AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A grant of $121,000 from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been awarded to the Jones Library’s ESL Center to provide beginning-level ESL and citizenship instruction to older immigrants.

USCIS awarded 12 innovation grants to organizations across the country that encourage civic, linguistic, and cultural integration of immigrants and prepare immigrants for naturalization.  Through Innovation Grants, innovative citizenship education and creative approaches will be encouraged to prepare immigrants for naturalization, including those who have historically been marginalized, including the elderly, and those with limited educational opportunities.

Practical speaking skills, social integration, and functional literacy are the focus of the class offered at the Jones Library. This “age-friendly” curriculum will be developed by Lynne Weintraub and field-tested in program locations across the US before being disseminated to other elder-serving programs. A free “senior beginner” ESL class is currently available for beginning-level immigrants who are 50+ (including those with limited educational backgrounds) at the library.