Last night I had the opportunity and the privilege to speak at the graduation ceremony for One America’s English Innovations program. The ceremony last night was held here in City Hall and aw some more than 80 students graduating.
Here is a shot of some of the graduates with me, Councilmember Richard Conlin and Mayor Michael McGinn in the back row.
Seattle’s immigrant population is 17% and growing. Unfortunately, there are not enough English Language Learning (ELL) courses available for everyone who would like to learn English. And we all know how important it is to have some command of English to be successful in the U.S. today. We also know how important the having some basic computer literacy is in today’s workforce. The English Innovations program bridges these two needs and provides some of our newest friends and neighbors to Washington the opportunity to learn English and develop some basic computer skills. Students get a free laptop, work with a tech coach and get paired with a One America volunteer to have online conversations in English.
The program has been a huge success. One America Founder and Executive Director Pramila Jayapal said that the students coming out of the pilot program are performing at or above the state average for similar ELL courses. Pramila is pictured here with tech coach Chris and graduate Aoxiang, from China.
This is a truly innovative program and it was inspiring to see the joy on the graduates’ faces and hear them using their new English skills as they chatted with each other last night.
We were also treated to this great music video of the graduates last night, featuring music from local artists Blue Scholars.