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Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders) is a community service-learning program that links college students with immigrants and refugees seeking to learn English and navigate the complex path to U.S. citizenship. Project SHINE began at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1997 in response to legislation that jeopardized the public benefits of legally immigrated non-citizens. Today, SHINE is operating at 25 colleges and universities in nine urban centers across the nation to the benefit of adult learners of all ages. In Minnesota, Project SHINE is a joint effort of Metropolitan State University and Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Locally, approximately 20 courses and 150 students are involved in Project SHINE each year.


As social safety nets for non-citizens remain tenuous, the naturalization of elderly immigrants continues to be an urgent concern. Older immigrants face particular obstacles in their quest for citizenship. Elder learners may experience difficulties learning English because of changes in memory, vision, hearing and mobility that are not easily accommodated in crowded ESL or citizenship classes. Without a basic knowledge of English, adult immigrants experience barriers to full participation as citizens.


Project SHINE also helps faculty members create links between classroom teaching and relevant field experience. It provides an opportunity to deepen studentsí theoretical understanding in a broad range of disciplines, including urban studies, anthropology, communications, ethnic studies, English, sociology, criminal justice studies, public policy, political science and history. Students gain knowledge of diverse cultures and life experiences, develop skills beyond the textbook, and find a powerful way to reinforce their academic studies.


Community Service-Learning Students 

  • Attend a training covering basic ESL tutoring techniques, working with adult learners, intercultural communication, immigration, and the United States naturalization process.
  • Complete a minimum of 20 hours of tutoring (or more for internships and practicums or field-based coursework) at one of our 20 Twin Cities community partner organizations.

Find out more here.


Twin Cities Community Partners

  • Match each university service-learner with adults who are studying English or preparing for the citizenship exam in one-on-one, small group or classroom settings.
  • Provide university service-learners with an overview of the organization including mission, activities and policies, and notification procedures in case of an emergency absence.
  • Serve as on-site supervisors to university students, including maintaining/confirming records of their hours and assisting them to learn from their experience.

Metropolitan State University Faculty

  • Thoughtfully integrate Project SHINE into relevant curricula, encouraging participating students to reflect on their experiences working with adult learners and relate these experiences to course material.
  • In concert with Project SHINE staff, resolve any difficulties that may arise for a student at his or her tutoring site.
  • Submit a copy of the course syllabus to the ICES Community Engagement Coordinator: Civic and Community-Based Learning.

Project SHINE Staff

  • Work to ensure that the above-mentioned expectations are fulfilled by all Project SHINE participants.
  • Coordinate orientation and training of all Project SHINE tutors before they begin.
  • Work with students to find a suitable tutoring site.
  • Mediate resolution to any issues that may arise in the course of tutoring.
  • Track university studentsí progress, including keeping records of studentsí sites, roles and hours and numbers of community learners served, and report this information regularly to participating instructors.
  • Act as a liaison to information about community service-learning pedagogy including workshops, sample syllabi and connections to faculty members who have successfully integrated this experience into their coursework.


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