In Sarasota, Goodwill Expands JobsPlus Language Program

In December 2020, MacKenzie Scott made a $10 million gift to Goodwill Manasota, allowing the organization to launch new programs and expand existing ones to better serve the community. The Goodwill in Sarasota, FL, is now expanding the scope of its JobsPlus Language program to hire, train and retain up to 10 workers with no, or extremely limited, English fluency.

The overall goals of the JobsPlus Language program are: to serve 50 limited English proficiency team members, to graduate 10 JPL team members into other job slots and additional job skills training programs, to provide an internal pathway to better wages, and to offer an immersion model that can improve overall English proficiency in Manatee County.

According to U.S. Census data, a language other than English is spoken at home in nearly 18 percent of households in Manatee County (between 2015-2019, for ages 5+). Numerous studies indicate that English fluency is critical to succeeding in school and on the job in the U.S. Language limitations also impact one’s ability to secure necessary resources and access needed services, and provide support for children in the home. Not only is spoken fluency important, but the ability to read is also critical, particularly as more and more of our lives become dependent on online resources.

In the past, Goodwill Manasota required all job candidates to be able to understand a simple conversation in order to interview. Now, with additional bilingual staff support and on-the-clock classes and resources, workers will have access to wraparound services that support them during and outside of work. This will provide employment opportunities to those who would have been ineligible under previous criteria, help them advance into better-paying opportunities, become more self-sufficient, and strengthen their families. Goodwill will continue to welcome referrals from community partners for those seeking employment-related assistance.

“As a learning organization, we are committed to helping those who seek to better their prospects for work and life,” said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. “English-language fluency is crucial to success in education, employment, health care, and relationships. We are excited to see the advancements that our JobsPlus Language program participants will be making in the coming months.”

Prior to the program expansion, Goodwill had approximately 40 team members with limited English proficiency working in various roles. The new hires are now starting their tenure at Goodwill’s Logistics department, working as apparel processors. Partner agency Manatee Literacy Council has added a brand-new class to existing offerings for “Absolute Beginners.” The new JobsPlus Language program hires will not only have the support of bilingual supervisors and GoodPartner Coaches while being immersed in English speaking opportunities at work, they will also participate in two 90-minute “Absolute Beginners” classes each week – while on the clock.

The JobsPlus Language program manager is Yolanda Garcia, who has worked for Goodwill since October of 2019. She is responsible for supporting the English-language training program and information and referral services; boosting retention through comprehensive needs assessments; and providing a full array of case management services with outcomes focused on career development and advancement, homeownership, and strengthening families. Support is provided by production team leader coach Dora Talamantes, who supervises the JPL team members, ensures they feel comfortable with their job duties, and helps them practice speaking English.

For more about Goodwill, go to or call (941) 355-2721.

This story is reposted with permission from Goodwill Manasota. Visit the Goodwill Manasota website for more local news.