Community Engagement Grant Recipient: Brandi Snodgrass

Neighborhood Schools Program’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Tutoring Corps

Founded in 1976, the Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP) is one of the University of Chicago’s longest-standing community engagement and outreach programs. Run through the Office of Civic Engagement, NSP partners with local schools, public service offices, and local community organizations to identify and assess support needs. The program also develops long-term partnerships to place University of Chicago students in meaningful paid and volunteer positions. 

The Neighborhood Schools Program’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Tutoring Corps is a response to increased international enrollment in local partner schools. While NSP has offered support in Spanish, Mandarin, and Arabic, formal training for tutors and a curriculum to guide specialized support for second-language learners have never been developed. This new programming will enhance the tutoring services provided through NSP to better serve ESL students by creating trainings for ESL tutors, developing and identifying curriculum, and organizing family literacy and community building events, such as family meet-and-greets and cultural game nights for students and families participating in this initiative. 

The pilot launched in winter 2019 and will run through autumn 2019. NSP is still mapping out specific support and programming needs for each partner school, as well as developing a core team of student helpers. The program will initially focus on four local Chicago public schools and magnet schools, with 10 ESL tutors serving approximately 20 students. 

“The primary goal of NSP’s ESL Tutoring Corps is to create and formalize a robust program structure for a cohort of University students serving as tutors or classroom assistants supporting ESL students,” said Brandi Snodgrass, director of the Neighborhood Schools Program. “This project will allow University of Chicago students to apply their cultural experiences and knowledge of diverse languages to make a positive impact.” 

NSP will measure the success of the program through a quarterly assessment given to the homeroom teachers of the ESL students. This assessment will gauge how effective support has been after four weeks. Surveys will also be given to parents of the students to help gauge what additional support or opportunities might be beneficial. NSP staff members hope that the additional support provided by this program will greatly benefit local students. They anticipate the program will go on for years to come, expanding to more schools in the area and providing additional students with the resources they need.

“This project will allow University of Chicago students to apply their cultural experiences and knowledge of diverse languages to make a positive impact.”

Brandi Snodgrass