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Eastern Bank Donation Helps Fund Program for College Educated Immigrants

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September 18, 2017

Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn accepts a $10,000 check from Eastern Bank’s Daniel P. Hover, vice president of Eastern Bank Wealth Management.

Eastern Bank Donation Helps Fund Program for Immigrants with College Degrees

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, Northern Essex Community College will offer a 3-month program titled “English for Skilled Immigrants” designed for English Language Learners who hold college degrees from their home countries, but lack the language and literacy skills to work here in their chosen careers.

The program, which will begin in the spring, will be offered through Northern Essex’s Center for Adult Education Programs and Preparation at the Riverwalk campus in Lawrence, 360 Merrimack St.

Lawrence has seen an increase of up to 24 percent in the number of residents with college degrees, said Wendy Shaffer, dean of development at Northern Essex. “Because of language, credential recognition, and other barriers, many highly skilled, college-educated immigrants cannot contribute their academic and professional training and skills. As a result, they work in low-skilled, low-paying jobs or are unemployed.”

While NECC offers lower level ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes, often with sizeable waiting lists, faculty has found themselves teaching English Language Learner (ELL) students with college education alongside ELL adults with limited literacy skills. The same population with two separate, immediate needs.

These individuals are unable to work in their chosen and trained fields. “Tapping underutilized skills will have a positive impact on local and regional economies,” said Shaffer.

This program will combine classroom with online work and job search activities. There will be a blend of 9.5 hours of face-to-face ESOL and technology classes weekly and 4 to 6 hours of English practice using online English career modules. An employment services advisor will assist with resume writing, professional networking, mock job interviews, and help accessing ValleyWorks Career Center and community resources.

For additional information contact Irene Chalek, executive director of CAEPP at 978-659-1271 or

With campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence, Northern Essex Community College offers over 70 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Nearly 6,600 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 3,400 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  Northern Essex is the only state college located in the lower Merrimack Valley Region of Massachusetts. For more information, visit the website at
Ellen Small Davis
NECC Public Relations
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