Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

Queens Library Foundation, Inc.

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

November 2011

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

January 1, 2008 – May 17, 2010


Immigrants and American-born individuals with low literacy skills are among those nationwide who experience the harmful consequences of low health literacy.

According to the Queens Library Foundation, the borough of Queens, New York is home to more than one million foreign-born residents who speak 161 distinct languages. Nearly 300,000 residents speak English “not well” or “not at all.” These new immigrants are among the most vulnerable in the health care system. In January 2008, the New York Health Foundation (NYHealth) awarded a $200,000 grant to support the Queens Library Foundation in institutionalizing a health literacy program that had been started with funding from the Langeloth Foundation. Know Better-Feel Better targets low-level English language learners – those who begin with little or no English skills. Queens Library knows of no other such curriculum nationwide for this population.

Throughout the grant period, the Queens Library Adult Learner Beginning Level Health Literacy Curriculum was distributed at conferences and via online links. Lesson plans, accompanying student worksheets, and audio files are online and freely available to the public.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Offered 18 Beginning Health Literacy classes that enrolled 390 low-level English language learners.
  • Refined the curriculum developed during the program’s pilot period and developed their own assessment tool, designing it to more closely reflect the curriculum and learners’ goals.
  • Implemented the assessment tool during the second year of the program, during which 10 Beginning Health Literacy classes were conducted, serving 226 English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners.
  • Conducted focus groups at various program locations to gauge participants’ overall reaction on the Health Literacy classes.
  • Created two new full-time staff positions: a Health Literacy Coordinator and a Health Community Liaison.
  • Hosted two free daylong Health Literacy Conferences that drew approximately 115 participants each.