“We want to make sure we support organizations like ENB that are taking down barriers and providing classes and training specific to each workplace .…
to make sure everyone can continue to grow professionally
in this City.”
Mayor Michelle Wu
Launched as a Public-Private-Community Solution
English for New Bostonians (ENB) was spearheaded in 2001 by the Boston Mayor’s
Office for Immigrant Advancement, with the Office of Workforce Development, local
foundations, and immigrant leaders. ENB was launched to address the
urgent need for ESOL classes (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to serve our
city’s burgeoning immigrant communities, and to expand and better coordinate
Boston’s ESOL system. ENB’s Board of Directors seats a mix of City, philanthropic,
business, and immigrant leaders who lead our work to meet diverse community needs,
drive innovation, and bring our work high-level visibility.
Each year since 2001, ENB has supported 20+ ESOL providers to serve 900-1,000 adult learners. ENB customizes curricula, enables online and hybrid learning, trains teachers, and evaluates outcomes to ensure accountability and high-caliber programming. ENB classes enable immigrants – whether they’ve never held a pencil or they hold credentials from other countries – to learn English and create career pathways. And through workplace ESOL, ENB helps employees advance careers and companies benefit from untapped talent.
Since 2001, 20,000 new Bostonians have become able to grow small businesses, advance careers, help children thrive at school, pursue college degrees, and gain citizenship.
Statewide English Works Campaign
Coalition-building and advocacy have been vital to expanding our City’s ESOL system. In 2008, ENB launched the statewide English Works Campaign to raise awareness of the importance of English classes for immigrants, our economy, and the Commonwealth. By elevating immigrant voices, ENB has promoted understanding of and investment in ESOL by business and government leaders.
ENB has seen significant progress in reducing the vast gap between ESOL demand and supply. Funds allotted for ESOL by the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP) have grown substantially. ENB advocacy with WTFP also led to more flexible funding for workplace ESOL. Our work persistently raises attention about the importance of English proficiency as both a critical tool for immigrants to achieve economic success, and essential to the growth of our rapidly changing economy and workforce.
Independent 501c3 Status
In 2014, after over a decade of successful programming, ENB undertook an exhaustive exploration of its role in the field, with the goal to ensure its structure was the best possible to address the ongoing critical need for ESOL. In 2014, the organization incorporated as an independent 501c3 nonprofit. ENB retains our structure as a public/private partnership whose Board includes representation by the City of Boston, foundations, immigrant leaders, and businesses.
Recognized for Innovation
Working at the intersection of adult education and workforce development, ENB leads
alliances that bridge these fields and create onramps for immigrants to forge careers
and contribute their talents. Cutting-edge strategies, and the impact of our work across
Greater Boston and beyond, led to our recognition as an Innovator by the Social
Innovation Forum in 2019. ENB has gained greater exposure, added private funders,
and become a go-to organization for employers seeking to offer English classes to their
Leading Through the Pandemic
ESOL at Workplaces
English for New Bostonians began implementing our Workplace ESOL initiative with restaurants, manufacturers and supermarket chains in 2020, to help immigrants advance careers and employers benefit from untapped talent. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, ENB rapidly redesigned a workplace ESOL model deliverable through virtual instruction. This highly successful initiative enabled workers to continue advancing while idled from their jobs.
As Boston continues to recover, employers seek ENB’s guidance and expertise in teaching English contextualized to specialized workplaces. Workplace ESOL across restaurant, supermarket, manufacturing,
and building maintenance sectors includes courses customized for entry-level employees, managers and supervisors. Executives whose companies face workforce shortages increasingly recognize that offering
quality jobs, with training and respect for diversity, proves to be a win-win solution.
Online Learning, Digital Literacy and a Lifeline
Over the course of the pandemic, ENB has assisted our 20+ community ESOL programs to pivot to online instruction and address ongoing technical and staff challenges. This highly complicated endeavor provided a lifeline for limited English speakers, who have cherished seeing their ESOL teachers and classmates on Zoom while facing extremely chaotic lives and financial peril. ESOL staff help students with information on food access, filing for unemployment, housing assistance, and how to stay safe. ENB staff, as well as volunteers through the Allies for Immigrants ESOL Corps, fully engaged in helping teachers and students transition to virtual platforms.
A key silver lining from the pandemic experience: hundreds of immigrants have made strides in digital literacy skills necessary for life and work in today’s economy.
Sharing Knowledge Across the State and Country
Immigrants have always been the engine of the U.S. economy and culture. Organizations such as English for New Bostonians enable newcomers to share their dreams and talents, and enrich our cities and towns. We have always shared our best practices and sought opportunities to build on strong models with new partners, be it in new geographies or new sectors. Recent examples are in Chelsea, Brockton, and Springfield, MA; Providence, RI; and Indianapolis, IN.
“English programs are essential, not just for recent immigrants to engage in economic and social opportunities, but also for our great city to benefit from everything new Bostonians have to offer.”
Thomas M. Menino,
Former Mayor of Boston