Iowa Department of Human Rights Newsletter

iowa department of human rights

April 16, 2021

The Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR) brings strength to Iowa's rich heritage.  Our three divisions - Community Action Agencies, Community Advocacy and Services, and Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning - work to reduce cultural, social, and economic barriers to opportunities for Iowans to succeed.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sessions, Including Spanish

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and University of Iowa, announced their collaboration to host information sessions about the COVID-19 vaccine later this month. The sessions will provide a virtual forum for Iowans to learn about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and have an opportunity to ask questions of medical experts.

Sessions are scheduled for April 17, 19 and 24. The April 24 session is targeted to Spanish speaking Iowans and will include an interpreter. Each one-hour session will feature an overview from medical experts, followed by a moderated question and answer segment to encourage a dialogue.

There is no fee or registration required and the sessions are open to all. Participants can join a session by visiting, where they will link to the WebEx online meeting platform.

Full details and links to each session can be found here:

24 de abril: sesión informativa en español sobre la vacuna contra la COVID-19

Expertos del Departamento de Salud Pública de Iowa y la Facultad de Salud Pública y el Instituto para la Ciencia Clínica y Traslacional (ICTS, por sus siglas en inglés) de la Universidad de Iowa hablarán y responderán a sus interrogantes acerca de la creación de la vacuna, su seguridad y eficacia, además de atender preguntas en torno a qué significará la vacunación para usted y sus seres queridos.

La sesión informativa sobre la vacuna contra la COVID-19 comenzará a las 10:00am.

En esta sesión en Webex, dos presentadores hablarán en inglés y uno en español. Si usted es bilingüe, haga clic en Acompáñenos para ingresar a la reunión en Webex. 

Si desea ver toda la sesión en español, vaya a:

Si necesita asistencia técnica, llame al 515-294-1725.

HHS Public Education Campaign

We Can Do This

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched the "We Can Do This" campaign, a national initiative  to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and increase confidence in the vaccines.  The campaign helps the public make informed decisions about their health and COVID-19, including steps to protect themselves and their communities. 

Resources and education materials are available in print, ads, audio, video, and other forms of outreach for various audiences and languages. 

Learn more at  

Beware of Fake Post-Vaccine Survey Scams

The U.S. Department of Justice has received reports that fraudsters are creating fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine surveys for consumers to fill out with the promise of a prize or cash at the conclusion of the survey. In reality, the surveys are used to steal money from consumers and unlawfully capture consumers’ personal information.

Consumers receive the surveys via email and text message, and are told that, as a gift for filling out the survey, they can choose from various free prizes, such as an iPad Pro. The messages claim that the consumers need only pay shipping and handling fees to receive their prize. Victims provide their credit card information and are charged for shipping and handling fees, but never receive the promised prize. Victims also are exposing their personally identifiable information (PII) to scammers, thereby increasing the probability of identity theft.

Unless from a known and verified source, consumers should never click on links in text messages or emails claiming to be a vaccine survey.  

Read more about scams, how to protect yourself, and how to report it. 

Black and Brown Business Summit-April 22-23, 2021

Changing the Culture for Minority Entrepreneurs in Iowa

The Iowa statewide Black & Brown Business Summit was created to elevate ethnic minorities and bring BIPOC businesses together to assist with connections building, programming, promotion, training and resources to help their businesses grow and prosper. The first annual Black & Brown Business Summit will bring from entrepreneurs to seasoned companies together in a hybrid setting at Athene in West Des Moines and includes a pitch competition, breakout sessions led by top experts, Mel Essex Award, inspirational keynote speaker and more. Our goal is to help advance Iowa’s minority business community and position our state as the best place in the nation to start and lead a minority business. 

Several key stakeholders in the region are involved in making this important programming a reality, including the Iowa Economic Development Authority. For more information, contact the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce at 515.689.4447 or 

April is National Fair Housing Month

Iowa Legal Aid Fair Housing Resources

Iowa Legal Aid is providing free lunch hour webinars on fair housing topics on Fridays in April.  These webinars will explain important housing protections for immigrant and minority communities, victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, families with children, and victims of COVID-19 discrimination among other housing protections. 

Iowa Legal Aid and its partners have translated information on housing issues.  Fair Housing for Victims of COVID (English and Spanish ) flyer and Fair Housing Project brochures (English/Vietnamese/Swahili/French/Arabic/Bosnian/Burmese) are available.     

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Iowa Civil Rights Commission Fair Housing Educational Brochures and Videos 

In a partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Rights, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), a federal housing assistance program agency, whose mission is to end discrimination in Iowa through enforcement of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, produced fair housing education and outreach materials in languages predominantly spoken and read by refugees in Iowa. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

The US Housing and Urban Development Department awarded ICRC $48,682 to partner with the Iowa Department of Human Rights, EMBARC, and the Genesis Youth Foundation to produce COVID-19-related fair housing information to Iowa’s refugee communities adversely affected by the virus.

The partnership produced ten educational videos featuring refugees sharing their experiences in their own words: Arabic, English, French, Hakha Chin, Karen, Karenni, Kinyarwanda, Krahn, Kunama, and Swahili. Ten translated fair housing brochures are now available in Arabic, Burmese, Hakha Chin, Karen, Karenni, Kinyarwanda, Kunama, French, Somali, and Swahili. The videos were created to educate immigrants and refugees in Iowa on what housing discrimination looks like. This is especially timely because these populations face increased discrimination by landlords because of the misconception that they are more susceptible to COVID-19 due to their race and national origin. All videos and brochures may be accessed on ICRC’s website: 

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Those experiencing homelessness can get Economic Impact Payments and other tax benefits; permanent address not required

The Internal Revenue Service continues an ongoing effort to help those experiencing homelessness during the pandemic by reminding people who don't have a permanent address or a bank account that they may still qualify for Economic Impact Payments and other tax benefits.

While Economic Impact Payments continue to be made automatically to most people, the IRS can't issue a payment to eligible Americans when information about them isn't available in the tax agency's systems.

To help people experiencing homelessness, the rural poor and other historically under-served groups, the IRS urges community groups, employers and others to share information about Economic Impact Payments and help more eligible people file a tax return so they can receive everything they're entitled to. has a variety of information and tools to help people receive the Economic Impact Payments.

Read more (IRS website)...   English     Spanish 

USDA Extends Meal Flexibilities Through Summer 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the nationwide extension of several waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through September 30, 2021, or the start of the school year. The waivers were previously extended only through June 30. 

The extended waivers allow:

  • Meal sites to serve all children for free, regardless of income;
  • Meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and meal times,  and
  • Parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children. including bulk pick-up to include multiple days of meals.

Summer meal sites are places where children and youth age 18 and under can receive meals at no cost in a safe environment. The meals are also available to persons over age 18 with mental or physical disabilities. Sites may be located in a variety of settings including schools, parks, community centers, libraries, churches and more.

Mission: Employable 

Mission: Employable is a weekly podcast focused on workforce-related topics in Iowa. It will feature conversations with subject matter experts about the wide variety of  programs and services offered by our agency and partner organizations. It is also a chance to  speak with Iowans about innovative solutions for building a skilled workforce. The podcast will have something for everyone, whether you are an employer looking to expand your workforce, or a job seeker interested in a high-demand job. 

Tune in every Tuesday for the latest episode.  Hosted by Ryan West, Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director. Produced by the Iowa Workforce Development Communications Bureau.

DHR Youth in Action

Youth Action Hour

DHR Youth to Participate in "Young People Address the Nation"

On Friday, April 30, 2021, Youth Action Hour is hosting a "Young People Address the Nation" youth-led virtual event in alignment with President Biden's 100th Day in Office. This event will center around the priorities of young people in America right now.

James Piazza, State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council (SIYAC), Human Rights Committee member and primary author of SIYAC's Automatic Voter Registration position statement, is representing Iowa during the 100 Day Youth Address (replication of the State of the Union Address), talking about the barriers to youth voting and how national and local leaders could address it.

Lyric Sellers and Endi Montalvo-Martínez are hosting a pre-show breakout room educating students around the country on how they can Disrupt Racism in Schools. They will talk through the process they took to remove School Resource Officers from Des Moines Public School District and how they initiated and are championing the curriculum changes that will be implemented next year.

Several  members of Iowa Youth Congress, State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council, and Youth Action Squads also applied to contribute art to the event.

Applications Open for State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council and Iowa Youth Congress

The Iowa Department of Human Rights is accepting applications through June 4, 2021, from young people to participate in the State of Iowa Youth Advisory Council and Iowa Youth Congress.  Learn more about the programs and how to join:  Youth Advocates Needed in State Government.

COVID-19 Language Resources

American Sign Language Videos-CDC

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-Resources for Limited English Proficient Populations

Congolese Health Partnership Videos

Coronavirus, State Website

Crescent Community Health Center-Marshallese Language

EMBARC Ethnic Minorities of Burma and Advocacy and Resource Center

Hawaii Office of Language Access-Youtube

Iowa Department of Human Rights-Language Access

Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa Spanish Helpline 515-344-3936 

Multi-Lingual Hotline  1-877-558-2609

Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa  

Test Iowa-Free COVID-19 Testing (Spanish available)

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Iowa Department of Human Rights
Lucas State Office Building
321 E 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-242-5640 or 1-800-351-4659
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