LaGuardia Collaborates With Lehman College on Queens-Bronx Express English for Work Initiative

LaGuardia Collaborates With Lehman College on Queens-Bronx Express English for Work Initiative

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (April 2, 2024) — LaGuardia Community College/CUNY and Lehman College/CUNY were recently awarded a three-year grant of $500,000 ($250,000 each) from the CUNY Workforce Development Initiative – Contract Courses/Workforce Development funding program.

In FY24, New York State gave CUNY approval to earmark a portion of this annual funding program for the English Language for Work Initiative, which seeks to provide training to asylum seekers and migrants. The grant will be used to support costs associated with the “Queens-Bronx Express (QBE): English for Work” project being led by John Hunt, Assistant Dean for Pre-College Academic Programs in LaGuardia’s Division of Adult Continuing Education.

“More than 125,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since the spring of 2022, most of them fleeing life-threatening poverty and public safety conditions in their home countries in Central and South America,” Mr. Hunt said. “With more than 60,000 asylum seekers currently in the city’s care, and many more arriving each week, their plight is one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies our city has ever faced.”

In response, LaGuardia will partner with Lehman College to speed pathways to workforce credentialing for asylum seekers and migrants with work authorization into careers with a focus on food service and healthcare through the Queens-Bronx Express (QBE): English for Work initiative.

Through contextualized language training and applied learning, students in the QBE program will develop in-demand skills to apply new and existing knowledge in quality jobs in the food service and health care sectors, top employers in both boroughs. Since schools will provide the same in-person orientation and intake services, with LaGuardia as the lead in the Food Service track and Lehman College as the lead in the Healthcare track, students can move seamlessly between programs at both campuses and be referred to the appropriate track or other existing contextualized programs, such as the Immigrant Nursing program. LaGuardia is a national leader in adapting Washington State’s “I-BEST” model to integrate basic English language skills and certificate training, thus improving access for students at lower English language proficiency levels who are often excluded from traditional trainings and career pathways. Lehman uses the same model in its ESL contextualized training programs.

The QBE program will support asylum seekers and facilitate their transition from arrival to work in quality jobs through English language learning, relevant employment-related training, and access to wraparound services.

“This individuated and holistic approach will ensure that students receive comprehensive support and connect them to employment opportunities that will provide mobility and improve the standard of living for themselves and their families in New York City,” Mr. Hunt said. “In addition to intake services, LaGuardia will launch a contextualized ESL for Food Service track that will expand their successful English Express program to support three cohorts of asylum seekers.”

Lehman’s Healthcare track will initiate an ESL/CPR Healthcare Bridge leading to an expansion of their successful ESL/CNA program adding 3 additional cohorts. Both schools are ready to begin receiving referrals for Spring 2024.

The QBE program will also build on the proven success of LaGuardia and Lehman College to facilitate the transition of recent immigrants to a new life and quality employment in NYC. The largest provider of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instruction in New York City, LaGuardia, recently developed LaGuardia English Express, a special program of orientation and assessment activities, English language workshops contextualized to the immediate needs of daily living, and referrals to educational and training programs at LaGuardia and other providers.

Hunt says the QBE Program will be different. “The QBE will provide a natural extension of serving this population by creating vital capacity in the sector-based workforce training with contextualized English language learning,” he said. “Both LaGuardia and Lehman are anchor institutions in the immigrant community,” Mr. Hunt says. “By enrolling in BQE, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants will not only be receiving the most effective contextualized English language workforce training, but also connecting with institutions that have multiple supports for new New Yorkers.”

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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