Contest Winner: Education in Every Language

On November 28th, 2016, the Humanitarian Social Innovations board of directors met to review submissions for the Lehigh Student Enterprise Plan Pitch Contest. The HSI sponsored contest asked Lehigh University students to submit a business plan for a social enterprise they wanted to bring to life. The three winners are to receive incubation and free application for fiscal sponsorship should they choose to move forward with their programs.

The first place winner of the Student Enterprise Contest is Education in Every Language— a program that will provide native-language tutoring to English Language Learning (ELL) elementary school students by pairing them with Lehigh University students of the same ethnic background.

Education in Every Language is the brainchild of Anastassiya Perevezentseva, Heather Wadyka, and Chelsea Cooper. The three women were motivated to create this program by a shared interest in education, and said they had noticed a need in the community for a mentorship program that not only provides English language tutoring, but also fosters cultural kinship for students that have smaller ethnic communities in Bethlehem.

“If a kid needs to know what a word is in Spanish, there will probably be five other kids in the class who can help him. But if a student speaks Chinese, there might only be one,” said Cooper.

Education in Every Language would like to set up their program with Donegan Elementary School on 4th Street in South Bethlehem, PA.

“Donegan has the exact makeup we need,” said Perevezentseva. This is due in part to Donegan being a community school that focuses on student development and works with community stakeholders to further their goal. Donegan already has a partnership with Lehigh University, which would ease the program’s incorporation.

Education in Every Language may be off to a rocky start. Cooper and Perevezentseva are to leave the country after this semester, which will leave most of the planning up to Wadyka. Even though she is facing a busy final semester, Heather will try to get the program off the ground and into capable hands before she graduates.