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Organizations Hold Online Schooling Workshop For African Parents

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Nick Morrison
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Sam Gabriel, the co-founder and executive director of Genesis Youth Foundation, said he hopes this initiative will encourage Iowans "to really see this not just for the African, but also something that will really help the larger community."

As more students transition to online school during the pandemic, a group of African-led organizations are making sure parents know how to transition as well.

The project brings together four African-led organizations who are striving to make sure African immigrants and refugees are not left behind, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congolese Youth Collect, African Immigrants and Refugees Transition Services, Nisaa African Family Services and Genesis Youth Foundation plan on hosting multiple grant-funded workshops for the community, but the first one will be for parents.

Sam Gabriel, the executive director and co-founder of Genesis Youth Foundation, said African immigrants and refugees have always had problems keeping up with the U.S. school system, but COVID-19 made it worse.

"I think COVID is just now showing the reason why we should invest time and be more intentional about these different projects," Gabriel said.

The Genesis Youth Foundation focuses primarily on services for underserved African youth in Central Iowa. It has teamed up with the other organizations to help promote its overall message of empowering the African immigrant and refugee community.

"We have basically been working a lot with non African led organizations. Since we started as a nonprofit. This past year, we wanted to look inward to start to be more intentional, working with African organizations," Gabriel explained.

He said he admires the Latino and Asian communities who have set up workshops like these to help parents, and it’s about time to invest in African parents too.

"Although it is impacting many families, however, it's also impacting the immigrant refugee community in a very special way, because a lot of these parents are not educated," Gabriel said. "They don't all have the knowledge or even have the technology to even know what is going on within the school system to provide that support for their kid."

Gabriel knows this firsthand. His parents are both African immigrants who had to quickly learn how to make sure Gabriel succeeded in school. Although Gabriel said he is by no means an expert in the U.S. educational system, he thinks providing a resource for the African community from an African person, will help them with the transition.

"Basically, you learn more from people who have walked in the same path," Gabriel said.

The groups will also host seminars to empower youth leaders after the parent workshop. Gabriel said they are waiting to fill one position before hosting the in-depth workshop early next year.