The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (ILC) was founded in 1992 by Diane Portnoy, a certified teacher and teacher trainer. During the 1980’s, Diane worked at an adult education program in Peabody, Massachusetts, and witnessed the influx of immigrants and refugees coming into the state and into the program. She recognized the growing need statewide for more English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs for immigrants so they could take that critical first step in creating a new and prosperous life in America. In 1991, she decided to open her own school that would be an English-immersion program with intensive instruction, offered weekdays and free of charge.
The ILC was incorporated in January 1992 and opened its doors in Malden, Massachusetts, on November 9, 1992, with three teachers, 60 students, three classrooms and a waitlist of 80 applicants. The school grew quickly. In 1994, The ILC moved into its current facility at 442 Main Street. After several expansions, The ILC now occupies more than 20,000 square feet of space that includes nine classrooms, a 24-station computer lab and several offices. Since its inception, The ILC has educated more than 8,700 immigrants who come from 118 countries, reside in 81 Greater Boston communities and speak more than 68 languages. With a staff of 32 and many volunteers, the school offers a year-round continuum of English classes that serves those who are illiterate in their native languages to those preparing to enter college. The ILC admits students regardless of race, color, religion, national and ethnic origin or disability. The school is fully enrolled with 425 students and currently maintains a waitlist of more than 500 applicants. Two-thirds of ILC students have a high school diploma from their native countries and one-third have graduate and advanced degrees. As a result of learning English at The ILC, students report accomplishments such as finding jobs, moving from part-time to full-time employment, receiving job promotions and raises, enrolling in training programs and colleges, starting businesses and becoming U.S. citizens.
After 9/11, The ILC expanded its mission in 2003 to educate the public about the positive impact immigrants have on the country, the economy and our communities. This initiative is known as the Public Education Institute. The ILC, its founder and staff have received numerous awards and recognition locally and nationally for outstanding service to the immigrant community and as a model adult education program.