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Rhode Island Foundation and RIDE Announce Bilingual/Dual Language Program Planning Grants to Four RI School Districts

Central Falls, Providence, Westerly, and Woonsocket will be exploring, starting, or growing programs aligned to the RI Blueprint for Multilingual Learners Success with $100,000 in grant funding

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee, Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, and Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg today announced that the Rhode Island Foundation has awarded planning grants to Central Falls School District, Providence Public School District, Westerly Public Schools, and Woonsocket Education Department to expand bilingual and dual language programs in Rhode Island.

“Our students can reach their highest potential if we make the right investments to support their individual needs,” said Governor Dan McKee. “By investing in the expansion of enriching bilingual and dual language programs, Rhode Island is following through on its commitment to equity in education. I express my appreciation to the Rhode Island Foundation for partnering with the Rhode Island Department of Education to ensure that our schools have the resources to better serve our multilingual learners and take them to new heights.”

“We’re glad to partner with RIDE on this critical work,” said Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “Supporting the expansion of bilingual and dual language programs in our public schools aligns squarely with our educational success strategy, recent long-term planning efforts with a focus on educational equity, and most importantly will help to close achievement gaps.”

These grants are aligned to the Rhode Island Blueprint for Multilingual Learners Success and Strategic Plan, which were released by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) in December 2020 and set expectations for a successful education experience for Multilingual Learner (MLL) students throughout the state. This multiyear endeavor will place educators in a position to provide high-quality evidence-based instruction for MLLs to be successful in learning English and rigorous grade-level content to help graduate college, pursue rewarding careers, and be life ready. Rhode Island is home to 23,931 current and former MLL students who speak over 100 languages and comprise 16% of the total student population.

“Growing up multilingual is a strength, not a shortcoming, and we’re excited to provide our MLL students with programs that affirm that principle,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “This generous grant funding from the Rhode Island Foundation will help our school communities create and expand educational opportunities that are tailor-made to meet the needs of their multilingual learners. We’re looking forward to working with the selected districts to implement these programs successfully.”

RIDE recently announced the expansion of the bilingual/dual language programs in Rhode Island through the allocation of competitive planning grants for LEAs. The four districts were chosen based on their alignment to the Blueprint for MLL Success, the organizational capacity, and feasibility and sustainability of their plans. Districts will implement their plans through July 2021.

The Woonsocket Education Department was awarded $40,000 for the planning and launch of a two-way immersion dual language Pre-K classroom in the 2021-22 school year. This would be the first dual language program in the entire district. The grant will support professional development, district planning, and materials for community engagement.

“The Woonsocket Education Department is grateful for the opportunity to begin planning for a Dual Language/Two-Way Immersion program,” said Superintendent Patrick McGee. "Adding a Dual Language/Two-Way Immersion program to Woonsocket will give our Spanish-speaking Multilingual Learners an opportunity to continue to develop their native language and our non-native Spanish speakers the opportunity to gain a second language.”

The Providence Public School District (PPSD) was awarded $27,000 for a project plan that will outline and support the expansion of PPSD’s dual language programming in the 2021-22 school year, particularly at the middle school level.

“Our transformation can only succeed if we give our multilingual learners the high-quality, rigorous education they deserve and provide them with the supports they need to thrive,” said Superintendent Harrison Peters. “We know that Dual Language Programs are key to this work, and I’m grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation for helping us to accelerate our expansion in the coming years.”

The Central Falls School District was awarded $20,000 for professional development to help expand their dual language classrooms, including at the secondary level.

"The Central Falls School District is taking full advantage of the new vision for MLLs generated by the state. Dual Language programs are the most effective methods to educate our MLLs. We are excited and thankful for the opportunity to partner with RIDE and the Rhode Island Foundation,” added Superintendent Stephanie Downey Toledo. “We are promoting programs that are academically rigorous and at the same time honoring the language and culture of our community."

Westerly Public Schools was awarded $13,000 to investigate the feasibility of the creation of a dual language immersion program in grades K-2 and to create a communication plan to describe and discuss the benefits of a two-way immersion dual language program to stakeholders.

More information on RI’s Blueprint for MLL Success is available on the RIDE website.