Programs and Services
NOTES: Major service categories that SCAO has offered over the years are outlined below under Planning & Support, Translation and Interpretation, Legal Advocacy, Youth Programs, Elder Programs, English Second Language Workshops (ESL), and Job Assistance. Contact us for personal assistance and information about current offerings.
SCAO services include:
• Educational opportunities for adults and children
• Immigration and citizenship programs
• Housing availability and affordability guidance
• English Second Language (ESL) classes
• Employment and job training
• Daycare programs
• Youth development and summer programs
• Senior Citizen services
• Interpretation and Translation Services
• Public safety awareness programs
• Community advocacy
• Case management
• An open access computer lab available to the community at no charge
Planning and Support
Trained multi-lingual immigrant SCAO staff members help you set goals, design a plan to achieve those goals, and help you along the way.
Police and courts
Justice at Work programs
Professional certification upgrades
Other concerns unique to the person
Social and cultural support
Support for battered women
Food & Health
After school referral and education
How to start or expand a business
SCAO has a case manager on site for all clients to ensure information is recorded, filed and kept confidential. Cases vary between our legal, housing and employment services. Case managers coordinate with families in need to provide one point of contact to facilitate successful resolution to problem(s) and/or to link to services sought by the person or family. Connections are made to SCAO and other nonprofit agency programs. Examples include ESL courses, referral to medical services (facilitate appointments), social service referrals, youth enrollment in school and after school programs, housing referrals and assistance, legal aid referrals and more.
Translation and Interpretation
Trained multi-lingual immigrant SCAO staff members assist many clients each day with translation of important documents for health and legal situations. This critical service is available on a call or walk-in basis at the center and at city health clinics.
SCAO contracts with the Columbus Department of Health to provide interpretation services to Somali and other immigrant communities seeking medical services at department clinics. The goal we share with the Department of Health and City of Columbus is to make Columbus the healthiest city in America.
Many legal procedures are required to become a U.S. citizen. We assist many clients with this process, especially those who want to transition from refugee to U.S. citizen.
We also work to ensure the legal rights of our clients are being upheld while residing in the Columbus area, especially when intervention is required due to language and cultural barriers, and in cases of unfair housing practices, allegations of corruption, misunderstandings or eviction.
Social & Personal Needs
Adult mentoring program
Weekday hot meals
Open access computer lab
After school and Saturday tutoring
Special assistance for older, previously unschooled youth
SCAO offers a strong set of programs for our youth because they are the future. It is very important to teach immigrants and especially refugee children the tools they need to integrate into American society. We seek to provide youth with positive American values, while emphasizing the importance of retaining their identity as they integrate. Our programs help create financial independence, a safe haven and positive role models. We strive to help youth increase their self-determination and confidence, while helping students overcome language, cultural, and psychological barriers that may hinder their success in academics. Youth programs include:
The SCAO Afterschool Program: Operating in partnership with Franklin County Job and Family Services since 2004, this program helps 100 youth annually. The program was founded in response to the low academic level of many Somali youth in the Columbus area. The program runs from October through May, four days a week in the afternoon. The classes focus on English proficiency, reading, writing, math and basic computer skills. Youth needing help with homework receive assistance during these sessions as well.
Iska Jir Program: Iska jir means do good or watch out! It is an outreach program designed to assist Somali youths between the ages of twelve and twenty. Intervention activities include information dissemination, youth activities and events, and other interventions and supervision to prevent criminal behavior, gun ownership and gang membership.
Summer Food Program: This program delivers breakfasts and lunches to hundreds of low-income youth who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. Throughout the summer months, SCAO provides meals to the most needy youths in Central Ohio.
Summer Youth Employment Program: This annual program helps teens find jobs through support from the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation (COWIC) and the Ohio Department of Education.
SCAO Youth Soccer: Every summer SCAO encourages multicultural friendships with integrated soccer teams, which help students of different backgrounds learn to work together as a team while staying fit and healthy.
Programs for Somali community elders are tailored to the individual, and may include:
Upgrades to professional certifications
Current events discussion groups
Food And Health
Health education and referral services
Refugees may qualify for special Social Security Income (SSI) as they work toward U.S. citizenship. Those who do not attain citizenship within 7 years risk losing their SSI benefits including medical coverage. Senior citizens often face special challenges and a higher risk of losing health care. SCAO offers support to seniors who find it difficult to learn a new language, culture and history; all requirements for citizenship.
English Second Language (ESL)
The SCAO works hand in hand with Franklin County Job and Family Services and the city of Columbus to provide language instruction for the Somali community.
ESL, Vocational and Family Literacy
Basic English workshops
ESL classes for adults and elders
After school and Saturday morning tutoring
The SCAO provides training space for ESL classes consisting of eight week sessions for Basic English. The space can accommodate up to 100 adult students at any given time.
The ESL program has been in existence since 2000, and has helped many hundreds of immigrants and refugees learn the English language. In these classes, reading and writing is taught as well as oral communication. Students learn grammar and vocabulary as well as how to apply it within an American context. Through these classes students not only learn English, but also learn about American culture.
Trained multi-lingual immigrant SCAO staff members help clients prepare for their job search, assist with job placement, and offer support for challenges on the job.
Jobs & Work Skills
Job referrals and placement
Job retention and coaching
Problem and conflict resolution
Acculturation and cultural issues in the workplace
How to start or expand a business
Transportation to interviews
Assistance with professional certifications upgrades
Other services unique to the person
Many Somalis have trouble finding work due to cultural and language barriers. In response we have offered classes focused on job search techniques, basic computer skills, resume writing and proper interview etiquette to improve the chances of securing a job. We also strive to educate and encourage community members to create more jobs through small business.
We believe that entrepreneurship will not only increase the spending power of the Somali community, but also create jobs in Columbus and improve the local economy. We believe that through job training seminars and vocational training in areas such as business and healthcare, Somalis can give back to the community while they work to attain the American dream.
The Somali Community Association of Ohio provides assistance to the refugee and immigrant communities with housing difficulties. We teamed up with Impact Community Action to help families that needed rent assistance and were facing eviction. We assist many families with services such as interpretation, mediation, and referrals, among other things. Clients come to SCAO for help on a daily basis, whether it's with lack of maintenance, cheap housing, or evictions. We also collaborate with Legal Aid and Columbus Code Enforcement to help families who are experiencing discrimination in the housing market.