WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced more than $8 million in grant funding across three key initiatives for Native students. The funding includes three competitive programs to increase access to Native American languages in America’s schools, support and promote the success of Native American teachers, and ensure tribal educational agencies can coordinate grant resources alongside state and local partners.
Each of these programs will help meet the urgent need to strengthen the vitality of Native American languages, retain more Native American teachers as leaders, and reinforce collaborative relationships between tribal and state educational agencies.
“Our efforts to raise the bar for multilingual learners includes strengthening and revitalizing Native languages and the recruitment, retention, and leadership of Native educators,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These investments, totaling more than $8 million, reflect our belief at the Department of Education that tribal sovereignty starts with educational sovereignty, and that all Native students deserve access to an inclusive, culturally affirmative education that’s reflected in the teachers in their schools. The Biden-Harris administration is committed to addressing teacher shortages and growing and retaining a pipeline of educators who can meet the needs of Native students and provide instruction that’s grounded in appreciation for and understanding of their unique tribal histories, traditions, languages, treaties, and cultures.”
Approximately $2.9 million in funding will support a new Native American Language Resource Centers (NALRC) program. The new centers will help preserve and protect Native languages by promoting the use of Native American languages in classrooms across all age levels, academic content areas, and types of schools. The NALRC furthers policies set forth by the Native American Languages Act and ensures the revitalization and reclamation of Native American languages. Eligible entities include institutions of higher education (IHE), an entity within an IHE with dedicated expertise in Native American language and culture education, or a consortium that includes one or more IHEs or one or more entities as described in the Native American Language Resource Center Act.
The Department also announced $2.75 million in available funding to support the first-ever Native American Teacher Retention Initiative (NATRI) competition. NATRI will help address the shortage of Native American educators and promote retention by facilitating opportunities for Native teachers to serve in leadership roles in their schools. This demonstration grant competition will also fund projects that help educators of Native American students better provide culturally appropriate and effective instruction and support for Native American students. These efforts are aimed at ensuring that educators have the necessary knowledge and understanding of Native communities, languages, tribal histories, traditions, and cultures. An applicant could, for example, help educators expand culturally relevant family and community engagement to meet the unique needs of students’ academic and social-emotional learning. Eligible entities include a state educational agency, local educational agency including charter schools that are considered local education agencies (LEAs) under state law, an Indian tribe, an Indian organization, a federally supported elementary school or secondary school for Indian students, and/or a consortium of eligible applicants.
In June, the Department announced $2.4 million in available funding to support the State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program. STEP grants support projects that strengthen tribal self-determination and promote coordination and collaboration among tribal, state, and local educational agencies to meet the unique needs of Native students. The program empowers cross-agency coordination, systemic change, community engagement, and the role of tribal consultation. Eligible entities include an Indian tribe or tribal organization approved by an Indian tribe, or a Tribal Educational Agency (TEA), including a consortium of TEAs.