September 6, 2016, WASHINGTON, DC – Qatar Foundation International (QFI), has awarded two separate grants – a total of $179,374.22– to the Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) and the Tucson Unified School District, in recognition of their bids to expand and establish in-school Arabic programs in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tucson, Arizona.
Through a highly competitive process, QFI awarded grants in the amount of $68,305.34 to MPS and $111,068.88 to Tucson Unified to support their Arabic education programs.
Minneapolis Public School is the only district that offers Arabic from an elementary level to a high school level in the Twin Cities. With the grant award, MPS will solidify the Arabic programs at Lyndale Elementary School, Ramsey Middle School, to Washburn High School. The grant supports two teachers who will teach at the three schools, including funding for teacher salaries, International Baccalaureate program training and cultural events.
“Minneapolis Public Schools believes in providing an urban education that prepares students to be global citizens,” said superintendent Ed Graff. “Thanks to this partnership, our students will have even more opportunities to learn important languages useful for both college and career.”
The grant for Tucson Unified will expand QFI programming in the state of Arizona. Growing from the in-school program at Cholla Magnet High School, Tucson Unified will establish an Arabic feeder program at three more schools: Wright Elementary School, Doolen Middle School, and Catalina High School. With the addition of these schools, a cadre of Arabic teachers will be formed to coordinate cultural activities and organize outreach efforts to increase enrollment in K-12 Arabic classes. Planned activities include Arabic Language and Culture Day, presentations to parents and students, and attending Tucson Unified events to promote Arabic language and culture.
“Tucson Unified is committed to offering a global education, and we are excited that this partnership allows us to expand opportunities for our students and our community to learn more about the world,” said Superintendent H.T. Sanchez.
QFI sees language as a vehicle to connect cultures, and has partnered with 25 K-12 schools across the United States. Arabic is spoken by more than 400 million people worldwide, and has helped American students pursue careers in business, journalism, diplomacy, national security and much more.
“QFI partners with school districts across the U.S. to advance Arabic language learning and the understanding of Arab culture to develop global competency and critical 21st century skills that young Americans need to compete globally,” said Maggie Mitchell Salem, QFI’s executive director. “We are excited to see these pivotal programs grow in Minneapolis and Tucson and to connect educators, learners and communities in the US, Canada, Brazil, UK and Qatar.”
Surveys conducted by the Modern Language Association (MLA) in 2006 and 2009 found that American student enrollment in Arabic language courses grew by 126.5% from 2002 to 2006 and then again by another 46.3% between 2006 and 2009, making Arabic the fastest-growing area of foreign language study in the US. Despite this growing national interest, in-school programs have struggled to keep pace. This is where QFI seeks to help.