ESL Works, founded by Rachael Nemeth of The New School’s master’s program in TESOL, was selected for the 2018-2019 Catalyst cohort at Blue Ridge Labs, a six-month social impact accelerator within the Robin Hood Foundation. Selected from a pool of 80 applicants, ESL Works is a mobile English language instructional platform that provides pathways to economic opportunity for workers in the food industry. The U.S. food industry employs 22 million people, one in five of whom don’t speak English as a first language and, as a result, can’t move up professionally or financially. ESL Works has developed a text-delivered, English-for-work program that’s paid for by employers. They aim to extend into other verticals and be a leading provider of accessible, affordable, work-relevant English training for the U.S. workforce.
Rachael initially piloted her idea at Gramercy Tavern in New York City and quickly expanded the program to other Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants. After founding ESL Works in 2016, she and her team began working with groups, such as Make it Nice (Eleven Madison Park, Nomad) and Citarella Gourmet Grocers. To learn more about the early work of ESL Works, read this blog entry.