Two grants will allow Holyoke Community College's Adult Learning Center in Ludlow to expand its English as a Second Language instruction services and a special career readiness program for unemployed and underemployed adults.
The first grant, from the Adult and Community Learning Services division of the Massachusetts Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education, will provide the Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center $256,938 a year for the next five years.
"That's very nearly double what we've had in the past," said Kermit Dunkelberg, program coordinator. "This is our primary source of funds for the services we provide for the community."
The grant will be used to add two morning ESL classes at the center plus another morning ESL class at FutureWorks Career Center in Springfield. Previously, the center offered four ESL classes in the evening and only one in the morning.
"Now we will be able to offer all levels of ESL instruction at both times of day," Dunkelberg said. All core classes at the center include computer instruction, math instruction and college and career readiness training.
With the increase in classes, the center will be looking for 40-50 new students. Last year, the program served about 80 students. Dunkelberg said the plan is to start the new classes by Sept. 10. There are no residency requirements for ESL services at the center, only that applicants be refugees or immigrants and 17 years of age or older. Classes are free.
The second grant, which was awarded through the Hampden Regional Employment Board, will provide the center with $63,593 a year for two years, money that will be used to expand a career preparation class for unemployed and underemployed adults from 10 hours a week to 22½.
The focus of the class is on careers in health care, green jobs, precision manufacturing and early childhood education. The goal is to place people directly into jobs, job training programs or HCC's Adult Basic Education Transition to College and Careers program, which gets them ready for college.
"Anyone who can commit to 22½ hours a week is eligible," said Dunkelberg.
The Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center is located at 54 Winsor St., second floor, Ludlow. Anyone interested in classes can call (413) 585-0230 and ask for Barbara Paul.
Photos: (Left) A student at the Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center practices on the computer. (Right) Teacher Sue MacKay, standing, offers some tips.