Immigrants living Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island were the beneficiaries of a New York City Councils Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI) to the tune of $100,000 as part of a greater funding award of $4.5 million Citywide to help local not for profit community organizations continue to educate the nations newest wave of immigrants.
The presentation was made in Jackson Heights on Tuesday February 8 at the offices of Make the Road New York, one of the three beneficiaries who shared this award. Attending the press conference were representatives from the four local organizations operating their programs in Councilman Daniel Dromms 25TH council district (25CD) in Queens and who will share the $100,000 award. They groups named to receive the money are: Make the Road New York, Ecuadorian International Center, Queens Community House which service a mostly Latino Spanish speaking population and Sheba USA, whose main focus is to assist low-income South Asian immigrant populations. The 25th Council District has the largest percentage of immigrants living in the Borough of Queens communities that make up the district which include, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, LeFrak City, Rego Park, and Woodside. Its estimated that about 65% of the District is made up of new immigrant arrivals.
In spite of the budgetary woes of the City, Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the City Council Immigration Committee, rallied the support of his colleagues on the Council to fund the program designed to help community organizations to help immigrants through educational and other social service programs. Mayor Bloomberg cut the IOI program by $5 million last year but Dromm and his supporters voted back $4.5 million to the delight of the organizations and the immigrants taking classes with them. The money will go to fund adult education classes including adult classes in ESL.
At the check presentation ceremony held at the offices of Make the Road on Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights Council Member Dromm said, These services are essential to our immigrant communities here in our area. That is why I made saving IOI funding a top priority. The people that have the least are the ones affected the most in difficult economic times and they are always the last ones to recover. We need to ensure that they are given the opportunities and the resources necessary to become fully integrated in our society and pursue the American dream. Dromm added, I am proud to provide organizations that are fully committed to our immigrant people with the means to do just that. "It is wonderful that City Council Member Daniel Dromm has arranged for Sheba USA to receive IOI funding, said Executive Director Tamanna Yasmin, adding, As you all know our main focus is to provide free basic English, computer, tax prep courses to all immigrants with a special focus on empowering women.
Make the Road Deputy Director Javier Valdes indicated that the lines for classes are out the door with long waiting lists to attend the dozens of classes offered each day. The demand to learn English is greatest in the Latino Spanish speaking immigrant communities of the city with only 3 % of the 1.23 immigrant adults able to speak the language. We service more than 500 adult learners daily with hundreds turned away through a lottery system to fill the seats. When asked what he would do with additional money if available Mr. Valdez replied, I would increase the number of student we could service. We applaud Council Member Dromm for his steadfast effort in securing these funds for our district., said Veronica Piedra, Deputy Director of Ecuadorian International Center.
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