OCF Grant Supports Volunteer Tutor Coordinator & English Education Expansion
Africa Blasco Campos arrived in Bend from Spain just under one year ago. She was preparing to take a job as an au pair in a community she did not recognize with a language unfamiliar to her. After spending a few months practicing her English independently, she learned about Central Oregon’s Latino Community Association (LCA) where she was connected with a tutor. LCA’s adult tutoring services were recently expanded with help from a $21,500 grant to support a new full-time volunteer tutor coordinator. The grant has helped the program grow from 80 to 110 adult students and expand tutoring services to Crook and Jefferson Counties.
LCA tutor Lisa Morton is now partnering with Blasco Campos to focus on pronunciation of words as well as American idioms that might arise on a daily basis. The two work for an hour and a half together each week while the children Blasco Campos cares for — ages two and three months — nap in the afternoon.
Morton had only lived in Bend for one year before becoming a tutor with LCA, but she was looking for a way to give back.
“I wanted to find a way to help people who want to immigrate here have a smooth transition to a new life,” said Morton.
Blasco Campos recognizes just how impactful having a tutor has been for her.
“Working with Lisa has absolutely helped me. I feel more comfortable, more secure when I go to different places in town. It all happens because of Lisa,” said Blasco Campos.
More recently, Morton has been helping Blasco Campos study for her International English Language Testing System exam, a European standard for proficiency in English, so that she can qualify for a graduate degree program in Germany in the future.
According to LCA Executive Director Brad Porterfield, the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) has been a valuable partner.
“OCF has been our most reliable funding partner at each stage of our growth as our organization develops. We’ve grown from a staff of two in Bend to a staff of ten serving Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson Counties with 150 volunteers,” said Porterfield.
Porterfield and LCA are now reaching a wider community of people and assisting them in vital ways by providing citizenship classes, employment assistance, English classes, tutoring and healthcare assistance.
According to Morton, LCA has wide reaching impacts across Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes Counties.
“LCA helps to establish a link, a sense of community and a sense of safety among people who are trying to build lives in Central Oregon,” Morton said. “For immigrants in the United States, knowing their rights, knowing how to navigate the language is hugely impactful and helps to build confidence. LCA is working hard to provide a comprehensive support system for immigrants in Central Oregon,” said Morton. In addition to tutoring, Morton plans to begin teaching a citizenship course with LCA in the near future.
For Blasco Campos, her goal of earning a degree would not have been possible without the services that LCA provides in the Central Oregon community. She sees incredible value in LCA’s adult tutoring program.
“Tutoring is very useful for adults, because adults don’t have the same opportunities as young students to learn the language and culture. If an adult doesn’t speak fluent English it can be very hard for them. Tutoring is a very valuable resource for adults who want to learn,” said Blasco Campos.
LCA continues to grow and expand in order to make Central Oregon a welcoming community.
“Growth is always a challenge and OCF has played a critical role in ours. They are a partner we can count on,” said Porterfield.