Grant Proposal: 1) Zaman is seeking support for its literacy initiative, a component of Building Ongoing Opportunity through Skills Training (BOOST). BOOST is a workforce development program that teaches women the soft and hard skills needed to secure employment in industrial sewing and culinary arts. It improves the language proficiency of native and non-native speakers alike and offers ESL, pre-GED, digital, and job readiness literacy programs. The American Community Survey states 5.3% of Wayne County residents do not speak English. Most live in Dearborn (44.55%) and Dearborn Heights (26.86%), communities that are home to many of Zaman’s clients. The population of non-native speakers is projected to grow as Afghani refugees are expected to settle in these areas in the coming months. Poor language skills also impact native speakers. The illiteracy rate in Detroit, also served by Zaman, is reported to be 47%. Gaining English proficiency is essential to becoming integrated into the workforce. It allows people to complete pre-requisites for employment like securing a high school diploma or GED and skills-based training that prepares them for industry-specific work. 2) Zaman will address the need by offering multi-level training that increases low-literacy levels. The lessons are delivered through one-on-one and small group tutoring that aligns pacing and intensity to students’ abilities. The ESL program uses Laubach Way to Reading, Challenger, Side by Side, and Burlington English online curricula. Tutoring sessions involve conversational dialogue and listening, reading, and writing. Burlington English is also used with native speakers who need to improve their aptitude. It provides students with a foundation of basic vocabulary, language structures, work, and life skills, so they will be able to communicate and interact in any environment. It also allows instructors to integrate workforce prep and career ready skills. As many of the tools used to teach literacy are web-based, students have access to a digital literacy coordinator who helps them access lessons and complete homework online. Participants receive two hours of literacy instruction coupled with 2.5 hours of vocational training twice a week for 35 weeks. Those not interested in training can receive up to four hours of literacy. 3) Clients come from Detroit, Inkster, Dearborn, and Dearborn Heights. Data from 2020 and 2019 documents unemployment in Detroit as 25% and Inkster as 8.3%, among the highest in Michigan. Conversely, rates in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights are among the lowest at 3.8 and 4.1%, respectively. Poverty in Detroit, Inkster, Dearborn, and Dearborn Heights are 35, 33.5, 28.2, and 18.6%, respectively-all among the highest in the state. This suggests that even in areas with relatively low unemployment, families are not earning enough to avoid poverty. 4) Zaman’s goal is to help students achieve English fluency so they can gain employment. The program has a strong job readiness component that helps students write resumes and prepare for interviews. Zaman expects to serve 80 women. 5) Success is determined by attendance, technical skills mastery, and comprehension of written industry terminology. Zaman uses Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS), a nationally recognized exam, to measure skill development. The organization also asks participants to complete an end-of-year survey to assess their qualitative experiences.
Requested Amount of Grant: $10,000
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