MA Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition ESOL
Across Massachusetts there are approximately 16,000 immigrants who have put their names on waiting lists for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes funded by the MA Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education. In communities with large immigrant populations, ESOL program wait lists can run as long 400 people, and individuals may wait up to two years to enter a class. While daunting, these figures do not even begin to represent the actual need: Some 186,000 immigrants statewide speak English "not well," or "not at all." For a FACT SHEET on Adult Basic Education and ESOL click here.
While Massachusetts may always have newcomers struggling to speak English, we can become better able to respond to the needs of tens of thousands of immigrant parents, workers and community members who remain isolated and unable to obtain family-sustaining jobs, U.S. citizenship and full civic participation.
English for New Bostonians
To help address this tremendous need, MIRA works at several levels. First, MIRA is a partner and home to English for New Bostonians (ENB). ENB is an exciting public-private community partnership launched in 2001 by the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians and now supported by the City of Boston and 16 private funders. Through grantmaking, capacity-building, and public outreach and education, ENB has increased the number of ESOL seats available, improved program quality in agencies across Boston, and helped leverage new private and public resources. ENB programs serve 1,000 - 1,200 low-income Boston immigrants annually, with a focus on underserved linguistic and geographic communities, and specifically, immigrants who work in low-wage jobs, are parents, and are on an ESOL waiting list. To learn more about English for New Bostonians click here.
English Works Campaign
At the state level, MIRA leads the English Works Campaign, a unique coalition of immigrant community leaders, labor unions, business and civic leaders, educators, and advocates across Massachusetts working toward a Commonwealth that provides all residents with a pathway to economic self-sufficiency; ensures a stable, skilled workforce for businesses; and integrates immigrants into the fabric of our economy, communities and shared civic life.
English Works recognizes the key role and contributions of immigrants to the Commonwealth. The campaign targets English proficiency as a critical tool for achieving economic success for immigrants and an essential ingredient to the growth and flexibility of our rapidly changing economy.
The English Works Campaign calls upon business, labor, community and government leaders to dedicate the needed public and private resources to create a sustainable, high-quality ESOL system that addresses the needs and interests of immigrant workers and their employers. Over 72 organizations have signed on to the Campaign, joining a powerful leadership circle, and Mayor's Circle.
The English Works Campaign is led statewide by MIRA and in Boston by English for New Bostonians. New Bedford also has a regional Leadership Circle and campaign. To learn more about English Works, its leadership, policy and organizing agenda, and capacity-building resources, click here.