Federal Stimulus Benefits City Workforce

New Program Offer Grants for Adult Ed, English Lessons
Local employers, nonprofit organizations and other agencies will have a chance to apply for newly available money for adult education and English language programs.
The state has set aside $1.4 million in federal stimulus money to fund a new “Learn at Work” program. Applicants can seek up to $225,000 for three years.
“This is an all-American program that teaches English to the individuals that have the capacity to soar in our society but for that one obstacle, and that obstacle is being able to converse and be literate in our language,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said at a news conference announcing the availability of the grants.
The new initiative is meant to promote public-private partnerships and provide opportunities for workers to learn at their workplaces. Businesses can tailor programs to meet their specific needs, such as improving customer service.
While the state has cut money for adult education and work force training from its budget, state officials have put together a dedicated fund using money from the $787 billion federal stimulus package to support this type of training.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for the immigrant population in the New Bedford area,” said Helena Marques, executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center.
Many area residents could benefit from adult education and English lessons, speakers said.
New Bedford High School has lower graduation rates than the state, and nearly 40 percent of the city residents speak a language other than English at home, compared to 18 percent statewide, said Chris O’Neil, chairman of the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board’s business development committee.
Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny, D-New Bedford, said it’s important that employers apply for the grants and partner with the appropriate agencies, because their businesses will benefit.
“You’ll absolutely add to the productivity of your work force,” Montigny said.
Requests for proposals will be available through the Web site of the program’s administrator, Commonwealth Corp., at www.commcorp.org. Companies and agencies can also call Bridget Alexander of the local work force investment board at (508) 979-1504, Ext. 15.
Source URL: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091110/NEWS/911100329/-1/NEWSMAP

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