Community for the people: refugees and immigrants in Lincoln to get free English classes, supported by several non-profits

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Moving to a different country and starting over is not a simple transition. Now, two non-profit organizations in Lincoln aim to provide immigrants and refugees with the necessary tools for success.

Community Action and Lincoln Literacy are collaborating to offer seminars to help adults acclimate to life in the United States. The purpose of these English classes is not only to assist immigrants and refugees in adjusting to life in the United States, but also to help them flourish by providing access to a variety of services and employment opportunities.

The classroom at the Head Start Building of Community Action will soon house English-learning adults.

“We serve about 500 individuals from low-income backgrounds and about 40% of children and families in our program speak another language other than English,” said Heather Loughman, CEO at Community Action. “Our goal with this facility is to invite as many partners as possible to increase access to services for those we serve, but also increase access to services in this neighborhood.”

30 August marks the beginning of English literacy classes at the facility at 18th and K Streets. They have been in development for months.

“We have the good life here in Lincoln, but at the same time we have many families living at poverty level and that affects the children,” said Renee Cox, Lincoln Literacy. “Many reasons for that, is because the adults in the family don’t have the skills they need to advance their jobs and get out of poverty.”

In addition to learning English, individuals will acquire additional skills.

“We’re also teaching other forms of literacy,” said Renee Cox, Lincoln Literacy. “We teach math literacy, we teach computer literacy, we teach health literacy which means people gain additional knowledge so that they can provide a better life for themselves and their family by getting better jobs.”

This is done to offer them a better chance at life in the United States.

“The English language, what it gives you, once you learn it when you’re a foreigner, it gives you freedom,” said Sandra Rojo, associate director at ELL Programs. “It doesn’t matter if you can speak very well in your own language, have a degree in anything. If you don’t speak the language it’s like you’re in a box.”

All of this is occurring at the Community Action building on 18th Street. The non-profit acquired the facility in September of 2017 and has since renovated it into a center for young children as well as a location for community resources such as these literacy lessons.

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