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Blue Sky Day

Community-Based ESL

Our Refugee English and Acculturation Program (REAP) provides community-based English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to help legal refugees overcome the language and cultural challenges they face after arriving in Iowa. We offer accessible English classes, opportunities for students to increase cultural awareness and guidance to students as they develop the skills they need to become active members of the community.

Our classes take place in the churches, community centers and apartment complexes where students meet or live. Refugee students, like many other adult learners, may face major hurdles to class attendance, such as a lack of transportation or childcare. Recognizing their unique needs, our bilingual staff work with students to find solutions that allow them to get to class and find time to focus on their own learning.

Our program helps students learn to successfully interact with native English speakers both in the community and workplace. We teach students, who may or may not read in their first languages, basic literacy skills and help them to read in English. When students are ready for more advanced study, they are referred to other community-based work readiness ESL programs, or Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) for academic or citizenship classes.

We rely on you to fulfill our program’s mission! Classes are led by dedicated and well-trained volunteer teachers. We provide our teachers with pre-service training, monthly in-service training opportunities and ongoing support and communication.


Are you already a volunteer ESL teacher? Find tools and resources here.

Register for Classes

Click here to sign up an ESL student. A bilingual community associate will contact potential students and help guide them to the class best suited to their needs.

For questions, please contact LSI at 515.271.7335.


This program is made possible by a grant from the Iowa Department of Human Services Bureau of Refugee Services and the following organizations:

  • EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center)
  • Oakridge Neighborhood Services
  • Catholic Charities
  • US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
  • Iowa Department of Human Services Bureau of Refugee Services
  • Iowa Department of Human Rights Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs
  • Drake University School of Education

Interested in hosting a class? Apply to be a host site. Host Site Application (PDF Format)

View the current class schedule and calendar

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