Request for Letters of Intent (LOI) Home

A Call to Action

California is home to the nation’s largest population of Dual Language Learners (DLLs, children ages 0 to 5) and English Learners (ELs, students in the K12 system), collectively referred to as Multilingual Learners within this opportunity. There are over 1.7 million DLLs and 1.3 million ELs in California. These students represent a multiplicity of histories, languages and traditions that reflect the dynamism of California itself. However, the state has struggled to serve all Multilingual Learners (MLs) well. Recent research has shown that many MLs do not have equitable access to grade-level content instruction and are often taught by early career teachers who lack the training to meet their educational needs. But when MLs are served well, they typically outperform their peers. Research indicates that children who achieve meaningful bilingualism and biliteracy by high school graduation have significantly better educational and career outcomes. And nine out of 10 U.S. employers report reliance on U.S.-based employees with language skills other than English, with one-third (32 percent) reporting high dependency. 

The state has made significant progress in recent years. In 2016, an overwhelming majority of Californians voted for Proposition 58, also known as the California Education for a Global Economy Initiative, which effectively repealed state restrictions on bilingual education programs and gave districts greater flexibility to support students’ English language development. The following year, the State Board of Education adopted the English Learner Roadmap to set a common vision for the education of Multilingual Learners in California from preschool through 12th grade. This Roadmap advances four core principles that will guide the state’s efforts into the future: assets-oriented and needs-responsive schools; intellectual quality of instruction and meaningful access; system conditions that support effectiveness; and alignment and articulation within and across systems. With these key pieces in place, in addition to the recently released California Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, there is opportunity for meaningful change.

However, along with these advancements, the COVID-19 crisis in California and globally has exposed and exacerbated systemic inequities that have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable populations, including Multilingual Learners. And while progress is occurring, more needs to be done. For example, an early analysis of how districts planned to use relief funds from last year lacked detail on how to target support to MLs.

After years of effective ML policy and advocacy efforts, California educators and education leaders are uniquely positioned to work together to support the systemic implementation of high-quality instructional practices for MLs statewide. All students, including MLs, deserve access to high-quality education where linguistic diversity is seen as an asset to the school, the community and the state. The success of MLs is critical to the success of California’s education system and the state’s future prosperity.

See the full LOI description in PDF form here.

Emerging Bilingual Collaborative

Building on this momentum, five foundations established the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative, as a sponsored project of New Venture Fund, to help educators deliver high-quality instructional practices to Multilingual Learners in grades PreK-3. Founders of the Collaborative include the California Community Foundation, James B. McClatchy Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Silver Giving Foundation and Sobrato Philanthropies. The Collaborative’s work is informed by an in-depth analysis of pressing needs across the state and consultations with leading experts on ML research, policy and practice.

The Collaborative believes now is a critical time to strengthen support for MLs to ensure the state’s education systems are equipped to meet their needs during and after this crisis. With funding, technical assistance and peer support, the Collaborative seeks to provide education leaders with opportunities to leverage other existing funding sources (e.g., CARES Act, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER), Title I/IDEA, First 5 California Dual Language Learner Pilot Expansion Phase, among others) to assist the longer term vision of this work.

What is the Multilingual Learning Toolkit: Resources for supporting PreK-3rd multilingual children?

Given how critical the early years are for MLs’ language development and foundational education, the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative identified an opportunity to support previous statewide efforts by building consensus on high-quality instructional practices for Multilingual Learners from ECE to 3rd grade. The Collaborative supported Early Edge California, in partnership with stakeholders across the state, to develop the Multilingual Learning Toolkit: Resources for Supporting PreK-3rd Multilingual Children, which describes foundational principles and evidenced based strategies for instruction that are critical for teachers and administrators to know when supporting Multilingual Learners. 

The Multilingual Learning Toolkit and aligned resources are designed for continued refinement and addition of resources over time. Therefore, the Collaborative has developed this funding opportunity to help education systems use the Multilingual Learning Toolkit to improve the quality of teaching and learning for MLs by focusing on the implementation of professional learning that support educators to use high-quality instructional practices for serving MLs PreK-3rd grade. Through this effort, we hope to continuously learn in partnership with grantees and share what we have learned with educators across California.

After years of effective ML policy and advocacy efforts, California educators and education leaders are uniquely positioned to work together to support the systemic implementation of high-quality instructional practices for MLs statewide. All students, including MLs, deserve access to high-quality education where linguistic diversity is seen as an asset to the school, the community and the state. The success of MLs is critical to the success of California’s education system and the state’s future prosperity.

¹ Unidos US, FY 21 Federal Budget: Title III Support for English Learners (2020), http://publications.unidosus.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/2057/unidosus_titleIIIfunding_factsheet.pdf?sequence=4&isAllowed=y.
²
Pearson, Language Testing International & Ipsos Public  Affairs, Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreighn Language Demand Among U.S. Employers (2019), https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/wp-content/uploads/MakingLanguagesOurBusiness_FullReport.pdf.
³ Pearson et al. (2019).
⁴ Californians Together, Children Now, National Center for Youth Law, & Public Advocates, How Districts Planned for Pandemic Learning: Equity-driven Practices and Lessons Learned from 2020 Learning Continuity and Attendance Plans (2021), https://youthlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/LCP_Report___How_Districts_Planned_for_Pandemic_Learning.pdf 

Questions related to this LOI process?

Emerging Bilingual Collaborative, a project of New Venture Fund, is supported by the following foundations…