Skip to Content (Press Enter)

Speakers of Other Languages Program funded by Blue & You Foundation

Reprinted with permission from Arkansas Money and Politics, May 31, 2024

Empowering Adult Speakers of Other Languages

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas (GIA) and Goodwill Arkansas Education Initiatives Inc. received a $50,000 grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. The organization plans to use the funding to support a new program titled, “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: Empowering English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Learners for Success.” The program was started by Goodwill in Little Rock at The Excel Center adult high school in September of last year. The funding will allow them to expand the program to the new Excel Center in Springdale, which opened last July.

The aim of the program is to assist non-English-speaking people in the community, encouraging them to enroll in The Excel Center to earn their high school diploma at no cost.

“Early last year, we recognized a need within our communities for adult English classes and we began offering free courses in the evening,” Educational Director of The Excel Center, Ashely McDonald, said in the release. “However, we had no idea how extreme the need was and the impact it would have on families. This generous grant from the Blue & You Foundation will allow us to expand the work of The Excel Center to offer our services to even more individuals to learn conversational English. Some of these students have even enrolled in our adult high school to earn their high school diploma as a result of improving their English skills. This grant really helps put our mission, changing lives through education, training and employment, into action.”

Goodwill staff have worked with many individuals who have a level of English listening skills but minimal ability to speak and write in the language. According to a press release by the company, the problem impacts the education, financial stability or health of the non-English-speaking population because they cannot communicate effectively in their new country.

The ESOL program looks to address the needs of individuals and families by providing free classes along with free on-site child care to help students focus on advancing their English skills. Classes are held after regular class time at The Excel Center to allow services to be provided to those whose native language is not English.

Share this story