As A Central Valley Basis Sunsets, It Funds ‘cutting Edge’ Work For Area’s Multilingual College students

Courtesy of Nestor Henrriquez

Nestor Henrriquez, third from left, poses with college students graduating from Merced Excessive Faculty this previous June. The scholars all started attending faculty within the U.S. throughout highschool. Every of them graduated with varied pathways to neighborhood schools or vocational coaching colleges, thanks in to help from Henrriquez’s mission for Train Plus referred to as English Learner Graduation Pathways.

The Sacramento-based James B. McClatchy Basis determined to spend all its funds by 2030, a course of often known as “sunsetting” within the nonprofit sector. A serious beneficiary of this technique, already in movement, are advocacy efforts that help the training of the various Central Valley college students who converse a language apart from English at house.

The inspiration, named after the late Valley newspaperman and writer who established it in 1994, lately laid out its spend-down technique in a report that casts its effort as a “sunrise” for the Central Valley.

College students whose house language isn’t English — known as multilingual learners — are generally considered as being an issue that colleges want to unravel relatively than a supply of energy in California colleges, mentioned Priscilla Enriquez, CEO of the James B. McClatchy Basis. That has begun to alter with the discharge of the Studying-english/650716″ rel=”noopener”>state’s 2017 English Learner Roadmap, but the foundation’s board wants to see dramatic improvement for these multilingual communities.

“So how do we flip that so that children and their families who speak a different language and enter the school system are seen as assets?” Enriquez said.

The Central Valley — with a diverse population that speaks languages including Spanish, Punjabi, Hmong, Arabic, Filipino and Mixteco — is a crucial place to do the work of centering multilingual learners, advocates say.

“There is such rich potential in the Valley, because people have come in with this other language,” said Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, deputy director of Californians Together, an organization that advocates for English learners and is a strategic partner for the James B. McClatchy Foundation. “It’s the right place for us to show the value of that and honor it through our Education system.”

The Central Valley has a higher proportion of English learners than the rest of the state, notes a policy brief from Californians Together last year. In Stanislaus, Merced and Madera counties, English learners account for every 1 in 4 students, compared to 1 in 5 in the state. But there are fewer programs in the Valley to support multilingual learners through bilingual education and dual immersion, Cruz-Gonzalez said.

English learners need extra support, advocates say. English learners are more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged (89%) than non-English learners in the Valley (67%) or students statewide (58%). When they graduate from high school, English learners are also less likely to meet A-G course requirements that put them on track for success in College. Only 19% of English learners in the Valley meet these requirements compared to 41% of other Valley students and 52% statewide.

Supporting the potential of multilingual learners is a part of the James B. McClatchy Foundation board’s broader vision of investing in those in the Central Valley who are trying to improve the region’s fortunes. Ultimately, the foundation’s board wants to help build an infrastructure that will last beyond its existence. Besides supporting multilingual education, the board’s other goals involve promoting community journalism and the next generation of “inclusive leadership.” 

“The needs of the Central Valley are so great and the solutions to address them should come from the people who live there,” said Susan McClatchy, the foundation board’s vice chair and the late James B. McClatchy’s wife, in a statement. “[The foundation’s] sunrise plan is but the grease to facilitate what already exists in diverse communities.”

Central Valley lacks investment

The Central Valley is an economic powerhouse whose land and workers provide 1 / 4 of the Meals on America’s tables. Yet, the region is often regarded as little more than drive-through territory between the Bay Area and Southern California. It’s not just motorists passing the region by. Philanthropists as well as the state have also given the region short shrift, inadvertently reinforcing the region’s wide disparities in areas like Health care and education, said Enriquez.

In 2016, the foundation’s board decided that it wanted to lay the groundwork for an ecosystem of nonprofits addressing the region’s pressing issues — and ultimately attract more philanthropy and state dollars to the region. 

But the board’s vision of a “healthy, functioning multiracial democracy” in the Central Valley would require more than a gradual doling out of its funds. The foundation’s coffers are healthy, but it’s “not Gates’ money,” Enriquez said. At its peak, the foundation had $57 million in assets, according to 2020 tax documents.

This shift in strategy can be viewed through the way the foundation has offered grants in education. Previously, the foundation funded schools and professional development directly, but with the foundation’s sunset in sight, the board is aiming to make its dollars go further, Enriquez said. It is pooling its dollars with other funders and offering grants to nonprofit organizations with an eye on creating long-term, sustainable change. 

One example is its funding of the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative, a statewide effort with a large presence in the Central Valley. Smaller rural districts that make up the region find it hard to compete with large districts such as Los Angeles Unified who have staff dedicated to grant writing. The collaborative hired grant writers whose efforts secured $4 million for the Central Valley as the state rolls out funding for universal preschool. Advocates see this expansion as a crucial opportunity for multilingual learners to build English skills as well as maintain their home language through dual language immersion programs.

This new strategy is paying off. Previously, the foundation’s funds reached about nine districts. Through the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative, it has touched 74.

“That’s the kind of leverage we want to have,” said Enriquez.

Over the past few years, the foundation conducted a series of listening sessions from Sacramento to Bakersfield to figure out how it can best invest its resources in the region, but it hasn’t strayed far from the values of its late founder. 

McClatchy was born in Fresno into a family that owned a chain of pro-labor newspapers. He ultimately became the chain’s publisher, but he got his start in the family business, reporting and writing for the company’s newspapers, including the Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee and Sacramento Bee. As a reporter, he wrote a series of articles in the 1940s about the harsh conditions faced by migrant farmworkers, sparking a lifelong interest in supporting these families and their children’s education.

“Education was always important to him,” Enriquez said. “He had a heart for immigrants, he really did. He wanted them to thrive in the Valley, and he believed education was a part of that solution.”

The foundation has funded groups supporting parent advocacy through PIQE or the Parent Institute for Quality Education and educator advocacy through Teach Plus, which works to help elevate teachers into leadership roles.

Creating a new regional network

The recent trajectory of Nestor Henrriquez, a language and literacy coordinator at the Merced County Office of Education, exemplifies how the funding is working to promote Central Valley education leaders. 

Henrriquez joined the California Emergent Bilingual Change Agent Network through Teach Plus while a high school Teacher at Merced High School. He worked to advocate for multilingual students at his school, which included long-term English learners who needed extra support or recent immigrant students, including asylum seekers, who might have trouble with their transcripts. He encouraged students to pursue a Seal of Biliteracy. English learners face a stigma, but he tried to instill pride in his students.

“We tried to turn that around and say, ‘You should celebrate the fact you know more than one language,’” Henrriquez said.

He said administrators at the Merced County Office of Education liked what they saw and recently hired him to help with their own efforts to improve multilingual education countywide.

The Emerging Bilingual Collaborative works to support county offices of education, including Merced County, to provide professional development. There is an emphasis on younger grades, since 40% of English language learners in the Valley are in K-3. Kern County has also benefited from this funding. 

Since the state released its roadmap, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools has been working to center the needs of multilingual students in professional development. Funding from the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative has allowed that effort to expand and become a regional hub, said Lisa Vargas, the director of humanities and multilingual education for the office. The office is doing training in 32 districts in Kern County and six outside the county.

“It gave us that added footage to be able to bring on a model that our office believed in,” Vargas said.

This model allows the county to do a needs assessment with local districts before offering training to administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and families. And it’s not just one-and-done training, Vargas said. Trainers return to classrooms and work directly with educators to implement what they’ve learned about how to support multilingual students academically and culturally.

The Emerging Bilingual Collaborative is working within but also between counties through the region, said Kathleen Callahan Dutta, director of the collaborative. This network that centers multilingual learners is what excites her most.

“That’s one thing that the Central Valley is really on the cutting edge with,” Dutta said. “I’m excited to see where that goes when they start implementing it a little bit more.”

Note: The James B. McClatchy Foundation’s partners and grantees work on a wide variety of projects throughout the region, including nonprofit media with an emphasis on education reporting. EdSource is a grantee, along with Valley-based outlets such as Valley Public Radio, Radio Bilingue, Fresnoland and Fresno Bee’s Education Lab.

To get extra experiences like this one, click on right here to enroll in EdSource’s no-cost each day e-mail on newest developments in training.

As a Central Valley foundation sunsets, it funds ‘cutting edge’ work for region’s multilingual students

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a passionate and talented article writer with a flair for captivating storytelling. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for research, she weaves compelling narratives that leave readers wanting more. When she's not crafting words, Emma enjoys exploring new cuisines and honing her photography skills.

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