East African Women’s Center: Augsburg College’s Presidents’ Community Partner Award Recipient

The Confederation of the Somali Community in Minnesota (CSCM), an established nonprofit serving primarily Somalis over the past 16 years, opened the East African Women’s Center in 2004. The Women’s Center’s mission is to support refugee women to successfully integrate into American life at the same time as they preserve their cultural traditions and values.

Starting with sewing classes in 2005, the Center added an early learning/childcare room in 2006 so children would be engaged in child development activities while their mothers attended ESL classes provided by the Cedar Riverside Adult Education Collaborative (CRAEC). In 2007, the Center added “5th Day/Living in America,” a series of sessions focusing on early childhood development and parenting across cultures. By 2008, the Center hired an ESL teacher for a “women’s only” transitions/ ESL class and Child Development Associate certification program. This demanding curriculum teaches refugee women about early childhood development at the same time as it is preparing them for living wage jobs.

Augsburg College was one of the earliest partners of the East African Women’s Center and the relationship has continued to grow. Starting with a few students 6 years ago, Augsburg and the Center have worked jointly on multiple endeavors including:
-an art exhibit of East African weaving
-a kitchen shower
-fund raising efforts
-early childhood opportunities
-a VISTA volunteer
-a girl’s groups
-an advisory council
-City Service Projects
-Many service-learning students from courses

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