By Kathy Chouteau
The Richmond Public Library’s Literacy for Every Adult Program’s (LEAP) ESL (English as a Second Language) component has been awarded $50,000 in funding from California Library Literacy Services (CLLS) to expand its services, according to Literacy Program Manager Abigail Sims-Evelyn.
The funding will enable LEAP’s ESL Program to provide additional free literacy services, while also being eligible to receive additional funds over the next four years. Sims-Evelyn said the program has hired a new staff member and is expanding to offer more ESL classes to community members in the evenings and on Saturdays.
“We are very excited to be able to expand this particular service because we know there is a great need in Richmond, given that there are so many households where English is not the first language,” she said.
Sims-Evelyn relayed that LEAP’s ESL program is offered online and in-person, is available on an ongoing basis via open enrollment and is tailored by the staff to each person’s individual needs. She said the program “includes opportunities for people learning to read and write in English and adjusting to this culture to come to LEAP for instruction.”
Sims-Evelyn added that the program also helps people “overcome fears” so that they can be a part of the community” and that “they meet others with similar needs and they all practice together.”
She said that when people begin their ESL Program journey, they’re are encouraged to stay involved until they feel secure about their goals and then move onto other areas of learning—such as LEAP’s other offerings, including earning their GED or high school diploma. “People are allowed to be involved with our services until they’ve met their goals.”
Sims-Evelyn said that she believes that the literacy programs, Richmond Public Library and other services in the City of Richmond are in a “prime position to be of great service to all people…and it ties in with the idea of ‘pride and purpose.’ We’re very prideful about what we’re able to offer here in the City of Richmond, and we have a purpose.”
Again, LEAP’s ESL Program services are offered on a rolling basis; to get started, contact the office at 510-307-8084.