Library receives funding to teach English

Published 9:12 pm Friday, February 9, 2018

Suffolk Public Library is one of just 20 public libraries nationwide to receive a $10,000 American Dream Literacy Initiative grant this year, the city announced this week.

The American Library Association and Dollar General Literacy Foundation offer the grants annually to expand adult library services that teach English and foster education and workforce development.

“We want libraries to use the funds to build adult English as a Second Language programming with community partners in their regions,” said Jody Gray, the director of ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach.


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There were 85 public libraries that applied for the 20 available grants this year, according to the ALA Public Programs Office. Gray said Suffolk Public Library was chosen in part because of its demonstrated success with Suffolk Public Schools, the Suffolk Literacy Council and other community partners.

“The community partners are a huge part in what we want the libraries to build,” she said. “Because that’s how these programs become more sustainable.”

Suffolk Public Library is planning to use the funding for “Literacy Link,” a multifaceted effort to provide free English instruction at the North Suffolk Library. There will also be outreach programs for Suffolk Public Schools, according to the press release.

The program is scheduled to begin this spring with weekly English classes, bi-monthly conversational classes, tutors, informational sessions, parent-teacher conferences and administrative support.

According to the press release, one in six adults in Suffolk reads below the fifth-grade level. There has also been a 5.6-percent increase in foreign-born residents from 2011 to 2016.

Suffolk Literacy Council data shows a 60-percent increase in registrations for services that teach English, which signals a need for more programs like “Literacy Link.”

“This program will benefit the community by fostering relationships among diverse groups of people and helping bridge the gap many English language learners in Suffolk face,” Suffolk Public Library Outreach and Program Services Manager Megan Mulvey stated in the press release.

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