La Alianza Hispana, a nonprofit based in Roxbury that has a center in Mission Hill, is on the brink of closing its English Language Learning program following the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) decision to cut the organization’s funding.
At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley has been advocating on behalf of La Alianza. An appeal hearing with DESE is scheduled for Sept. 11 and Pressley has asked for a City Council hearing to assess the state of adult education in the city for the fall.
“We were defunded without prior notice, without corrective action,” La Alianza spokesperson Hanoi Reyes said. The DESE “did not give specific reasons on why we lost the funding.”
“Our objective was to fund the programs that are the most effective in helping students achieve their goals,” DESE spokesperson C.J. Considine said. “This was a highly competitive process.”
“I think it’s long overdue that we put that advocacy for adult education front and center. This is not only about stabilization of family, equitable opportunity and upward mobility. It’s about setting the example of being a lifelong learner,” Pressley told the Gazette.
Of the 31 organizations that applied for new or continued funding, 22 received it. Six of the nine that did not receive funding were previously funded by DESE, Considine said.
The free adult English Language Learning program has been serving Latinos in the Mission Hill/Roxbury area for over 25 years, Reyes said. The next closest agency that provides a similar service is a women-only agency in Mattapan.
Mission Hill’s La Alianza center is located at 63 Parker Hill Ave. and is a senior social and recreation center. It will remain open.
“Most of the population we serve cannot afford to pay for classes,” Reyes said. “For every student taking a class, there are two more on a waiting list.”
In support of the English classes, La Alianza also helps students set goals, prepare for college, and get licenses—services that will also be lost if the de-funding is permanent.
“If we don’t offer these services, it really impacts their lives,” Reyes said.
“The Department worked with La Alianza Hispana to ensure that students were able to transition to a Department-funded Community Adult Learning Center and address issues related to the termination of its grant,” Considine said. “The department extended the program’s grant through July 31 to help support these activities.”