Lincoln non-profits help refugees and immigrants with free English classes

Two Lincoln non-profits want to give immigrants and refugees the tools they need to succeed.
Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 5:50 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -It’s no easy transition, moving to a foreign land and starting over. Now, two Lincoln non-profits want to give immigrants and refugees the tools they need to succeed.

Community Action and Lincoln Literacy are teaming up to offer classes for adults to help them adjust to life in the U.S. These English classes are not only designed to help immigrants and refugees adjust, but to thrive in the United States by opening the door to a variety of services and jobs, just by knowing the language.

The classroom at the Community Action’s Head Start Building will soon host adults learning English.

“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.”

English literacy classes start at the facility at 18th and K Streets on Aug. 30. They’ve been in the works 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.”

People will not only learn English, but also gain other 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.”

All of this to give them a better shot at life here in the 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.”

This is all happening at Community Action’s building at 1843 K St. The non-profit purchased the building last September and they have transformed it into an early childhood center, as well as a space for community resources like these literacy classes.