In July 2022, the Storehouse, a Collin County-based nonprofit, launched its newest program The Academy as part of the organization’s ongoing effort to serve the community. The program is focused on providing tools to develop language, job and life skills for those enrolled.
Update 11/21/2023, 10:30 a.m.: Beginning in 2022 with 41 students, the program grew in 2023 to see 151 graduates. “I am amazed at the significant growth of the program in a little over a year,” Storehouse volunteer Pam East told Plano Star Courier. “This clearly demonstrates a growing need for these types of programs in areas of increasing immigrant populations for successful cultural assimilation.”
One of the most popular courses offered in the program is English as a second language (ESL). The first seventy-five-member group to participate in the ten-week pilot program attended four-hour classes every Saturday from June 4 through August 13. Attendees paid $40 each to cover the cost of textbooks and other materials, although The Storehouse offered scholarships for residents who can’t cover the costs of the classes.
As part of the course, students must take a mandatory assessment before the classes start to allow the organization to place students within their level of English proficiency. According to Good Life Family, this first assessment showed that 52% of the participants had a college degree or higher, but were not able to contribute to the workforce due to the language barrier.
“The response to this program has been overwhelming and emotional for both our neighbors and volunteers,” said Ligia Urrego, director of The Storehouse Academy. “They are working hard and are very eager to learn.” Urrego knows the difficulties of being a newcomer and lacking language skills firsthand. “Language is our neighbors’ biggest barrier,” said Urrego. “When my husband and I came to the United States from Colombia, we each began our journeys with ESL classes before we could begin college. We put ourselves on the same level as our neighbors. We know from personal experience that learning English will be transformative for each of them.”
Now The Academy program has expanded for the fall and according to NBCDFW within the first hour of publication, 400 people tried to register for the ESL courses, showing how much demand there is for English course offerings in our fast-growing community.
This story was originally published on Aug. 18, 2022.