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State awards grant to Mattapan Family Center

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Center prepares to meet high demand for GED, ESOL programs; residents seek education as pathway to economic opportunity

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has awarded $175,000 annually for five years to Action for Boston Community Development’s (ABCD) Mattapan Family Service Center to provide GED and English for Speakers of Other Languages programs.

Low-income residents of Mattapan and other communities emphasize that access to basic education programs is vital to their ability to get jobs, build careers and improve their lives and the lives of their children.

In the past, the Mattapan programs funded by the DESE have served 80 to 100 residents every year.

ABCD President and CEO John J. Drew said he is gratified that funding for this all-important program has come through.

“Without these classes, the residents of one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods are in danger of being lost to America,” Drew said. “Learning English and getting educational credentials are critical steps in building a life in this country.”

Mattapan FSC Executive Director Milagros Arbaje-Thomas said this grant is particularly important in Mattapan, where there are no other funded GED or ESOL programs.

“We have many residents who dropped out of school and now see that they need that GED to get a foothold in the work world or go to college,” she said. “And Mattapan is home to many immigrants, with the majority of Caribbean or Haitian heritage. Numerous Haitian residents came to Mattapan after the earthquake and are seeking to rebuild their lives. They desperately need basic educational opportunities.”

ABCD also provides GED and ESOL programs in Roslindale and the North End.