to participate in at least 1 to 2 workshops per week.













Trauma Parenting Handbooks Immigration Immigrant Refugee Online Resources