The Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) aims to provide a space where students and teachers enjoy going. They offer classes in English, sewing, preschool, citizenship, and computing. They also train people who can help immigrants navigate the health care system. Once an English student, Marisol Vargas now works in ALP’s finance department. She says, “For me it is not work, because I love my job.” Marisol is one example of the positive impact this organization has on the lives of immigrants, refugees, and the entire community.
According to ALP Executive Director Polly Smith, Frances Jones created the organization in 1974. She led a group of volunteers serving 20 students. Initially, they taught English speakers how to read and write, but now among other subjects they also teach English as a foreign language. ALP currently teaches more than 200 students, of whom approximately 40% come from Latin America. The organization has a small team of paid employees and is supported by volunteers who teach or help in other ways. ALP offers training to volunteers twice a year and its doors are always open to those who want to contribute. Polly says that there is no specific time to learn a language as each person comes from different circumstances.
Program Director Lori Pickett explains the main programs they offer.
The Family Literacy Program provides English classes at different levels. Classes may be book-based, or multi-level, and not book-based.
Ready for Kindergarten is part of the Family Literacy for Preschools program for children ages 3 to 5. Through the program, the children’s parents or guardians can take English classes while the children are in preschool.
Burlington Health Career Classes, conducted in collaboration with Providence Hospital, train people to work in the health sector as Patient Care Assistant (PCA) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). This program also instructs Peer Leader Navigators, who help immigrants understand health-related information and interact with the health care system. “These people make accessible correct information in the client’s language,” says Marisol Vargas, who is also part of this program.
The classes last two and a half months and cost $50, plus the books. Scholarships can be given to those who qualify. Tuition is based on each student’s financial situation. The Burlington Health Careers Class costs $48 for six months; however, this class usually has a waiting list. For more information on classes and prices you can go to the ALP’s offices or call (907) 337-1981.
In Alaska Literacy Program students come to learn, but they also make friends and find support. Preschoolers learn their first letters and meet their first friends. In ALP, everyone is welcome.
The next registration dates are:
February 28, March 1 and 6, from 9 a.m. to noon
May 30 and 31, from 9 a.m. to noon
Address: 1345 Rudakof Circle, Suite 104 Anchorage, AK 99508.