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The U.S. Department of Education (Department) on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, announced new awards totaling more than $11 million for the new Native American Language Resource Centers (NALRC) program, the first-ever Native American Teacher Retention Initiative (NATRI) program, and the State Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program

Combined, the grant awards will strengthen the vitality of Native American languages in schools, support Native American teachers, and ensure Tribal Educational Agencies can coordinate grant resources alongside state and local partners.

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“Our efforts to Raise the Bar for academic achievement and support multilingual learners in tribal communities must include strengthening and revitalizing Native languages, and supporting the recruitment, retention, leadership, and empowerment of Native American educators,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

“These grant funds will provide Native American students with greater opportunities to learn in inclusive environments that uplift their cultures, revitalize their languages, and ultimately, promote their academic success and wellbeing.”

The NALRC program will support the preservation and use of Native American languages in classrooms across the country. Three geographic regions—Central, Northwest, and West—as well as a national center will benefit from the awards to provide support to all states and regional center grantees. The centers will provide technical assistance for resource development, dissemination of research, leadership development, capacity-building services, and immersive, interactive learning experiences.

Finally, the Department awarded $1.6 million to support the 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. Funded projects include supporting cross-agency data sharing agreements; culturally responsive Native American student identification; and facilitating systemic change focus areas related to college readiness, workforce development, and family engagement.

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