Transition and Oakridge Family LIteracy Initiative

Transition and Oakridge Family LIteracy Initiative

NLD ID #88880
Transition and Oakridge Family LIteracy Initiative logo

Contact Information

1401 Center Street
Des Moines, IA 50314

Primary Contact

Teree Caldwell-Johnson

(515) 244-7702 Ext:118

Hours of Operation

8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Get Directions

Program Overview

Since 1969, Oakridge has worked at the intersection of
community and opportunity. Over this nearly 45 year period Oakridge has served Des Moines' most vulnerable residents by providing safe, affordable housing and
wrap around services to create opportunities for individual and family success.
The services provided help to realize Oakridge Neighborhood's mission of providing a neighborhood with safe, secure housing, programs and services to build and develop the strengths of children, adults and families, thus moving them
toward sustained self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

The Oakridge campus has 339 housing units, which
houses over 1000 residents. Unique in Des Moines and the state of Iowa, the Oakridge model of service delivery is enriched by combining project based Section 8 housing with wrap around supportive services for the individuals and
families we serve. Our service delivery model and affordable housing combined with a culturally competent and diverse staff provides the necessary ingredients to serve the needs of a highly diverse, high poverty population.

In addition to deep subsidy housing The Oakridge organization offers the following programs and services:

1. Oak Academy – Quality early learning and pre-school experiences for children ages 6 weeks – Pre-K

2. Project OASIS and BE REAL Academy – Academically based out of school and after school programming for youth grades

3. Transitions – Adult and family programming with a focus on workforce readiness, ELL, HI Set and citizenship

Transitions is designed to meet the barriers to employment faced by refugees and other hard to place clients served through its Adult and Family Program. Transitions, is a "high
touch" service delivery model that is culturally competent and language specific. It combines job training and placement programs with case management support. The single largest component of the Transitions program is the English Language Acquisition program focused on the provision of language acquisition classes and support for refugees.

The Oakridge Family Literacy Initiative (OFLI) is designed to create a system of literacy interventions and supports,
creating an environment and community structure that strengthens individual learning skills and inspires educational success within the family unit. Designed to be
learning that lifts the entire family, OFLI is a comprehensive
family literacy program that serves entire family by including:

  • Adult Literacy Education
  • Child Literacy Education
  • Parenting Education
  • Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time

Cost Info

All programs and services provided by the Oakridge Adult and Family programs including Transitions and the Oakridge Family Literacy Initiative are provided free of charge. Our ability to provide no cost quality programming is attributed to the support of generous donors, both individual and foundation.

Student and Volunteer Success Stories

Success Story

In attempting to identify a success story that would capture
the range and comprehensive nature of the Transitions program the staff sought out a client named Sadiya. At first she
was reluctant to share her story but after a little prodding and a bit more explanation about how it would be used, she willingly agreed. She provided us with a written description of
her "journey" and after reading what she wrote (and doing some minor touch-ups) we found it to be so compelling that we chose to submit it as a testament to her success and the impact of our collective work. As you read Sadiya's story please remember
that she has only been in this country for a little more than 5 years and could speak no English when she arrived.

Home, Hope and Courage: My Journey with Oakridge

My name is Sadiya A. I'm a single mom and a mother of eight children – ages: between six to nineteen year old. I'm a Permanent Resident - meaning I can work and live
in the United States perminently. I left my home country Somalia along with my parents and children in 2000, running from the ongoing Somali Civil War which began in 1991. After leaving Somalia, my family resided in a refugee camp in Nairobi, Kenya. Then I managed to travel to U.A.E then to Turkey where I gave birth to my youngest son—Faysal. We lived in Turkey for two years then we were admitted as refugee by the United States Government.

After a long trip from Turkey, my son and I landed at the
Des Moines Airport on September 11, 2008. We came as refugees with fifty dollars in our pocket; hopping for security,
better living conditions, and a new beginning in our new country—America. Eight month from my arrival to Des Moines, I moved to Oakridge Neighborhood. There I felt like home. I met people with similar background and aspirations.

To this date, the staff of adult and family services has
been really supportive. They continue to
inspire me to do more with my life. My case manager—Mr. Abdalla has been like a family to me. He picked me up when I was hapless and discouraged. He pushed me when I needed
a push. He helped me with building my self-steam and helped me to believe that I can do anything that I want if I
strive for it. Now, I am more confident than anytime in my life. I was able to do things that I never thought I would do.

He introduce me to various programs and services offered at
Oakridge Neighborhood and in the community. Mr. Abdalla worked with me on developing action plan for myself and directed me through accomplishing its goals.

Tacling Barriers:

Childcare was one of my biggest problems. I didn't no what to do until my case manager told me about Oakridge's Early Enrichment Childcare Center (EECCC). I was
skeptical about the idea at first because of some rumors circling in my community that local daycare centers don't care much about feeding your child kosher food; instead they feed children with bad ideas. They will teach your
child to go against you, and he wouldn't listen to you anymore. That is where the DHS may get involved, and you know what could happen next!

But my case manager told me otherwise and brought my
attention to the big picture. He told me preschool is foundation and it's most important step for your child if you would like to see him holding a college degree one day. He told me that
Oakridge Early Enrichment Childcare Center (EECCC) is one of best because of its diversity. He added that they even
have Somali, Iraqi, and Sudanese instructors - among others working at the Center. I trusted him and I was
convinced by what he told me. Then he helped me with the paperwork and completing the application form. I put
him as my emergency contact person, and he never disappointed me.

Enrolling my child at the EECCC was one of the best things I
ever done for my son. Prior to attending the EECCC my son spoke no English, was too shy to speak and interact with other people. He was completely depended on me on everything. He was inactive and spent most of his time sitting at home with a non English speaking elder who provided care for him while I was gone to school or work.

After graduating from the EECCC, my son was able to read and
write simple words. He was do most of the things that I used to do for him. He was able to express feeling and need clearly. He made many knew friends. The EECCC gave my son all the tools he needed to be good in school. Now, my son is in first grade, and he is doing far greater than most children in my community; especially the children of those
believed that ill rumor.


After leaving my job with Pitney Bowes, I worked for
'Optimae' for about eight months, but I had to cease my employment there. Prior to terminating my employment, the
management hadn't made any ways to help my situation, after my repeated requests. Anyway, it was a part time and
with unregular working schedule. I couldn't find anyone to care of my six year old child because I never even new what was my own working schedule. Mr. Abdalla told me not to worry and ask me to go back school and stay looking for employment. He promised me that he would help me find a
better job opportunity.

He did! He did assist me with finding my dream job—childcare.
I always wanted to work with children. I apply for this childcare position with Oakridge Early Enrichment Childcare enter—where my son went for preschool. Now, I care and teach little children the same way my colleague did for son when he attended the EECCC. Isn't that awesome!


I completed four ELL levels through Transitions, and I have
one level left to start taking advanced English and credit courses. I am interested in pursuing a degree in the field of Early Childhood Education. Mr. Abdalla provided me with keyboarding
software to practice typing at home. Also, he showed me how to surf the internet, compose emails, and do online banking.

Citizenship: I have been taking citizenship classes at Oakridge
Neighborhood – taught by Mr. Abdalla.
The classes help with learning Basic English, civics, American History, state and local governments which are the main subjects of the Naturalization/Citizenship Test. Mr.
Abdalla has a pleasant way of teaching these classes. Already six of the seventeen people who took to class passed the test. They encouraged me to continue with attending
these classes. Not only that, but Mr.Abdalla also helps his students apply for their citizenship at no cost to
them. It usually costs $680.00 perperson.

I have gone so far, and I am hopeful about the future
because the good people of Oakridge Neighborhood have taught me to look forward, not to give up, and pursue my dreams no matter what odds are.

This program listing was last updated: September 17, 2023.

All information has been provided by this organization. Do you see outdated information? Please contact NLD Support.

Education services

  • Read and write better
  • Learn English

Instruction Type

  • In-person