Working to Create a Culture in Which Everyone has a Voice

English In Action serves the immigrant community from Aspen to Carbondale. Since 1994, the organization has been connecting adult English learners with volunteer tutors and hosting events designed to foster cross-cultural exchange. They seek to build a stronger community and intercultural relationships by nurturing language development, personal empowerment and community engagement.

While teaching English is the foundation of the nonprofit’s programs, many of its students and tutors are surprised and enlightened by the depth and richness of the friendships they make.

“Breaking down cultural barriers is no small feat, but the benefits of nurturing a more integrated and harmonious community in which all members have a voice are immeasurable,” said Rachel Schmidt, match advisor and marketing manager for English In Action. “We’re doing more than teaching English. We’re broadening perspectives, opening hearts and expanding opportunities for local adult immigrants and their volunteer English tutors.”

One of the injustices revealed by the pandemic was unequal access to, and knowledge of, digital communication for many immigrant community members. The organization’s leadership determined that in the age of COVID-19, this lack of digital fluency impacts their clientele’s ability to stay safe, continue to learn and to engage in the community.

That spurred their new Digital Equity and Literacy Program. After completing a course in computer basics, English In Action students receive a new laptop or tablet for an affordable voluntary donation.

Recent graduate Manuel Gomez agreed that having his own computer and learning how to use it is helping him navigate his day-to-day life in the digital age. “The computer is a new language. Right now, you go to the doctor, and they’ll help you a little bit, but they hand you a tablet and say, ‘You check in.’ You have to do everything.”

And while learning how to “do everything” on a computer is a gradual process, English In Action’s Digital Literacy Program has provided Manuel with the foundation he needs to build his digital proficiency.

“Alpine Bank’s continuous support allows us to recruit, train and support our volunteer tutors as they help our adult students learn English and feel welcome in this community,” said Rachel. “Funds provided by Alpine Bank will also help sustain our Digital Equity program going forward and allow our staff to support our immigrant participants as they work to overcome the unique challenges brought about by COVID-19.”

Learn more about the work of English In Action or volunteer to become an English tutor, at englishinaction.org.

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