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Tools for Life | workshops

The Salvation Army
Tools for Life Program & ESL Computer Lab Summary

  • The Tools for Life Program exists to improve the lives of individuals and families in the Greater Portland area through various classes and services.  The program, in its sixth year, serves over 200 individuals annually providing an eleven week series of high quality life and career skills classes to give participants the tools they need to succeed.
  • Participants in the program come from a wide range of situations and places in life.  Most are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness within the past two years.  Participants are refugees, but most are recent immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.
  • Participants are referred to the program through a variety of sources including shelters and residential treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse.
  • The Tools for Life Program partners with local business professionals that volunteer to teach sessions relevant to their areas of expertise as well as acting as mentors to program participants.
  • The English as a Second Language (ESL) Computer Lab features the following criteria:
    • Ability to translate numerous languages to English
    • Allows individuals to progress at their own level and at their own pace
    • Provides instructors statistics to track the usage and the progress of both individuals and the group
  • The English as a Second Language (ESL) Computer Lab has been well used:
    • The first month: 46 different participants logged in and used the software for a total of 401 hours
    • There has been heavy usage of the Lab throughout the year.
    • New users continued to sign on throughout the year including in July 2018, we introduced 25 new participants to the lab and there have been more than 3,037 times that participants logged in to use the software.
  • The Tools for Life Program also offers participants personal assistance with addressing barriers they may face including securing IDs, work papers, preparing resumes, housing, childcare, and much more. 
  • Participants are given information on other services offered by The Salvation Army that may help alleviate some of these barriers, including ESL classes and lab, the food pantry, free childcare, coat/ clothing distribution, holiday and back to school assistance, and other basic needs assistance.
  • The program strives to provide whatever tools are needed to help participants improve their lives and achieve their goals of self-sufficiency.

Over the past year, more than 125 classes were conducted with a total attendance of more than 1600 participants. Last year, of the participants enrolled in the 11 week series of classes, over 62% of these individuals secured employment either during their time in the classes or within thirty days of completing the program.

For more information please call/email Mary Irace at (207) 245-3762 or