Community nonprofit helps locals learn English and gain citizenship on Cinco de Mayo

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This year on Cinco de Mayo, 17 local Mexican restaurants in Humboldt county are partnering with English Express,  a nonprofit that helps individuals learn English as well as achieve citizenship. 

“What makes English express unique from other adult language programs at least in our community is that in addition to the language classes we offer citizenship support, and we brought on field trips because students were not aware of places of interest in Humboldt county, or special events that our community enjoys annually. We also wanted to make sure they had a connection to resources that they needed. So we put all of that into a program to help them create what their vision is of a successful life in Humboldt”, says Mary Ann Hytken, program leader of English Express. 

The program has also been successful in connecting families and helping them integrate into the community. 

“They were also asking for resources. So it’s a four pillar program with English, citizenship, field trips and connections to resources. And it’s the only program in Humboldt county to offer this to English language learners under one roof,” she says. 

“I enjoyed taking the classes to help my child because that’s what they’re learning in the schools at the time and I need to help with the homework”, says Maria Sandoval, co-owner of Luis’s restaurant in Eureka. 

Since its founding in 2016, English Express has taught students from 35 countries and helped 49 people achieve citizenship. 

“The program was developed based on student voices. They were asking in addition to English language instruction support for citizenship, they were also curious about their new home, Humboldt county. Places to see, events, so we created the field trips as part of our program”, says Hytken.

The English Express program is a Dream Maker project of the Ink People and is entirely free to join at https://englishexpressempowered.com/

Story by Tucker Caraway.