Literacy Green Bay

When taking a look back, the problem that these new Americans face, according to the statistics shown, is they are not getting the proper education needed. Whether that is due to dropping out of school, bad teaching habits, or just not getting the right education from their homeland, it is very apparent that something has to be changed. One thing pointed out was the fact that the teachers had to have a really good understanding of how to teach new Americans the curriculum in a way that would be understood. However, this cannot necessarily be the full answer to the problem because every teacher has a different teaching style and approach in the classroom. When these students are having a difficult time in school, they resort to dropping out. Even after dropping out, they still need to have ways to get properly educated for life outside of the classroom, especially if they need to learn English. 

There are many organizations across the U.S. that offer their services to new Americans. Although it would be helpful to anyone reading this that a few top organizations get highlighted, but that is too much of a broad scope. The main focus will be on an organization in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The name of the organization is Literacy Green Bay. Now keep in mind, many of these learning centers are nonprofit, and of the many to choose from, Literacy Green Bay was on of the top rated organizations of 2015.

Obviously when looking at these places, you want to focus on their mission statement. The reason for this is because not every place is the same and each place has their own focus and goals of how to help new Americans. With Literacy Green Bay, their mission statement is what grabs your attention, along with the fact that they were a top rated organization in 2015. Their mission is to help adults and families acquire the reading, writing, math, English language, computer, and workforce skills they need to be fully functioning community members.

Their mission statement is enough to grab someone’s attention and from here is where you will see what the focus is as far as demographics go. Target demographics are vital because you need to have a clear understanding of whom you are trying to help out specifically. The organization’s target demographics focus on adults, aged 16 and higher, who have low literacy skills, are undereducated or need a high school credential, and have limited proficiency in English along with their immediate families.

Each organization has programs in place to help new Americans. Literacy Green Bay has an array of programs setup for the educational needs of adults and their families. They offer one-on-one tutoring and English language learner classes. Moreover, they have the Children First Family Literacy program, which are GED classes. There are also citizenship and computer assisted and skills instruction for adult learners, while their children receive child tutoring and early childhood instruction.

What is astonishing about Literacy Green Bay is that they have such a rich history. They have been up and running for over 30 years. In 1980, the first tutor training workshop was conducted to train tutors to teach English as a second language in response to the newly arriving Southeast Asian refugees. Following in 1981, a small group of people formed the Literacy Council of Brown County and in 1983 the first workshop was held to train tutors to teach basic literacy skills. As mentioned previously, many of these organizations are nonprofit, but not everyone involved will be a volunteer. They were volunteer led until the spring of 1988. The first two staff members hired were Evie Jensen, who became the office manager, and Tori Radar, who was hired as the executive director.

During 1991, the organization established an endowment fund. For those not familiar with that term, an endowment fund is an investment fund set up by an institution in which regular withdrawals from the invested capital are used for ongoing operations or other specified purposes. These types of funds are typically used for nonprofit organizations. Additionally, they are funded by donations, which are tax deductible for donors. Moreover, in 1991, as the program began to grow, they hired their first program coordinator to oversee the tutoring program.

Literacy Green Bay has a plethora of programs that will help educate new Americans. When the waiting list for a tutor increased, their English Language learner classes came to fruition. There are essentially four different levels of classes offered. Pre-level one, level one, level two, and level three. These classes are held twice a week for two hours. Learners take speaking and writing tests to determine which English class is best for them and get placed accordingly.

They do have one program that stands out and is unique to their organization. They offer the Children First Family Literacy program, which is the only family literacy program of its kind in the area. This program aims to educate the entire family. There are four aspects within the program; adult education and GED preparation, early childhood education, family empowerment, and parent and child together (PACT) activities. In this program, while the parents are attending class to obtain their GED, their children are in Early Childhood classes. They even offer child tutoring for the children of their adult learners.

With their citizenship classes, they offer tutoring and mock citizenship interviews. Moreover, first through fifth grade children of adult learners can get tutoring. Interesting to note, they initially started out as strictly an adult tutoring program and built their program from there according to the organization’s program specialist, Betsy Hanson.

To expand on their tutoring program, adult learners work one-on-one with a volunteer tutor. These tutors go through a rigorous 12 hour ProLiteracy Tutor Training workshop before they are matched. Per Hanson, “The majority of our learners in the tutoring program are level two or higher,” and she continued “The tutor and the learner make their own schedule based on what time works well for the two of them.” The organization supplies the curriculum that is to be taught and other materials. In addition to immigrants who want to improve their English skills, they get native English speakers who did not do so well in school and want to improve on their reading and writing skills.

Literacy Green Bay serves over 600 individuals a year. Additionally, most of their students and volunteers hear about the organization through word of mouth. This was one of the top organizations, however there are plenty more around the entire country. New Americans just have to utilize and take advantage of these learning centers so they can thrive in their new home.

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