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The Latest from the Community Learning Center


2015 Graduation Ceremony

About 80 students graduated from various CLC programs on Thursday, June 18th. 14 graduates were awarded schoarships to attend college from the Friends of the Community Learning Center. You can read more about the Graduation Ceremony from the coverage in Cambridge Chronicle.

Here is an excerpt from the graduation speech delivered by Fritzna Emmanuel, an ESOL Level 5 graduate:

Fritzna..... Dear graduates, today is our day! It's the day when we should all be proud of ourselves. Many of us left countries to come to the U.S. for a special reason. Some of us came for a better life, a better education, or to join our relatives. The first and most difficult barrier for us was English communication. Sometimes we wanted to express our wants and feelings, to fend for ourselves, but we could not. However, we all had a mother who was waiting for us to teach us how to say our first words and take our first steps. That mother is the Community Learning Center, a mother who is never tired.

Dear CLC staff, I am so proud to talk on your behalf today. You make me consider myself as a newborn today, a newborn who feels strong enough to take the next step. I remember when I first came to the U.S., I didn't know which way to go to get an education. Once I found CLC, I felt that I had real support. I started taking ESOL classes at CLC in January 2013, and with my teachers' help, I moved up extremely fast. Two and half years later, I am graduating from Level 5 ESOL.

Dear teachers, I want to thank you from my heart. I've been looking for a new word to describe how competent, reliable, compassionate, and patient you are, but I can't really find that word. I want to use all my senses, my heart, and my voice to thank you for where you've gotten me. You put me in a direction which is so real, a direction that can bring me to a brighter future.

Dear graduates, you should not have in your minds today that this is your last day of education. Instead, consider it as your first step into the future. Think about what your next step is going to be. CLC has put us on the right track. We are graduating from Level 5, but that doesn't mean we are leaving CLC. The CLC staff is going to still be willing to help us. They want us to succeed, and we will!

Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects Announced

BudgetDuring a Vote Results Party April 7 at the Citywide Senior Center, City officials, along with Budget and Finance staff, announced the winning projects of the Cambridge's first ever Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Launched in the fall, PB enabled residents to directly decide how to spend $500,000 of the FY16 Capital Budget. Over 380 ideas for projects to improve Cambridge were submitted. From January to March, 40 volunteer Budget Delegates prioritized and developed those ideas into 20 concrete project proposals to be placed on a ballot for the community to vote on.

Over 2,700 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted online and at events around town to decide which projects the City should fund. The following six projects won PB funding for FY16:

  • 20 new laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  • 100 new trees and tree wells in low-canopy neighborhoods ($119,400)
  • Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  • Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  • 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  • Free public Wi-Fi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)
The above projects totaling $527,400 will be implemented as part of the City of Cambridge FY16 Capital Budget. Many thanks to the PB Cambridge Steering Committee, the Budget Delegates, the Participatory Budgeting Project, City staff, the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make this pilot initiative a great success!

First Literacy Scholars 2014


Three Community Learning Center college transition graduates receive scholarships from First Literacy at a ceremony at Boston City Hall on July 15, 2014.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addressed the awardees and told them he also received a college degree late in life. Congratulations to the students! Support from the Friends of the CLC has been a crucial element in their success.

Alumni Association Treats Staff to Lunch and Alumni Stories

GraduatesCambridge Community Learning Center alumnus Kenneth Christian was one of ten members of the CLC Alumni Association who shared inspiring stories at a Staff Appreciation Lunch about how their experience at CLC impacted their lives. Kenneth studied for his GED at CLC 21 years ago. In addition to Kenneth, who is a native of Dominica, but now a US citizen, alumni attending the lunch represented eight countries. They were graduates of GED prep, ESOL Level 5, and the Bridge to College program.

After graduating from CLC's GED program in 1993 Kenneth completed a 9-month computer program at Boston University, took classes at Mattapan Technology, and studied PC Building, Repair and Networking. He worked at Bank of America for 17 years until his position was relocated. He now works for Verizon, where he sees a bright future.

Kenneth also studied and founded the Boston-Corinthian Church in Somerville where he says he is a minister as a calling, not as a secular job. He is married and has two children.

Get to Know Us and Our Work!

About the Friends of Community Learning Center from Friends of CLC on Vimeo.

Chalk Dust: A Teacher's Blog

Jessica Lander, a teacher for the ESOL/distance learning program funded by the Cambridge Community Foundation, posted about her experience working with the students over the past month. Here is a link to her blog post.

Friends of the CLC Receives Grant for Distance Learning


The Cambridge Community Foundation awarded a grant to the Friends of the CLC under their Immigrant Initiative to provide English instruction through distance learning. The purpose of this project is to reach people who have not been able to access ESOL classes in Cambridge because of family responsibilities, work schedules, or other issues. Online learning is supplemented with computer lab access and conversation groups around the city. This project is a collaboration with the Cambridge Housing Authority, Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, Cambridge Community Television, and Fresh Pond Apartments.

Cambridge residents and employees of Cambridge companies who are interested in this program can call the CLC at 617-349-6363 for more information.

Congratulations Graduates!


Career Pathway Graduates

Congratulations to the first group of Community Learning Center Adult Career Pathways students, who finished their 14 week Nursing Assistant, Career Planning, and Math Program on January 23, 2013. This group of 12 students was recruited from intermediate and upper intermediate level Community Learning Center ESOL classes and from other Adult Basic Education programs. The students came from a variety of countries, including, Morocco, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Nepal, Ethiopia, and Haiti. Two of the students had worked in hospitals in their own countries. Several had already done some work as Home Health Aides in the United States. All were highly motivated, enthusiastic participants in the program, juggling the responsibilities of family, jobs, and intensive classes, which met from 9:00 to 12:00 three mornings a week.

The curriculum for this program was contextualized so that lessons in grammar, conversation, vocabulary, math and career planning all focused on the work of health care providers, nursing assistants, and home health aides. The students worked hard to acquire the communication, job readiness and math skills that will be necessary for success in nursing assistant and home health aide training, which is the next step in the pursuit of a career in health care.

In the coming weeks, this graduating group will take the entrance test at the American Red Cross in order to qualify for CNA/Home Health Aide training. We wish them all the best in the future.

ESOL Class

English class teacher and students

Grant received for English Class for Seniors

The Friends of the Community Learning Center received a grant of $3,000 last year from the Americo J. Francisco Elder's Fund, administered by the Cambridge Community Foundation.

With this funding, the Community Learning Center implemented an English class for immigrant seniors at the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center in January, 2012. Eight elders, 60 years old and older, attend this class once a week for 1.5 hours. The teacher designs her lessons based on monthly themes that focus on life skills and topics of interest to older students. She also schedules Senior Center staff to speak to the class in order to familiarize students with the Senior Center and its programs. Students have already begun to take advantage of the information they received from these guest speakers. For example, all students got meal cards for reduced meals at the Senior Center and some have begun to make use of transportation available to them to get around the city. Students have responded positively to this class, which provides seniors with the opportunity to learn English, take advantage of services, and engage in social interactions with their peers.

We are pleased to report that the Friends received a second grant from the Francisco Fund this year, this time for $4,000. This will allow us to continue these classes.

Fidel and Kenny - 2012 Raffle winners!

Annual Raffle 2013

The 2013 raffle brought in over $5,000! The raffle drawing took place on May 1, 2013. Many thanks to everyone who bought or sold tickets.

We would also like to thank the sponsors who very generously donated the Prize Items. The prizes for this year's raffle included:


Our Workplace Education program graduate's speech

First Literacy Scholarship recipients, donors, and friends gathered in the Castle at Boston University on Thursday, March 1st to hear author Gregory Maguire, scholar Maria Tatar, and poet Tom Yuill speak about the magic and the mastery of language. First Literacy scholar Cassia Silva spoke about her path to mastering English, becoming an interpreter, and beginning her college career. Watch a video of Cassia's speech above.

Cassia Silva, a graduate of the workplace transition to college program at Cambridge Health Alliance, received a scholarship from First Literacy and was selected as their speaker for a recent fundraising event.

First Alumni Gathering

Alumni GatheringThe first of several events CLC is carrying out to celebrate its 40th anniversary was a party for CLC graduates on Friday, March 4th 2011. Organized by Margulien Saintus, an ESOL graduate from 1996, Gianni D'Auria, currently in ESOL 5, and Felipe Vaquerano, ESOL Instructor, the party was a great success. A total of twenty program graduates, four CLC staff and two Friends of the CLC board members attended the party. Graduates who attended heard updates about CLC activities, what the Friends board does, and about various ways to volunteer at the CLC. Nine of them signed up to volunteer in different capacities! One of the main goals for the party was to explore the possibility of establishing the CLC Alumni Association. After our first gathering, it is clear that there is a lot of potential to start the association.

Congress Declares National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

Family Literacy 1Congress has declared September 13-17 National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. This Congressional declaration is the culmination of national literacy advocacy and outreach.

Adult education and family literacy programs serve adult students who need to improve their basic literacy and math skills, improve their oral and written English, practice for the GED test to attain a high school equivalence degree, and prepare for community college or vocational training. According to the latest national survey, over 93 million American adults have limited literacy skills that hamper their ability to advance at work and in education, help their children with school work, interact with their health care professionals and participate in their communities.

Community Learning Center students and their children celebrated adult education and family literacy week with langage and math games. Daryl Mark, from the Cambridge Public Library, read stories and sang songs. Children received books donated by the Agenda for Children, the Center for Families, the Community Engagement Team and an annonymous donor.

CLC Students at the ABE Awareness Day at the State House

CLC at State HouseOn Thursday March 18, 25 Community Learning Center (CLC) students participated in Adult Literacy Awareness Day at the State House. In a meeting with Laura Sargent, aide to Representative Martha Walz, students Ali Ben Abderrahman, Chantal Pageot, Tenzin Lhunedop and Volel Volcy offered testimonials about how ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) classes have helped them to survive and even thrive in the community. After reporting that more than 500 people are on the current waiting list for ESOL classes at CLC, the group requested that Representative Walz support the increased or level funding of ESOL and other ABE (Adult Basic Education) classes in the state. They emphasized that the accessibility of this instruction will help all ABE students to participate more fully in their communities and to contribute to the strengthening of the overall economy. Following this meeting, the students gathered in Gardner auditorium to hear pro-ABE speeches by current ABE students, ABE graduates and elected officials including Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Rep. Marie St Fleur and Rep. Dan Bosley.