English Tutoring Project (ETP) Receives $10,000 Grant from the Bellweather Foundation

English Tutoring Project (ETP) recently received a grant for $10,000 from the Bellweather Foundation to expand services to meet the new and continued demand for English language instruction for students of immigrant and refugee families.

ETP’s staff of highly qualified tutors (certified teachers) meet with students individually, or in small groups, two to five times per week for 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the needs of the student) during the school day. During these sessions, students learn language acquisition skills in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing (including grammar and spelling). We provide services throughout the school year and students remain in the program until they reach proficiency. Tutors work with classroom teachers and use the LAS assessment tool to identify the individual skills and needs of each student and develop appropriate curricular activities. To supplement classroom work, tutors use the 2nd Edition of the Oxford Picture Dictionary for vocabulary development, learning games, hands-on materials, educational applications, and other projects. Pivotal to the success of these students is engaging and providing language learning opportunities for parents and families. In many cases, parents do not speak, read, or write English; in some cases, parents cannot read or write their native language. As funding allows, ETP provides interpretation and translation services to parents during teacher conferences and through written materials, such as student reports and surveys.

Learning language in school is one of the most critical services immigrant and refugee families need. According to the Migration Policy Institute, roughly 48% of immigrants (ages five and older) were Limited English Proficient (LEP). While English language services are critical, they are rarely provided in Catholic schools. Despite the fact that many schools are reporting a continued influx of immigrant/refugee families, which is consistent with the national trend, there are little to no resources to meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELL). Without assistance, these students have a higher probability of dropping out of school and face some of the most pronounced achievement gaps of any student group.

ETP, an initiative of the St. Louis Area Women Religious Collaborative Ministries, was founded in 1998 after a representative group of three sisters identified a pressing unmet need to provide English instruction to children of immigrant and refugee families. ETP serves 100-150+ students annually who are enrolled in Catholic elementary and middle schools. Students may enroll in ETP services regardless of faith background or religious affiliation.