Bridging Basic Skills Through English Language Acquisition to Improve Workplace and Community Participation 

March 2017 Newsletter
Message from Executive Director, Aida Cardenas
California is home to over 10 million immigrants, of which 6.2 million are English Language Learners (ELL's). Although the majority of ELL's arrive to the United States with an average middle school education level, a considerable percentage of the U.S. labor force are professionally skilled immigrants and represent an untapped pool of technical, interpersonal, and leadership talent. 
Although working in skilled professions in their countries of origin, their limited English ability presents challenges to achieve workplace mobility and economic success once in the United States. Access to English classes is especially difficult for a janitor, given their hectic work schedules and family responsibilities.  Through a dual commitment fostered by Building Skills Partnership, both employer and labor invest in providing Vocational English classes at the work site to immigrant workers, enabling them to effectively integrate and move forward in all aspects of their lives. 

The stories below demonstrate the positive impact of this uniquely joint effort to invest in immigrants of all education levels in support of an engaged workforce and their pursuit of the American Dream. 

Aida Cardenas 
Executive Director
English as a Tool for Career Advancement and Integration in the Community
Lizeth E., a dentist in her home country of Mexico, immigrated to the United States in search of new opportunities and the American Dream. She currently works as a janitor on
the night  shift at Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley. Upon immigrating to the United States,  Lizeth struggled to pursue similar work in dentistry and integrate into society due to a lack of English proficiency. Given her busy work schedule and family responsibilities, access to English language classes was a challenge.

Through partnerships with high-tech companies such as Google, BSP bridges the basic skills gap by providing ADVANCE Vocational English classes to janitors at the worksite. Lizeth is an incredibly driven and intelligent student whose enthusiasm for learning and for career advancement motivated her to continue studying English at an Adult School in San Jose. Lizeth, like many skilled immigrants, represents a pool of potential opportunity for employers to build upon the skills of educated immigrants to create a more engaged and dynamic workforce. 

Lizeth's story proves that a little English Language acquisition goes a long way. In addition to communicating more effectively at work, Lizeth is better able to communicate with her son's teachers at his school. With some language support, Lizeth's can create a new life for herself and her family. 
New English Skills Open Doors for Participation and Integration
For many Latino immigrants, learning English is more than just a tool for communication, it opens doors for participation and integration. Isabel Quinonez is a hard working janitor at ABM in Los Angeles. She participated in BSP's English as a Second Language class and computer class, improving on both her language and tech skills. As a result, Isabel can communicate with her family in Mexico and access information online regarding her bills and children's education.

Isabel's hard work in the classes stem from her desire to achieve a better life for herself and her family. With the support of BSP's English Language classes, Isabel was able to enroll in BSP's Citizenship classes and eventually received her U.S. citizenship, marking a major milestone in her life. As a citizen, Isabel plans to participate and give back to her community. By providing pathways to citizenship through English language acquisition, immigrant workers like Isabel and her family are closer to reaching their dreams of upward mobility. 
Honoring Mike Garcia
Since beginning his career with SEIU-United Service Workers West in 1980, Mike's commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of immigrant workers inspired statewide campaigns that helped janitors and their families achieve social and economic justice across California. 

BSP is proud to partner with Mike's family and SEIU-USWW, to continue to support the children of immigrant workers in their pursuit of a higher education through the Mike Garcia Scholarship Fund.  

The scholarship fund was established to honor the contributions of Mike Garcia and founded on his vision to see the children of immigrants prosper. For more information or to donate, visit the page on our website
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