Authored by Seeds of Literacy
How does a successful nonprofit expand its reach without compromising its mission? Seeds of Literacy is hoping to find out. The award-winning adult education organization has just launched a Spanish language pilot program. Last week, they held their first high school equivalency (HSE) class in Spanish in the nonprofit’s 20-plus-year history.
Part of a pilot program made possible through United Way, the goal of Spanish-language HSE classes is to bring Seeds’ personalized, flexible, one-to-one instruction methods to Spanish-speakers across the Greater Cleveland area. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 8 at Seeds’ West Side location at Clark and W 25th.
Program Manager Dr. Carmine Stewart is excited for the program’s potential impact. “Spanish language classes remove the language barrier,” she says. “It gives our students more access to educational opportunities.”
What’s more, Seeds might have the perfect location for its classes. Seeds West makes its home in the Clark Fulton neighborhood, known as having the highest Latinx population in the city and perhaps the state.
Student Outreach Coordinator Jen Thurau believes the classes are a vital step in strengthening Seeds’ relationship with the surrounding area. “We know that we’re in this community and this neighborhood,” she says. “We should all be working together. It’s an opportunity.”
The program is starting at an exciting time for Seeds. Last month, they celebrated 51 new graduates—students who obtained their GED or other high school equivalency—for the 2018-2019 school year. It was one of the highest totals since the GED switched to a computer-only test in 2014. Seeds hope to supplement those numbers this year with students from Spanish-language classes.
There will be challenges ahead. Seeds relies heavily on volunteer tutors, and the organization is actively seeking Spanish-speaking or bilingual tutors for a weekly commitment. Those interested should contact Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Farrer at email@example.com.
Seeds is always looking for tutors for its English-language classes as well. After all, the need is great: Seeds serves close to a thousand students each year, and 66% of adults in Cleveland can be classified as functionally illiterate.
The pilot program, which is planned to last through December, is already close to reaching its enrollment goals. Thurau is optimistic about the program’s prospects. “I hope it can be the start of something bigger for us,” she says, “and I hope it can be the start of something bigger for our students too.”