Pathways to Independence



IRWP connects isolated immigrants/refugee adults with the English and life skills education they need to participate in their new community, communicate with others, and understand their new cultures and its systems. Students in our program face numerous barriers to joining group classes and reaching resources in our area, including:

  • Fear / intimidation due to lack of communication skills and knowledge of systems in a new society

  • Lack of transportation or understanding of public transportation in our area

  • A deficit of childcare during class times outside of the home

  • Prohibitive work schedules to meet regular class offerings

  • Mental and/or physical traumas from past experiences

By sending a volunteer teacher directly to a student’s home, IRWP volunteers surmount these isolating factors and provide a safe space to learn, ask questions, grow, and meet goals.  


Because we work with such a diverse group of students, the impact can only be defined from each student’s starting point. Individualized lessons allow us to work with the particular challenges and needs that students face. Benefits to students include:

  • English speaking and listening comprehension to communicate with others

  • English literacy skills; for some students a first chance at literacy in any language

  • Reduction of a reliance on children, other family members, friends or interpreters to translate

  • Increase of self-confidence and reduction of self-consciousness and fear

  • Financial literacy and understanding of shopping, payments, and banking

  • Development of job-related vocabulary, soft skills and how to search for/apply for employment

  • Involvement in children’s education and help with homework

  • Knowledge of how to handle emergency situations and management of family health

  • Awareness of community resources and how to use them for individual needs

  • Work on specific goals such as studying for the U.S. Citizenship exam, driver’s license test, etc.

For a student who has never been literate in any language learning to read basic English can be life changing; enabling the student to read a map, basic instructions, prices, fill out forms, or even text their grandchildren. For a student who has had an education in their own country, learning with us can help them get their GED, go back to college, or get a job. As they progress in the program they are able to become more engaged in their community, form relationships, go to school, and become employed.