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BCF Grant Helps Literacy Volunteers and ESL Programs

Literacy14Adult literacy continues to be an enormous problem in the Greater New Haven area, where 3 in 5 adults have only basic or below basic literacy skills. In Branford, 4.6% of adults identify themselves as “not speaking English well” and experience difficulty reading a bus schedule, filling out job applications and helping their children to succeed in school. The need to expand the availability of free literacy services in communities like Branford is related to the growing realization that adult literacy is critical to the economic success of our region as well as the educational success of the children who live here.

In May 2013, Literacy Volunteers received a $2,000 grant from the Branford Community Foundation to help adults in Branford to learn to speak English well enough to secure employment and to facilitate their children’s education. Specifically, grant money was used to:

  1. Provide materials and tutoring support for ESL students who are learning to speak English in the Branford East Shore Region Adult Continuing Education (ERACE) Program held at Branford High School AND
  2. Train additional volunteers to work with these students.

Volunteer tutors began working with ERACE students in September, 2013. Volunteers assisted ERACE teachers in several classes, allowing teachers to divide these classes into subgroups, hereby affording ESL students more individualized attention.

The Literacy Volunteer tutors worked with a total of 84 ESL students at ERACE. This past year, 90% of the students with whom the Literacy Volunteer tutors worked made a significant 4-point gain, as measured by pre- and post-testing on the standardized CASAS test. These are excellent results that truly illustrate the value of the partnership between ERACE, Literacy Volunteers and the Branford Community Foundation.