Our Founders Luis and Maggie Iza immigrated from Cuba years ago. Their parents, who eagerly learned English and were avid readers, inspired them pursue education, learn English, and integrate into their new communities in the United States. Remembering the challenges they experienced when they first arrived to the United States, the founders started The Open Door to offer new Americans the opportunity to be part of mainstream society.
The Iza's studied the demographics of their hometown, West New York, NJ and learned that the city had experienced an large influx of immigrants over the years. Eighty percent of the population was Latino and sixty percent were foreign-born. The majority of West New York residents spoke very limited or no English. Due to their limited English language skills, recent immigrants faced urban challenges including poverty, unemployment and high school drop out rates.
Recognizing that the language barrier was a great risk factor for poverty and its effects, the Izas began The Open Door NJNY as an ESL program and later expanded it to offer computer classes and preparation classes for the high school equivalency exam. The Open Door NJNY opened a second location in New York in 2013 and now serves 450 students each year.
Meet the Open Door Team
Darren Schuringa, Gary Watanabe, Moses Lee, Vinnie Julia, Felipe Cifuentes, Caroline Grosshans