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Lynn Mayor Thomas McGee’s office teamed up with the nonprofit Jewish Vocational Services in an effort to connect residents with free classes for English language learners and other community resources.
The “Learn More, Earn More” campaign held its kickoff on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 15, when volunteers spread the word about JVS’s “English for Advancement” program, which includes English classes and job coaching.
Alissa Brooks of JVS said the Boston-based workforce development organization has run the program for about a year in downtown Lynn, where more than 40 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home and where there is a high poverty rate.
After a kickoff event at Lynn City Hall featuring speakers including the mayor and graduates of the program, 80 volunteers went into the community to distribute flyers at grocery stores, in parking lots, and door-to-door, with packets containing information about the program and other community resources helpful to English language learners. Brooks said nearly 3,000 pieces of material were distributed.
The material also advertised two informational sessions scheduled in January, which resulted in a 300 percent increase in attendance compared to previous sessions, Brooks said, and a 150 percent enrollment increase in the English for Advancement program, which is funded solely through JVS.
Brooks credited McGee with spearheading the campaign and his team with identifying the best neighborhoods to canvass with materials, as well as drawing media attention through his involvement.
“People at the orientation said they saw it on TV,” she said. “We were able to do more because of his presence there.”
Beyond the personal benefits to the individuals who enroll in the program, Brooks said it helps the community as a whole, as those individuals become taxpayers and increase their income. It also helps the individuals become more involved with the community as their English skills improve.