People who come to Iowa as refugees and immigrants make our community stronger, richer, and more vibrant. LSI is leading a collaborative community effort to create a new welcome and empowerment center in central Iowa.
This center will serve immigrants, people who came to the U.S. as refugees, and foreign-born populations in central Iowa. We are deeply honored to engage fellow service providers, employers, educators, faith partners, community advocates and activists, and diverse community leaders and influencers to inform what this initiative will look and feel like.
This project was initiated by a steering committee, made up of the City of Des Moines, Polk County, Wells Fargo, and the Greater Des Moines Partnership. These entities have highlighted the need to welcome and support the foreign-born population in central Iowa. For more information, see the Global DSM: International Talent Strategy Recommendations report and Investing in the Foreign-born in Greater Des Moines: Maximizing Individual and Community Potential.
LSI has a decades-long legacy of supporting refugees and immigrants in Iowa, through resettlement and community-based services. The welcome center initiative is an exciting next step in helping to make Iowa a leader in inclusivity and empowerment.
If you have questions about the welcome center initiative, please contact Caryn Kelly at Caryn.Kelly@LSIowa.org or 515.204.1873.
While still in the early phases, here are a few things we want to share about the project:
The initial goals of the initiative are:
• To establish a centralized entry point for the foreign-born to access a robust and user-centered referral network of services.
• To provide a physical space where resources (such as legal assistance, citizenship, language learning, transportation, childcare, etc.), education, training, skill-building, wellness, and cultural programming are easily accessible.
• To engage longtime Iowans in the work and joy of welcoming and creating opportunities for multicultural learning and community-building.
• To collaborate with educators and employers to build capacity for long-term, sustainable career opportunities and growth for foreign-born talent.
This initiative will have its own physical space, name, and brand; however, that will occur only after extensive community conversations and input. It is critical that this center reflect a diverse chorus of voices, needs, perspectives, and dreams.
As we refine this vision with our community, we seek to gain a better understanding of how our partner organizations might offer information, services, and/or resources in this multicultural hub. We would also like to gauge your organization’s interest in the opportunity to physically co-locate in this center.
Your answers to this survey will help our team better define the space needed for this important endeavor, create a menu of services, and develop our tools and strategies for supporting providers to successfully serve foreign-born clients.
LSI is a member of Welcoming America, which guides our work in creating a more welcoming Iowa. Welcoming America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs. Welcoming America – and LSI – believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to the success of our communities and shared future.