Accessible ELL Program

Iowa International Center’s Accessible ELL Program provides English language instruction to 100 students in the Greater Des Moines community. The program seeks to remove or minimize barriers faced by adult English language learners (ELLs) by offering classes where people already gather or have familiarity, such as apartment complexes or churches. Our goal? Give ELLs the support they need to improve their English language skills and their confidence, ultimately leading to increased community involvement and economic success.

Accessible Adult ELL classes are currently offered at Deer Ridge Apartments, Windfield West Apartments,  Waukee Public Library  and Nisaa African Family Services:

Deer Ridge Apartments: Mondays and Wednesdays at 1:30 – 3:00 pm

Windfield West Apartments: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 – 7:00 pm

Waukee Public Library, Conversation Class: 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at 10:00 – 11:00 am, 2nd and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 6:00 -7:00 pm.

Nisaa African Family Services*: Saturdays, starting on February 29, at 10:30 – 11:30 am
*this class is for women only 


Click here for a list of Accessible ELL class opportunities as well as those provided throughout the Greater Des Moines community by other non-profit organizations on WelcometoIowa.org

How can you help? The Iowa International Center is in need of  volunteers who are willing to teach, tutor, and support our ELL classes. Contact Marissa Bogue regarding interest: mbogue@iowainternationalcenter.org, or 515-282-8269 x14.

Accessible ELL Programs to refugees and immigrants in our community are possible through donations given to our Ray Sustainability Initiative for Multilingual Services, a endowment to maintain and grow educational opportunities and access to multilingual resources for new Iowans, with the vision of former Governor Ray.

Give in the spirit of the Ray Resource Initiative to support the Iowa International Center and
welcome new Iowans into your community

Donate Today!


History and Additional Information

When Iowans first welcomed refugees in the 1970’s, Governor Ray set up a task force to identify jobs and sponsors. Over 30 Iowa communities responded. Thousands of volunteers provided support, staffing programs in churches, schools, and service agencies to teach English and life skills.

This model has disappeared, along with other critical supports. The medical and cash assistance in 1978 covered three years of support. Today, rent assistance covers only 90 days. Think about it: how can a refugee from Nepal, Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Iraq or any other country be able to find a job, housing, transportation, learn English and adapt to a completely new culture in 90 days? How can families succeed in this new environment?

The Iowa International Center is responding by bringing the resources refugees need to accessible locations around Des Moines. We are continuing to forge relationships and opportunities with other local cultural organizations to expand the reach of this effective program. Check out WHO TV 13’s story about how our Accessible ESL classes continue to bring hope and opportunity to refugees in Des Moines. 




We are a ProLiteracy member organization.

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