The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to support the efforts of the America’s Languages Working Group in building the Guide to Exemplary Programs and Practices in U.S. Language Education—a means of expanding equitable access to language education in the U.S. The American Councils for International Education, one of the constituent organizations of the Working Group, was chosen to receive and administer the grant on behalf of its members.
John Tessitore, chair of the America’s Languages Working Group, characterizes it as “a good opportunity to move the dial on language education” in the U.S., especially since “the focus will be on access to underserved communities.”
The web-based Guide will identify and describe models of access and excellence in language education, as well as programs that can be emulated and adapted for attracting more students to language learning from diverse populations. Focusing on the language needs of Native American, heritage, immigrant and refugee populations, Latinx and English Learners, Black and people of color, and other disenfranchised and underrepresented rural and urban communities, the guide will be hosted by the University of Texas at Austin. This is the most significant initiative of the America’s Languages Working Group, a voluntary association of leaders from organizations across the language enterprise (education, business, government, Native American communities, and NGOs), which was created in 2017 to support and advance the recommendations of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences Commission report, “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century.”
Peer reviews of local programs that can be scaled up nationally will begin within a few months and the plan is to complete the project by 2022.