Stories From Non-Profit Partners
Black United Fund of Oregon and Downtown Languages
Downtown Languages (DTL), a 501-(c) (3) non-profit organization, incorporated in January 2004. DTL is dedicated to developing language, lifeskills and cultural competence in our community. We believe that every adult should be able to receive an education that will facilitate his or her acculturation to this country. Access, affordability, compassionate and practical language education for all are the tenets of Downtown Languages and the vision of the founders. In order to provide these services, we strive to hire highly qualified instructors who share this vision and are passionate about our mission.
Since 2009, the Black United Fund of Oregon has helped us cover some of our instructors’ wages. Our teachers are our greatest asset and the backbone of DTL’s success. They are highly qualified professionals; 90% of them have graduate degrees. Last year the funds received from BUFOR helped DTL pay the instructor’s wages for our U.S. citizenship class. This course prepares students to be successful in their U.S. citizenship interview examination as well as helping these adult immigrants to better understand the new, more challenging application requirements. The current recession has reduced some of DTL’s outside funding and the support received from BUFOR has allowed us to continue offering this class in every one of our sessions.
We provide citizenship instruction to approximately sixty students annually, including many older individuals who historically, might have fallen through the cracks and unable to achieve their dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. One of these students was a 74 year-old woman from Mexico named Gloria. After 10 months of studying at Downtown Languages she obtained her American citizenship. The process was strenuous given that her English skills were low and her study skills not entirely developed due to the fact that she was unable to complete all of her basic education in her native country. Nevertheless, she worked hard to memorize all the information needed to pass the exam and she finally became a U.S. citizen in early 2010. Her success story was portrayed in the June 2010 issue of Adelante Latino, and used as an example of a good role model for the Latino population. In the current political climate, obtaining American citizenship is a goal of many of our students and more people are stepping up to the challenge. The DTL staff is delighted to be able to provide this much needed instruction and assistance to our students.
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