SEA Literacy was founded in 2011 by Bob Heffernan in response to the need for academic tutoring and cultural mentorship of refugee children from Burma, also called Myanmar, who now reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The refugee families fled their country to save their lives, escaping ethnic conflict which has existed for decades. Over 1,000 refugees live in the Milwaukee area. Most of them are ethnic minorities from Burma. SEA Literacy began when Bob, a landlord, noticed his refugee tenants were largely isolated from the larger Milwaukee community, the children’s school grades were woefully inadequate, and their English proficiency was not progressing. Captivated by the Burmese families’ humble, grateful nature and their indomitable spirit, Bob was compelled to help.
We primarily focus on assisting students with homework, ESL(English as a second language) activities, and developing social skills.
We began as a handful of individuals helping a group of 10 refugee kids with their homework and giving impromptu English lessons. Today, SEA Literacy serves around 80 active students with homework help, advanced tutoring, and whole-language based ESL projects.