Catholic Charities to Stand Down English as a Second Language & Citizenship Classes

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Colorado Springs, CO – (June 23, 2022) Catholic Charities of Central Colorado will cease to offer English as a Second Language (ESL) and Citizenship classes beginning July 1.  The spring and summer semesters have concluded, and the program will not continue into the Fall 2022 semester.  ESL students are being provided with information on other organizations in the community that offer these services.

“We have always been an agency that develops programs to fill the gaps of community needs,” said Catholic Charities CEO Andy Barton.  “When we began the program in 1999, we were one of the only organizations providing these services.  Now with ESL services offered throughout the community, our program is duplicating existing services rather than filling a service gap, which is why we have decided to stand down our program.”

Anyone seeking ESL education and citizenship programs can access local school districts, churches, and the Pikes Peak Library District.  Additionally, ESL education will be offered at the Family Success Center in District 2 as well as through Pikes Peak State College.  “As we develop and expand programs to meet community needs, it no longer makes sense to continue a program that is now widely offered in our community by other organizations,” said Lorri Orwig, chief operating officer for Catholic Charities.  “We have consulted with these providers, and they have assured us they have room within their programs to accommodate our students.”

Catholic Charities is not exiting the English education arena completely as we will support these community programs through sharing appropriate content such as citizenship support and Know Your Rights presentations.

Catholic Charities’ ESL program consisted of English education classes, Spanish computer classes, case management, access to health, and citizenship preparation classes.  While ESL and Citizenship classes will no longer be available at Catholic Charities, the Hanifen Employment Center will begin offering evening and/or weekend computer classes in Spanish; clients can access health care through Penrose-St Francis Faith Community nurses located at the Marian House and Helen Hunt Campuses as well as the SET clinic at Marian House; clients can access appropriate case management through our individual and family programs; and citizenship mentoring is available through our Family Immigration Services (FIS) for clients served in the FIS program.

During the 23-year history of the Catholic Charities ESL program, day and evening classes were offered in three locations.  During the pandemic, classes were offered online only, and this past year, classes were offered online during the day and at Atlas Prep High School in the evening.  An average of 180 students were served annually with access to health care, computer and citizenship classes, and case management services.

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