Xcel Energy Foundation Empowers Sioux Falls Immigrants To Succeed in the Workforce

LSS Center for New Americans
Tim Jurgens, Director

Students from across the globe work together to learn more English and develop both job and academic skills.

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A grant from the Xcel Energy Foundation provides intermediate (literacy level 3) and advanced (literacy level 4) English classes for our students. With this grant we have been able to teach literacy skills for our students as they also work on College and Career Readiness Skills. Students learn important vocabulary and skills to help them secure and maintain jobs, and, if they so choose, continue on with their education.

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company operating in eight Western and Midwestern states. The company is committed to providing cost-effective, clean, responsible energy delivered with the highest standards for safety, reliability, and responsiveness. Xcel Energy supports communities in four important focus areas: STEM education, workforce development, environmental stewardship, and access to arts and culture. Xcel Energy has supported LSS since 2004 and the Center for New Americans since 2009.

One Burmese student says that for her, the most important thing about English class is that “my English is growing a little” every day.

College Readiness Skills help students work hard to develop the reading and writing skills needed for college. Students learn to make predictions, answer comprehension questions, cite evidence, read charts, edit, etc. Students often come from an interrupted education background and may or may not have written in their own language. Learning to write a coherent paragraph is an accomplishment that many students cherish. Many students have not had the chance to write entire paragraphs in English before and are very excited to go through the drafting process, learn to communicate with clear, organized thoughts, and express themselves.

Well over half of the literacy students have never had the opportunity to use a computer before coming to English class, and it is very important to them to learn how to use technology in American society. Students also master the use of online translators and learn to search the Internet for information.

Career-Readiness Skills are important for our students to become fully productive members of American society. Students learn to write resumes and cover letters, learn the in’s and out’s of job seeking and the interview process, and they also develop the career-readiness skills and vocabulary to succeed in their chosen fields. Some of the other skills include reading charts, work schedules, inventory lists, menus, and receipts. Students have learned to write messages to supervisors and co-workers, use computers to access email and navigate the Internet to search for information and find jobs.

Talking with my students, a student from Guatemala says that literacy classes “open opportunities” for new jobs and help him identify and “understand many safety problems,” that could occur at the work site. In addition he says that working with computers in the classroom has taught him to “navigate, because it has a lot of English and sometimes there are no options for translating.” He states that, “A good English class provides many options.” The Xcel Energy Foundation helps provide these options, empowering adult English learners to meet their goals by gaining practical college and career readiness skills to use the in the workplace and in their ongoing studies.

Thank you, Xcel Energy, for your financial generosity and partnership, which is helping refugees and immigrants at the LSS Center for New Americans.

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