The Chinatown Literacy Project (CLP) is a weekend adult ESL program that offers Chinese-speaking English language learners individual, personalized instruction and the opportunity to practice conversation with youth volunteers free of charge. CLP is a school year project of Chinatown Youth Initiatives (CYI), a youth-oriented leadership program that seeks to foster civic engagement and develop leadership skills among young people in New York City.
The Chinatown Literacy Project, as a part of the CYI School-Year Program, has grown quickly and steadily since its founding in 2004-05. What began as a small idea proposed by various officers and participants of the Summer Program, has quickly expanded into a tight-knit community of volunteers and participants. Since its first year, it has worked with various community organizations such as Project REACH, the Abrons Arts Center at the historically-renowned Henry Street Settlement, and the the University Settlement. Chinatown Literacy Project is now in its eighth year of operation, in cooperation with the Lower East Side Preparatory High School. With new volunteers and coordinators to add to what has begun to feel like a family operation, the CLP community will continue to try and build on its original philosophy literacy should be accessible and available to all, and language is only the beginning of the cross-cultural exchange that can exist to people of different backgrounds.
CLP is founded on the beliefs that English language skills are essential for integration into an American society and its ideals of citizenship, that English proficiency should be accessible to all regardless of economic status or class, and that language exchange fosters interaction and communication across cultures and generations. In addition to language classes, CLP also holds workshops on community, immigration history, and civic issues for our youth volunteers, fostering a civic-minded approach to community and a greater awareness of broader social issues, including topics related to immigration and the immigrant community.
In addition to the three levels of classes–Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced–currently offered to the ESL students, CLP recently added the True Beginners level to satisfy the high demand by applicants for another class.
There are many capacities for involvement: Guest speakers; ESL teachers or partners; and financial and in-kind donations.