The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently awarded the Boston Public Library Fund $50,000 to enhance and expand English as a Second Language (ESL) programs across the BPL system. With one of the few 100-percent-cost-free ESL learning programs in the city, the Boston Public Library provides an essential community resource for a growing and diverse population.
The grant will help fund the hiring of a literacy instructor and a volunteer coordinator, increase the number of branches that offer ESL coursework, and much more over a three-year period.
IMLS distributed the funding as part of its American Rescue Plan Grants program, which addresses community needs created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the Library was able to move its ESL programming online to accommodate socially distanced learning. Program attendance almost doubled in the period immediately following the change, demonstrating the immense demand for ESL programming across the Boston community.
Boston Public Library Fund Executive Director Paula Sakey says she’s grateful to IMLS for its generous support: “Whether online or in one of our 26 branches, we want our patrons to feel supported in their pursuit to learn English. This generous grant from IMLS will enable the BPL staff to meet our patrons’ request for more English-language classes, small-group tutoring sessions, and volunteer-led conversation groups.”