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Leverage Grant

Leverage Grant

$2.7M Grant to Support Project Leverage

Marco Bravo, PhD, is Transforming the Future of Bilingualism in STEM for Educators

Santa Clara University professor and associate dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology Marco Bravo has received a $2.7 million grant from the National Professional Development Program of the Department of Education to fund “Project Leverage.”

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 27, 2021—Santa Clara University professor and associate dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology Marco Bravo has received a $2.7 million grant from the National Professional Development Program of the Department of Education to fund “Project Leverage.”

Developed in partnership with colleagues from San Diego State University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Texas, San Antonio, Project Leverage is designed to provide bilingual middle and high school teachers  with dual language strategies to teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to students identified as English language learners.

Since March 2020, studies show COVID-19 has widened the U.S. achievement gap between English learners (ELs) and native English speakers. The gap is particularly pronounced in the areas of STEM and, for middle and high school students, is felt more acutely as they work to become ready for college and careers. Project Leverage seeks to address this educational shortfall through enhanced professional development certification courses for Spanish-English dual language teachers in California and Texas.

“Project Leverage will provide middle and high school STEM teachers with twin instructional practices to utilize students’ primary language and demystify content area literacy to gain access to abstract STEM concepts,” said Bravo.

The professional development coursework will empower middle and high school STEM teachers to affirm and leverage English Learners native language and culture in their classrooms. The program will be offered in two formats: in-person instruction held at the University of California, Santa Cruz campus and remote learning through Santa Clara University’s Education Department. An advisory board and evaluation team will provide timely feedback that will help Bravo and his colleagues adjust course materials as needed throughout the five-year grant period to maximize the impact and serviceability to teachers.

“Leveraging student’s bilingualism and the adolescent literacy coursework, coupled with individualized coaching sessions, will create the change needed for participating teachers to enact proven instructional practices that will support student deep learning of STEM fields,” explained Bravo.

Project Leverage grows from a grant previously secured by Bravo to fund math language literacy integration in elementary education. Findings and experiences from that program informed the development of Project Leverage and catalyzed its expansion into STEM and secondary education. 

“We envision a world where everyone has equal access to quality education,” said Sabrina Zirkel, dean of Santa Clara’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology. “Through their efforts to leverage bilingualism in STEM, Marco and his colleagues are making critical strides towards ensuring all students have access to high-quality, high-level STEM education and greatly enhancing the educational opportunities for emerging bilingual students.” 

About Santa Clara University

Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

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