In 1994, the SEIU-USWW union collaborated with responsible businesses and employers in Northern
California to pilot a workplace class in Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL). Hewlett Packard provided the first corporate contribution as a collaborative effort to provide
immigrant janitors with English language programs and workplace training. The evidence of a successful pilot program encouraged Hewlett Packard to outreach and recruit other Bay Area and Silicon Valley companies to host workplace training.
Forward six-years to the year 2000, BSP was officially born and expanded the training across the Bay Area. Evidence of a successful results-oriented training led to the business community to ask BSP to expand to other regions throughout the state. In 2007, BSP officially received recognition as a statewide tax exempt nonprofit.
To support with that expansion, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Greater Los Angeles adopted BSP as one of their official programs. BOMA is the leadership group of premiere commercial real estate owners and management companies focused on actively representing and promoting the interests of the commercial real estate industry.
The export of BSP’s programming statewide, in particularly the ADVANCE Program, is a testimony to the results our business partners have seen from the trainings. Janitors achieve higher levels of English, customer service and other job skills and as a direct result are promoted to daytime, supervisor, utility, building maintenance, and other higher paid building service positions. Additionally, though fewer than 30% of BSP’s participants have been formally educated beyond 6th grade in their native countries, BSP courses consistently achieve impressive student attendance and graduation rates of more than 90% when service workers are given this second (or sometimes first) chance at education.
BSP’s originators understood that learning English is the fundamental step to acquiring individual success, and in becoming engaged in the community. BSP’s success is a tribute to the vision of the founders who agreed to develop a worksite class model that provided instruction during paid-work time to help workers overcome traditional learning obstacles, such class schedules, family obligations, transportation issues, lack of childcare, second and third jobs, and numerous other challenges associated with adjusting to a new country and culture. With support from various corporate and community funders interested in training the hardest to reach, BSP also now offers classes such as computer literacy, citizenship, health and wellness, basic literacy, and workshops to train parents to better support their children’s educational success.