EMBARC believes education is the key to self-sufficiency. Since November 2012, EMBARC has been organizing community led, accessible tutoring projects for refugee youth and adults based on assessments and evaluations to produce measurable results.

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Project SPARK

Three educational programs in the summer of 2014 helped more than 55 students advance their academic and employability skills.   More than 20 volunteers and community members contributed to the success of these programs.

  • The elementary program for students in grades K – 6 provides individualized math tutoring focused on the Iowa Core Curriculum Standards.  94% of the 24 students that participated in this program increased their common core skills between pre and post tests.
  • A pre-algebra class for students transitioning from grades 8 to 9 was designed to prepare students for high school math by introducing algebra concepts and skills.  There was a 200% increase in scores on the post test!


EMBARC formed a new and innovative summer work readiness program for 20 young adults ages 16-21, from the ethnic communities of Burma, with additional language and skill training for their families. The youth are given on-site work experience with various employers, including the Community Fabric Project which will train female youth in entrepreneurship and marketing through sewing projects. The Community Fabric Project will empower and engage high school refugee girls through sewing.  Through the hands-on sewing class, students will develop their technical sewing skills, English and math competencies, and gain financial empowerment through the sales of their creations. Because EMBARC’s educational programs use a family-centered approach, family members of the work readiness program participants are encouraged to participate in parallel trainings and Adult English as a Second Language courses in an effort to increase their knowledge and self-sufficiency.  The EMBARC Youth Employment Program develops work readiness skills for the participating cohort while simultaneously supporting their families’ linguistic and financial understanding. 

The Youth Employment Program (funded by a grant from the Des Moines Area Community College) had a 90% graduation rate and 14 of these students obtained summer work placements!


Community Fabric Project

In collaboration with EMBARC and the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Youth Employment Program, Community Fabric is currently training 6 female youth, ages 16-21, in entrepreneurship and marketing through sewing projects.  The Community Fabric Project uses sewing to empower and engage Iowa’s refugee girls and women from Burma. Sewing is more than a technical skill, as it allows students to develop their English, math, and leadership skills in tandem. We will create sewing projects for ourselves, local organizations, and pieces to sell in the community. Sewing is a way that young people can be expressive and, at the same time, give back to their community.

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