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Community Impact: Interlocking Communities by Teaching the Language

Anonprofit organization in Lawrenceville, Interlocking Communities Inc. helps children and adults in Gwinnett County learn the English language in order to better navigate their way through school and work.

Interlocking Communities does this through two programs: an academic-based, after-school program for students in Gwinnett County Public Schools and the English Language Learner (ELL) program, which started 15 years ago as an outreach to adults in Gwinnett neighborhoods that had evolved into highly transient, low-income, international communities.

“The overwhelming majority of our students come from low socioeconomic families who are struggling to survive,” says Executive Director Louise Radloff. “Many of our students are illiterate in their own language and need help learning the English language. We help them learn English in order to close the learning gap so they can get and maintain a job and help guide their children through the school system.”

Interlocking Communities serves all Title One elementary schools within Gwinnett County Public Schools, two charter schools and high-risk students in other Gwinnett County elementary schools. Adult family members of these students are served by the ELL program, which provides certified teachers and two computer labs equipped with Rosetta Stone software to teach adults English and computer skills. Classes are offered on Sunday afternoons during the school year with attendance averaging 50 adult students; a total of about 100 adults are served each year. All services are free.

“Our students are better able to work with their children’s teachers and keep up with their child’s activities and friends, and they are better able to communicate on the job,” says Radloff. “Ultimately, the knowledge gained correlates with a better standard of living and with the successful graduation of their children from high school.”

The Jackson EMC Foundation in June granted the organization $15,000 for the ELL program to replace 10-year-old text- and workbooks, to hire two additional part-time instructors and to install support technology when Interlocking Communities moves to a new location later this year. For more on Interlocking Communities, visit www.ICIEducates.org.