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Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards Grant to American Councils to Support “America’s Languages” Initiative

June 12, 2020

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $150,000 grant to American Councils for International Education for the American Councils Research Center (ARC), a division that provides research and data on language learning and language use in education and in the workplace.

The Mellon grant will support implementation of the next phase of a multi-year effort by America’s Languages Working Group to realize the vision of the America’s Languages report, the result of a Congressionally-requested Commission on Language Learning by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The new project will facilitate the Working Group’s national strategy to improve access to as many languages as possible for people of every region, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background in the United States. This entails broader and more equal access to language education in the United States by focusing on all of America’s languages, especially those of Native American, heritage and immigrant communities, as well as the less-commonly taught languages that represent regions of the world critical to US national security and economic interests but garnering little attention from American students.

To achieve these goals, the grant provides funding for an interactive website to identify, preserve, and offer accessible information on leading programs and practices in language education at the local, state, and federal levels. The website will constitute a “Guide to Leading Language Programs and Practices in US Higher Education,” recognizing excellence in instruction, successful efforts to effect broader and more equitable access to language instruction, and a more diverse representative portfolio of languages.

“Our goal is to provide a resource that allows language advocates and stakeholders around the country to make the case for the integration of quality language education for all who desire it, regardless of their socioeconomic status or language of interest,” said Dr. Richard Brecht, project director, and co-director of ARC.

The America’s Languages Working Group comprises more than 20 national leaders from academia, business, government, Native American and heritage communities, and NGOs with a language, global, and humanities mission, in addition to representatives from the United States legislative and executive branches, including members of Congress. 

“American Councils for International Education is proud to facilitate the next phase of the America’s Languages initiative, and is grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its generous support,” noted ARC Director Dan Davidson, who is also a member of the America’s Languages Executive Committee.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, the Foundation’s core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture.