Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D – Orange County) presented a check for $10 million to California schools at Cecil B. DeMille Elementary School in Westminster. The check represents statewide grant funding that is likely to be used by the Garden Grove Unified, Westminster, and Anaheim Union High School Districts to support their dual language immersion programs.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done to deliver this funding to schools that are working proactively and diligently to meet the needs of California’s diverse state,” said Senator Umberg. He continued to say that, “As Co-Chair of the Senate’s Select Committee on the Census, I know first-hand the shifting demographics of our cities, neighborhoods, and immigrant populations. It takes cooperation and innovative thinking to create a more inclusive government and these schools have done more than just that — their test scores show they are excelling across the board.”
Senator Umberg led the charge this year in creating a $10,000,000 statewide grant program for school districts with dual language immersion programs. Orange County is home to three such school districts: Anaheim Union High School District, the Westminster School District, and the Garden Grove School District. The funding will ensure more students are prepared for success upon graduation and teach them to become more bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural.
The presentation was preceded by a virtual celebration, press conference, and learning session last Friday. In that Zoom meeting, representatives from the schools were able to ask technical questions of the California Department of Education and bounce ideas off each other in order to maximize their opportunities for success with their upcoming grant applications.
Dr. Natalie Tran, the Director of the National Resource Center for Asian Languages at California State University, Fullerton thanked Senator Umberg for his support of these programs. She stated, “This support means a lot for the students and families of the Vietnamese community, the second commonly spoken language in the state of the California after Spanish. Senator Umberg’s advocacy for less commonly taught languages is greatly valued and appreciated by members of the Vietnamese community considering the lack of resources have not been allocated to support Asian language dual immersion programs in the state.” She continued noting, “This funding opportunity not only supports the growth of the Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion programs but also has great implications for creating more culturally and linguistically vibrant workforce for the State of California.”
“I acknowledge the hard work of Senator Tom Umberg and his staff to obtain funds to develop the Dual Language Immersion Programs,” said Quyen Di, Head of the Vietnamese Language Program at California State University, Long Beach. “I believe that with the goodwill of Senator Tom Umberg’s office and with the available funds, the future of Asian language and cultural programs in Southern California will be bright and fruitful.”
While these three districts in Orange County are the only three with current dual language immersion programs, the goal of this grant is to both bolster existing efforts and allow for other schools to consider adoption, as well. The $10,000,000 established by Senator Umberg will allow these and other districts to apply for continuous grant funding of $380,000 for adoption, support, and expansion over the next three years.