City Opens English Learning And Support Centers In Immigrant Heavy Neighborhoods

March 27, 2024

Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) Commissioner Manuel Castro today launched MOIA English Learning and Support Centers.

The centers are located across the city to support long-time and recently-arrived immigrant New Yorkers learn English and get connected to city resources. Over one million of city funding will go to non-profit organizations and public library branches to launch the centers. 

“This program expands language access and helps give non-native English speakers the tools they need to thrive in their workplace, at school, and elsewhere around the city,” said Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, Anne Williams-Isom. “Thank you to MOIA and all our partners in this work reaching so many individuals and families through nonprofits and libraries across the city with this innovative curriculum.”  

“We are excited to launch MOIA’s English Learning and Support Centers, expanding the city’s existing efforts in adult literacy programs,” said Commissioner of MOIA, Manuel Castro. “For our office, it is important to empower both newly arrived immigrants and longtime immigrants, to take beginner level English classes, learn about city resources, and connect with other students, all in their neighborhood.”


The MOIA English Learning and Support Centers will connect immigrant New Yorkers to beginner and intermediate level English classes. The centers will use We Speak NYC, an award-winning curriculum developed by the city of New York as a tool to teach English and educate New Yorkers on city resources and services. The centers will also support immigrant new Yorkers by providing more information on resources introduced in the classes, making referrals to social and legal services, and acting as a hub for English language learning in their communities.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs began working with 10 immigrant serving community-based organizations to launch the English Learning and Support Centers. The organizations selected represent a diverse group with an extensive reach to immigrant New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Each organization provides cultural and linguistic services to immigrant New Yorkers. The following organizations will serve as centers:

  • Life of Hope
  • Mexican Coalition
  • Muslim Community Network
  • Mixteca
  • Project New Yorker
  • Korean Community Services (KCS)
  • United Sikhs
  • DSI International, Inc.
  • La Colmena
  • Laal NYC

This program has also been extended to 60+ branches of the Queens Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and New York Public Library. Each library will receive funding to support the implementation of English Learning and Support Center classes, expanding current use of the We Speak NYC curriculum and providing increased support for connecting learners to City resources.

In addition to the launch of the centers, the We Speak NYC curriculum will also roll out three new episodes of its award-winning series, with support from the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice. Each episode provides authentic and relevant stories of immigrant New Yorkers overcoming obstacles with the help of City services and the support of their communities. The topics covered in the new episodes include environmentalism, tenant rights, and enrolling in health insurance.

In efforts to increase language access, MOIA has also provided subtitles for We Speak NYC episodes in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Nepali, Polish, Russian, Simplified/Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Urdu, and Wolof.

For more information on how to access MOIA’s new English Learning and Support Centers and our award-winning curriculum, visit www.nyc.gov/wespeaknyc.

“The Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit is thrilled to announce our support for the MOIA English Learning Center as well as the release of two new episodes in the upcoming season. These episodes will spotlight the Tenant Helpline and GetCoveredNYC program, showcasing PEU’s dedicated housing and healthcare outreach efforts,” said Adrienne Lever, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit. “Language stands as a cornerstone of community in New York City, and by expanding access to vital resources, we aim to bolster benefit outreach to eligible New Yorkers.”

“The New York Public Library has been a trusted resource for immigrants for generations. As part of that long tradition, we are proud to announce today that we are partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to offer enhanced opportunities through English Learning and Support Centers at libraries throughout the city. This work builds on the equitable and free access to services our branches are known for, including ESOL and citizenship classes, bilingual storytimes and programs, and materials in other languages. Through these and so much more, libraries ensure that New Yorkers receive the vital resources they need to succeed,” said Anthony W. Marx, President of The New York Public Library.

“The library is often the first stop for new immigrants and our free English language classes have never been in greater demand,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “I extend my thanks to Mayor Adams and Commissioner Castro. With their support, we can double the number of English classes we offer, providing a vital service for the newest New Yorkers.”

“Libraries are a gateway for immigrants, providing vital services like free English classes, citizenship assistance, coping skills, and other resources as they adjust to their new lives in New York City,” said Dennis M. Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Public Library. “We are grateful for this important opportunity to expand and deepen our work to support new Americans in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.”

“We are so proud to partner with MOIA English Learning Center to expand our innovative adult literacy program to provide support services for new migrants who face integration challenges and need a higher level of support,” said Porez Luxama, Executive Director of Life of Hope. “We see ourselves as the hope in our community and for the people who face obstacles like poverty and access to resources. Together, we are going to serve them so that down the road, they can succeed on their own. It is our duty to clear the path for generations to come.”

“La Colmena is excited to partner with the MOIA English Learning and Support Center to launch the We Speak NYC curriculum in Staten Island,” said Arlette Cepeda, Deputy Director of La Colmena. “As La Colmena, we have seen many new arrivals come to our center and providing this ESL support to them, it sure has become another valuable resource to them. Through this partnership not only are we providing this ESL support but also other much needed services — but most importantly providing them with a community where they can feel as a Staten Islander.”

“In a city as vibrant and diverse as New York, education serves as a bridge, connecting newly arrived immigrants to opportunities that enhance their quality of life. At the Muslim Community Network, we are acutely aware of the trauma and barriers that many face upon arrival. Through the launch of the MOIA English Learning and Support Centers, we are granted the beautiful opportunity to address these challenges head-on with education and access to literacy. We are deeply thankful for the chance to contribute to this initiative, which not only enriches the lives of immigrant New Yorkers but strengthens the fabric of our communities through the power of understanding and communication,” said Husein Yatabarry, Executive Director, Muslim Community Network.

“As a community-based organization serving both the Korean and Hispanic-speaking communities, KCS is dedicated to continually empowering new immigrants in Queens and surrounding areas. Our partnership with the MOIA English Learning and Support Centers embody our commitment to bridging language barriers and providing essential resources to immigrant New Yorkers. Through these centers, KCS offers tailored English classes designed to meet the specific needs of immigrant learners,” said Myoungmi Kim, CEO & President of Korean Community Services. “Beyond language instruction, these centers serve as hubs for connecting immigrants to up-to-date vital health, legal, and workforce services. By facilitating access to crucial information and support systems, including healthcare, legal rights, and employment opportunities, KCS plays a pivotal role in fostering inclusion and integration within our diverse communities. Our collaboration with MOIA and other partner organizations reflects our shared vision of enhancing the economic, civic, and social integration of immigrant New Yorkers and advocating for continued immigration reforms. We are committed to sustaining and expanding this vital initiative, ensuring that all immigrants can thrive and succeed in their new home.

“Mixteca is deeply grateful to be one of MOIA’s English Learning Centers,” said Lorena K, Executive Director of Mixetca. “We are honored to be playing a key role in this community driven effort. We Speak NYC curriculum not only teaches English but also connects learners with city resources and helps them integrate and find the support they need.”

“Project New Yorker is excited to join Mayor Adams’ initiative in establishing MOIA English Learning and Support Centers! These invaluable classes and resources will greatly aid immigrants across New York City. Picture the ability to learn English, access city services, and get information about important resources, all within a nurturing environment. It’s a game-changer for newcomers, fostering a sense of belonging and community integration. We eagerly anticipate the profound positive transformations within our neighborhoods,” said Afsana Monir, Founder and Executive Director at Project New Yorker.

Photo credit: Harlem World Magazine.



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