OTTUMWA — Several organizations are joining forces to host the EMBARC Iowa AmeriCorps Refugee RISE program in the fall.

The program trains emerging leaders from refugee and immigrant communities to connect and support others with education, jobs and services that increase economic opportunity.

AmeriCorps Refugee RISE members will be hosted by the city of Ottumwa and will work on developing a refugee and immigrant community needs assessment, which will provide a profile of such communities in Ottumwa, specific needs, priorities and goals. City staff will then make the document available to the city council as well as other government agencies and community organizations.

“Ottumwa has avoided the economic stagnation that affected other Iowa cities, in part because of the contributions of our immigrant and refugee communities,” said City Planner Zach Simonson, who will supervise the team. “Keeping up with providing services is a growing challenge when we have over 60 languages spoken in the community.”

Members will be based out of City Hall with supervision from the planning department. In addition, Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation and JBS have provided support for the program.

Legacy has offered a $5,000 Nonprofit Capacity Support Grant to help share information with the AmeriCorps team and will share in implementing the needs assessment.

“A primary goal of our Capacity Grant program is to strengthen infrastructure so organizations can better achieve their missions,” said Amy Nossaman, grants program manager at the Legacy Foundation. “The information gathered by the Ottumwa AmeriCorps team will help not only the city of Ottumwa, but many other organizations to better serve our immigrant and refugee population.”

JBS’ $1,000 contribution will support he team with information about and access to the refugee and immigrant members of its workforce.

For more information, contact Simonson at 641-683-0606 or simonsonz@ottumwa.us.

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