School Districts Receive $20M in New Grants for World Languages

The Department of Defense Education Activity (DodEA) has named the recipients of nearly $20 million allocated for the inaugural World Language Advancement and Readiness grant program. These awards will allow nine public school districts, spread across seven states, to establish, improve, or expand innovative world language programs. Languages represented by the awards include American Sign Language, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish.

This program, which requires as a condition of eligibility that applying school districts host Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Programs, was authorized in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and received its first appropriations in FY 2021. Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Don Young (R-AK), along with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), championed this legislation and helped secure its passage and initial round of funding.

“As a co-founder of the America’s Languages Caucus, I am thrilled to see the first grant awards from the new World Language Advancement and Readiness Program at the Department of Defense,” said Congressman David Price (D-NC). “Language learning must be a cornerstone of our country’s education system in the 21st century, and I will continue to advocate for strong federal funding for this program going forward. Congratulations to the nine inaugural recipients!”

The Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) spearheaded successful efforts to authorize this program through the National Defense Authorization Act and fund its first round of grants through the FY21 Defense Appropriations Act. “We are grateful for the ongoing leadership of Representative Price, Representative Young, and Senator Booker,” said Amanda Seewald, president of JNCL-NCLIS. “This program defines a new and essential pathway for the growth of learning opportunities that empower students to become multilingual, globally prepared citizens. Our coalition members should take pride in their dedicated advocacy efforts over the past several years that helped bring this program to fruition.”

Each of the nine awardees received multiple years of funding to establish or augment existing innovative world language programs. North Hanover Township School District in New Jersey, serving the military-connected children of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurstwill (JB-MDL), will use the $1.7 million it received to expand Project Horizons Expanding through Language Learning Opportunities (H.E.L.L.O.) which emphasizes connections between language and culture, bringing culture to life through immersive summer experiences, extracurricular family events and partnerships with language clubs in the receiving high school and cultural organizations on JB-MDL. “With foreign language agility considered a national security need, we are proud to play a role in normalizing and celebrating the study of world language for young children, and developing positive attitudes AND aptitude necessary for our students to pursue more advanced language study in later grades. We know that the study of world languages and cultures gives all of our students access to diverse viewpoints and cultures, and a deeper understanding and appreciation of their own culture and others around the world,” said Helen Payne, superintendent of North Hanover Township School District. “

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