This story originated from KYUK Public Media and was republished with permission.
BETHEL — The Lower Kuskokwim School Districtreceived a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance language proficiency for Alaska Native students in both English and Yup’ik.
The United States Department of Education recently awarded over $15 million in grants to 10 school districts across the nation. The plan is to use the grant money to help American Indian or Alaska Native students who are learning English, and LKSD will receive some of those funds. Carlton Kuhns is an Assistant Superintendent with the District.
“We were just notified that we did receive $1.5 million for the next five years. It is a five year grant, so approximately $300,000 per year, and the focus of that grant is to supplement our dual language program in which we have Yup’ik and Cup’ik languages taught as part of our elementary,” said Kuhns.
Kuhns says that they will use the grant to work with WIDA, an organization based at the University of Wisconsin that seeks to advance academic language development and achievements for culturally diverse students. Though the grant is already approved, Kuhns says there is plenty of work ahead.
“We’re really excited about the work ahead of us. This will be, like I said, a five year project working with national level experts. The national experts are gonna work with our local language experts, so we will have elders and Yup’ik language teachers that will be working together in the summers to develop this program, so we’re really excited about that,” said Kuhns.
The full set of national grants is anticipated to help around 8,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students achieve their educational goals both in English and in their native language. Kuhns says that LKSD will use the money to better test the language proficiency of their native speaking students, and to provide better programs in the future.