Monday, Nov 2, 2015
The Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Inc. has received a $32,000 grant from Wells Fargo to increase the number of English-language classes to help reduce a waiting list. With the grant, GLCAC will be able educate 160 mostly immigrants each year, starting them on the path toward the language fluency important for job training and readiness.
“With demand far exceeding supply, we will use this generous grant from Wells Fargo to increase the number of students in GLCAC classes so that we can assist our clients on their path to financial self-sufficiency,” said Evelyn Friedman, Executive Director of GLCAC. “The classes are an essential first educational step for many immigrants to obtain skills need to move past socio-economic barriers to success and to adjust to living in a new country and new culture.”
The grant will allow GLCAC to max out its available classes, serving an additional 35 seat this year over last year’s 125 spots. Even with the grant, GLCAC expects there to be a waiting list. A 2014 GLCAC Community Needs Assessment indicated that the top priority for GLCAC clients is English language and literacy skills.
Across the City of Lawrence, 1,080 seats are available in ESOL classes, but regularly, more than 550 people are on waiting lists, according to a study done by the Lawrence ESOL Network, a private-public sector collaboration of GLCAC and other providers working to address the gaps in ESOL education.
U.S. Census data supports that low levels of education are significant issues for residents. According to census data for Lawrence:
- Almost 20 percent of residents have less than a 9th grade education.
- 17 percent have less than a high school education.
- 73 percent speak a language other than English at home.
- Almost 40 percent speak English less than very well.
GLCAC is a social services agency that annually assists 29,000 individuals in Greater Lawrence. GLCAC’s wide range of services – from heating assistance to daycare – focus on lifting families out of poverty and setting them on a pathway to economic stability. GLCAC is a proud partner of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Merrimack Valley.