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About the Finalist:

"COFFEE Louisville is an organization founded in Louisville, Kentucky in June 2017. At COFFEE, we seek to teach English with excellence so newcomers are empowered to successfully use the language, navigate the culture, and flourish on a new path in this new place. Being located in an active refugee resettlement area, we serve adult learners from across the world, representing countries from Congo to Nepal to El Salvador. 

Our learners range from those who cannot read their own language and can't say anything in English except "thank you," to those who are pursuing citizenship and high school equivalency achievements."

Website: coffeelouisville.com




Edgar came to the United States 11 years ago. He washes dishes at a restaurant. He has a wife and three boys. And he cannot read.

If you know what it means for a Latin American man to admit to anything he cannot do, you can get an idea of what it meant for him to walk in the door with his wife who can read, and his children to can read, and tell us that he wanted to learn English, but he needed to learn to read. Our students are brave.

Lidia was brave enough to attempt a walk across the desert, four times, with her six-year-old daughter spurring her on. The daughter who hadn’t seen her father in five years. Who knew he was on the other side.

She has been here for ten years, and she wants to know how to respond to the man on the corner who tells her, "she needs to go back where she came from". She wants to know how to talk to the person who ran over her bicycle. She says that last year, her kindergarten son had to get help from his older sister with his reading homework. This year, Lidia can help him herself.

Nia was brave enough to flee the war in Iraq only to face war in Syria for years before spending time in Jordan and then finally finding a new home here, where she and her young son are two of the newest citizens of the United States. She’s eager to prepare to test for a high school equivalency so that she can open who knows what doors, now that she doesn’t have war swirling around her.

At COFFEE, we work with brave learners like these every week. Learners who lived in a refugee camp so long they seem to have forgotten where they’re actually from. Learners whose husbands or wives are still across a sea in an unknown situation, longing to be reunited with the ones they love. Learners who have come to our shores yearning to be free, to find that we have landlords who exploit people too, and we have cockroaches that infest apartments too, and we have jobs and schools and opportunities that will help them flourish, if they can get a handle on this thing called English.

COFFEE is a team of unpaid volunteers who work tirelessly to help this happen every week: trained ESL teachers, fun childcare workers, techy computer helpers. We hug them and we cry for them and we need materials for them. We could say we are ProLiteracy heroes, but heroes are brave, and the real brave ones are our students.

Learn more about other finalists, or vote for your ProLiteracy Hero!

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