LaGuardia Community College & Commonpoint Queens Granted $495,000 from Kresge Foundation to Train English Language Learners to Become Community Health Workers

One of just six community college & community-based organization partnerships selected among nationwide applications for funding from Kresge’s BOOST Initiative

January 16, 2020

Destina Garcia, a community health worker with Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, on her way to a home visit with a client in the Bronx
Photo credit: Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

LaGuardia Community College (“LaGuardia”) and Commonpoint Queens have been jointly awarded $495,000 from The Kresge Foundation to facilitate a partnership that will connect low-income families with critical human services and educational pathways to advance their social and economic mobility. LaGuardia and Commonpoint will utilize the three-year grant to train English language learners for jobs as community health workers, in order to both open up access to health care careers for English language learners and cultivate a culturally competent workforce fully equipped to serve the diverse patient populations of the New York metropolitan area.

This is one of just six partnerships between community colleges and human services nonprofits nationwide selected to participate in Kresge’s Boosting Opportunities for Social and Economic Mobility for Families (BOOST) initiative.

“Having health care professionals that reflect the community they serve is vital to ensure that an individual’s health information is accurately and efficiently relayed, which can involve both linguistic and cultural knowledge. Not only does this program benefit patients, it also helps recent immigrants and other English language learners find well-paying jobs—making it a win-win for all, and a model for other colleges and community organizations,” said LaGuardia Community College Interim President Paul Arcario. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Commonpoint Queens to make this program available for some of the most vulnerable populations in Queens, and are grateful for the Kresge Foundation’s generous support that is making this possible.”

“We couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity provided by the Kresge Foundation, and we’re looking forward to partnering with our colleagues at LaGuardia Community College. It is our mission to improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, and this initiative will help us provide critical resources to traditionally underserved populations in our borough,” said Commonpoint Queens CEO Danielle Ellman. “As a human services agency we feel strongly that it is our responsibility to ensure that all community members have access to meaningful employment opportunities. This funding will enable more than 200 immigrants with the language and vocational skills needed to achieve their aspirations and succeed in the labor market.”

Through BOOST, Kresge aims to connect students with critical human services supports to help them successfully juggle work, family and school, and people served by human services nonprofits with educational opportunities that lead to careers that help them support their families.

In addition to the direct services provided through the grant, both LaGuardia and Commonpoint will advance organizational and institutional change initiatives:

• LaGuardia’s Literacy Zone and Community Partner Network initiatives will be enhanced through the development and implementation of a system for tracking and improving referrals across community partners and LaGuardia programs.

• Commonpoint will develop a system to track services to family units in addition to individuals in order to better serve multiple generations in a holistic fashion.

“By bringing human services nonprofits that aspire to use strong two-generation, whole family approaches together with community colleges, we can eliminate the barriers that limit access to higher education and create career pathways that move families up the social and economic ladder,” said Raquel Hatter, managing director of Kresge Human Services Program.

This opportunity builds on work that LaGuardia has been leading over the last decade:

• The partnership between LaGuardia and Commonpoint Queens, which was first developed through LaGuardia’s Literacy Zone and Community Partner Network, which strengthens our relationships with community partners across the City and region.

• The Community Health Worker for English Language Learners program augments on LaGuardia’s experience as a key provider of community health worker training over the last 10 years, supporting a shift towards patient engagement, population health, prevention and chronic disease management across the healthcare sector. This experience includes the launch of a nationally recognized community health worker registered apprenticeship with SEIU1199 and BronxCare, an articulation to credit agreement with the Human Services associate degree program at LaGuardia, and strong relationships with employers across the sector.

• LaGuardia has been on the cutting edge of the development of bridge programming that combines English language education with vocational skills training, including the NCLEX for Internationally Trained Nurses and Bilingual Medical Assistant Training Programs.

In addition to grant funding, BOOST grantees and partners will convene annually, participate in a cross-site evaluation and receive technical assistance from JFF, a national nonprofit organization that will serve as the foundation’s management and learning partner. For more information on BOOST, visit

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs . LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part 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 championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.

Commonpoint Queens is a human services organization that helps individuals and families of diverse backgrounds find support, connections and opportunities during all stages of their lives. Guided by the Jewish values of service and justice for six decades, the agency has a range of programs at 52 sites across Queens, assisting 50,000 people each year. To learn more, go to



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