Connecting people and promoting personal development for youth and adults, that is the mission of the Learning Helps Foundation! Four questions for Monique Deenik, founder of TopTaal and the foundation.
For what purpose was the foundation established?
'With the Learning Helps Foundation! I want to contribute to equal opportunities for everyone. Whether adults or children, everyone must have similar opportunities to develop within society. We assume that development increases your chances and I think it is extremely important that equal opportunities exist for everyone, regardless of social and economic background, education level, work experience, age, and gender. Someone who speaks the language is more likely to be healthy and happy, to play a greater role in society, to find work faster and to be less likely to get into financial difficulties. That was the main reason for establishing the foundation. "
What kind of projects does the foundation carry out?
'One of the projects that we carry out is Samen weg weg met Taal! It is intended for non-western foreigners, including many refugees, but also for western foreigners. We deploy volunteers such as Taalmaatje. They talk for one and a half hours every week for three months, after a thorough intake, during which we look closely at the personal match. What is the background of the volunteer and the discussion partner? Where do they live, do they fit well together? These questions have led to long-term matches of duos who sometimes agree with each other for some time to practice the language. In addition, we have a Language Café where foreign speakers can go to practice Dutch every week. This is a safe environment in which people can make mistakes. Almost half of the visitors are TopTaal students; the others have just come in and keep coming if they like it there. "
Do you execute the projects alone or in collaboration with other parties?
'We work together with organizations such as Taal voor het Leven, Blik op Werk, the Amsterdam Volunteer Center, Amsterdam Cares and ViiA. In addition, the Reading and Writing Foundation also contributes. We ourselves provide the volunteer coordinator. This is responsible for setting up and executing the process of recruitment, selection, matching, training, guidance and support for volunteers on various processes.
Are you satisfied with the results of the Foundation so far?
'Not really satisfied yet, because our goal is ambitious. But we are taking small steps. The time you have at your disposal is always limited. Moreover, running a non-profit foundation works completely differently from running a business. It is more complex. We are now trying to qualify for funds so that we can make the foundation bigger. And we are looking at whether we can get subsidies from municipalities. That way you immediately have a larger reach. What makes us unique is that we know the world of foreigners well. We understand what they are up against, which makes us a suitable cooperation partner. So although I am not yet 100 percent satisfied with what we have achieved so far, I certainly intend to put even more energy into the foundation and thereby ensure that we can offer even more people opportunities. We help them in the first place with learning the language, but we find them at least as important as familiarizing them in a country in a broad sense. "