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EMBARC Receives National Enterprise Certification


EMBARC Receives National Service Enterprise Certification

January 15, 2020

Kaira Carter, EMBARC

Betsy Shelton, Volunteer Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa – EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center) was recently recognized as a certified Service Enterprise Initiative organization. A Service Enterprise organization fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to successfully deliver on its social mission. Less than 15 percent of organizations nationwide can be characterized as Service Enterprises. 

Refugee families need more support as they transition to their new lives as Iowans. Finding a job, enrolling in school, accessing proper healthcare, and understanding existing resources can become insurmountable challenges due to language and cultural barriers. EMBARC’s volunteer-led Refugee Access Center is a lifeline that refugee families can count on to get connected with vital resources to lead a healthy self-sufficient life. Service Enterprise provided invaluable coaching and guidance so that EMBARC was able to increase its capacity and quality of services at the Access Center by leveraging skilled volunteers and effective volunteer policies to serve more than 1600 refugees in 2019.

EMBARC staff, board members, and volunteers participated in the research-based assessment, training, and consulting. Service Enterprise certification attributed to EMBARC’s success in leveraging the skills and expertise of volunteers at all levels. The designation, which is awarded by Points of Light, strengthens the capacity of nonprofits to leverage the skill sets and talents of volunteers to address community needs.

“As a refugee-led grassroots organization, EMBARC has always relied on volunteers to provide critical services.  However, as the need for services grew, we quickly realized we needed more volunteer resources to sustain our organization. Service Enterprise gave EMBARC the opportunity to develop strategic systems and processes to not only recruit volunteers, but to leverage and integrate volunteers throughout the organization. The assessments, training, and coaching gave EMBARC the insight, tools, and support to build a volunteer infrastructure and culture that will allow EMBARC to expand services and increase impact within our refugee communities.” -- Henny Ohr, Executive Director

The initiative is currently delivered through Volunteer Iowa, part of a national network of Service Enterprise Hubs, which has certified more than 400 organizations across the country since 2012. EMBARC joins over 40 organizations across Iowa that have received the Service Enterprise certification.

To learn more about Service Enterprise visit Organizations and agencies that are interested in becoming a Service Enterprise can contact Michelle Raymer, Volunteer Iowa Program Officer, at or 515-348-6235.



EMBARC is Iowa’s first refugee-led, nonprofit service provider, founded by and for refugees with a mission to help refugees expand their world of possibilities through advocacy, education, and community development. EMBARC believes that true change can only come from within a community empowered to help themselves. EMBARC is a systems- integrated organization that serves as a bridge to all services through a signature peer-to-peer, train- the- trainer, “Navigator” framework. Navigator programs invest in diverse refugee leaders who learn vital information and skills to then share with peers while helping to remove barriers and build connections with the mainstream community.

About Volunteer Iowa
Volunteer Iowa and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information is available at

About Points of Light
Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages more than 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year – we put people at the center of change. For more information, go to