Through a renewed grant, Foundation for Roanoke Valley is supporting Virginia Western Community College in its endeavor to help non-native individuals living in the Roanoke Valley hone their English skills.

The Katherine Nelson Fishburn Foundation Fund is providing $1,000 to the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation to reduce tuition costs for area students taking the English as a Second Language (ESL) class. The college’s ESL class has helped students from more than 35 different countries learn language skills and become successful members of the Roanoke community.

“This course is truly a lifeline for non-native residents working to better themselves and support their families. We constantly strive to make such opportunities affordable and accessible at Virginia Western,” said Elizabeth Wilmer, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, which administers the ESL course. “The continued support of Foundation for Roanoke Valley means this class can keep reaching the people who need it the most.”

The ESL class is offered as a non-credit course at a fixed rate of $85 per semester to reduce the cost to students, many of whom would normally pay the out-of-state tuition rate of $621.38 for a one-hour credit course. Funding to offset the cost of student tuition is provided by student fees and private sources. State General Fund tax dollars are not used for the program.

As the Roanoke Valley’s limited English proficiency (LEP) population continues to grow, the class teaches students basic conversational English, basic grammar and writing skills, and social and cultural literacy skills. It also prepares individuals for employment or for becoming a future Virginia Western student.