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Biden-Harris Administration Launches “Being Bilingual is a Superpower” to Promote Multilingual Education for a Diverse Workforce

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As part of its Raise the Bar: Create Pathways for Global Engagement, the Biden-Harris Administration today launched “Being Bilingual is a Superpower,” an initiative by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) to promote multilingual education and bolster high-quality language programs and a diverse multilingual educator workforce across the country. 

“Being Bilingual is a Superpower” will promote and further the understanding of bilingualism and biliteracy as an educational and economic imperative for student success, global competitiveness, and engagement. The new initiative under the Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) seeks to promote research-based bilingual educational opportunities and language instruction in early learning education settings and beyond. 

“Make no mistake: multilingualism is a superpower. Knowing more than one language, acquiring a new language through school, or learning new languages later in life can provide tangible academic, cognitive, economic and sociocultural advantages,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “As our nation continues to grow more diverse, and as our global economy becomes more interconnected, we cannot seize our nation’s full potential to compete and lead the world unless we Raise the Bar and provide all students with opportunities to become multilingual.”

The Department will host a national convening with education leaders and stakeholders on Thursday, November 16 in Washington, D.C. The event will be an opportunity to hear Secretary Cardona’s vision and the Department’s efforts and actions to provide every student a pathway to multilingualism. It will also include a roundtable conversation with experts from around the country who have created and implemented the policies, processes, programs, and practices necessary for English Learners and all students to have access  to high-quality language programs.

With the support of bilingual voices of Members of Congress and educational leaders, the Department is galvanizing the broader education ecosystem to prioritize multilingual learning to meet the needs of diverse communities and to ensure 21st century career readiness and global competitiveness.

Data shows that approximately only 20 percent of the U.S. population speaks more than one language. To underscore the need for bilingual and multilingual education, OELA announced last year nearly $120 million in investments to eligible institutions of higher education and public or private entities with relevant experience and capacity to support educators of English learner students. The Secretary also proposed to reorganize its Title III programming, which supports the success of English Learners, back into the Office of English Language Acquisition.

In support of the Secretary’s multilingual agenda and its goals, the Department awarded $33.2 million in 24 new grants to Native Hawaiian educational and community-based organizations and entities in Hawaii through the Native Hawaiian Education (NHE) program. The NHE program funds innovative educational programs to assist Native Hawaiians and recognizes the important role that the Native Hawaiian language and culture play in the educational success and long-term well-being of Native Hawaiian students.

Grant funds will be used to address critical areas of need identified by the Native Hawaiian Education Council, including Hawaiian language-medium instruction and culture-based education programs, mental health and social-emotional well-being initiatives, and elementary school and secondary school renovation projects at schools that serve a predominantly Native Hawaiian student body. The newly funded projects will also address the impact of COVID-19 on students and educators, helping ensure student learning is accelerated in order to meet challenging academic content standards. Grantees operating statewide and in Maui, Hawaii will also support the long-term recovery for students impacted by the August 2023 wildfires, which displaced thousands of Lahaina students and educators

The Department has also awarded nearly $2 million in grants under the Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program (NAM), to enhance capacity and provide effective instruction and support to Native American students who are English learners. In addition to the priority for the preservation and revitalization of Native American languages, this competition included a competitive priority on promoting equity in student access to educational resources, opportunities, and welcoming environments. This competition also encouraged a focus on strengthening cross-agency coordination and community engagement to advance Native American languages while increasing English-language proficiency. 

Additionally, the Department released a letter from Secretary Cardona to families, educators, and leaders to share resources for English Learner students, including Raise the Bar Metrics and data visualizations, the completed English Language Family Toolkit, and a Seal of Biliteracy Infographic. These resources provide educators and leaders with how to make sure English Learners and Multilingual Learners can meaningfully participate in education programs and their families with information that will empower them to support their children. The entire toolkit has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. OELA’s Family Toolkit app will also be available along with the release of the full Toolkit in Arabic, English, Chinese, and Spanish, and accessible on Android and Apple devices.

Below are lists of new awards listed by grantee and project name.

Grantee   

Project Name   

Aha Punana Leo  

Nā Hua Kanu  

Consortium for Hawai’i Ecological Engineering Education  

Mahope o Ke Kula Ke A’o Mau Ana: Ke Ka’a ‘Enehana (STEAMobile)  

Educational Services Hawaiʻi Foundation  

The ‘Imi ‘Ike Learning Centers Project  

Friends of the Future  

SHAKA – Sustaining Hawaiian Academic Knowledge and Achievement  

Friends of the Future  

HAPA: Hawaiian Achievement and Postsecondary Access  

Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture  

The Ka Lama o ke Kaiaulu project  

Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture  

Keiki Steps  

Kanehunamoku Voyaging Academy  

Ka Pou Kū Mau’s (Building Ocean and Climate Literacy)  

Kanu o ka Aina Learning Ohana  

Kaukoe a Mohala (Persevere, blossom and develop virtues, arts, and skills)  

Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu (Nāwahī) Public Charter School (PCS)A School District  

Project E Kū Ka Hale  

Kula no na Po’e Hawaii  

The Kukalahale Learning Project II (KLP II)  

Malama Honua Public Charter School Foundation  

The Malama Honua  

Partners in Development Foundation  

Project Tūtū and Me: Ka Mālama Mau (Grandparent and Me: ongoing provision of protection and care on all levels)  

Partners in Development Foundation  

The Piha me ka Pono (Piha) Project  

Partners in Development Foundation  

Ka Pa‘alana  

Partners in Development Foundation  

Kīʻapu Career and Technical Education for Justice-Involved Youth  

Supporting the Language of Kauaʻi, Inc.  

The Kawaikini Curricula and Teacher Pedagogy project  

University of Hawaii  

TEACH (Increasing Native Hawaiian Degree Completion and Employment in Technology, Energy, Agriculture/Astronomy, Climate, and Health)  

University of Hawaii  

  
Project Ka Pilina Noʻeau Hoʻomau  

University of Hawaii  

Project Hoʻokuʻi VI: E Hoʻomau’s (to move forward, persevere)  

University of Hawaii  

Ulu A‘e Transition 2.0 (UAT2)  

University of Hawaii  

Puʻuhonua Educational Sanctuaries  

University of Hawaii  

The Kūlia Support-Mohala Project (KSM)  

University of Hawaii  

Alanui a Hōkūlani Project 

 

Native American and Alaska Native Children in School Program grantees are listed below:

Name 

State 

Stilwell Public Schools

Oklahoma 

Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc. 

Arkansas 

Box Elder School District 13-G 

Montana 

Ute Mountain Ute Tribe 

Colorado 

Osage County Interlocal Cooperative 

Oklahoma 

Cherokee Nation Education Corporation 

Oklahoma 

 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) provides national leadership to help ensure that English Learners and immigrant students attain English proficiency and achieve academic success. In addition to preserving heritage languages and cultures, OELA is committed to prompting opportunities for biliteracy or multiliteracy skills for all students.

 

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