SVCF Accelerates Silicon Valley ESL Funding

Silicon Valley is home to a large and growing Latino population, and with more and more Hispanic immigrants and refugees coming to the region, the need for English programs is growing as well. To ensure English programs are accessible for low-income newcomers, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) is committed to providing grant funding for English projects. (See Silicon Valley Community Foundation: Bay Area Grants).

In December, the SVCF provided more than $675,000 in grants to 13 organizations, making the foundation one of the valley's largest supporters of English learning programs for immigrants and refugees.

"Learning English is one of the most important steps," said Manuel J. Santamaria, the community foundation's grantmaking director, at the time of the announcement. "It helps people get better paying jobs, helps them better prepare their children for school, and helps them build the confidence to interact with civic institutions and engage in their communities."

The foundation has been been funding English programs since 2008, and in 2011, more than 3,000 students received language training and instruction, with more than 60% completing programs funded by the SVCF. When students were eligible to continue their studies, almost 100% enrolled in further courses.

Many different English-language training nonprofits received funding from the SVCF last year. Building Skills Partnership, which houses a program that provides English training for building maintenance employees, received a $60,000 grant. Although Building Skills Partnership has worked with the SVCF in the past, awards were granted to some new organizations as well.

Grant funding was provided for a pilot program from the Campbell Adult Education Program. The $40,000 grant will help the school create a digital platform for ESL learning that seeks to better engage and prepare students. ALLIES, a network of community colleges, also received funding to improve access to and student success in English learning programs.

The community foundation — which is one of the largest philanthropic groups in the region, with more than $2 billion in assets — has long supported empowering the region's immigrant population. Overall, more than 4,500 adults have received English training, and the foundation’s approach to immigrant integration seeks to promote the mutual benefits for both immigrants and their communities. (Read SVCF president, Emmett Carsons IP profile).