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October 2021

Elementary school students in a classroom.

Elementary school students in a classroom.

Santa Clara Faculty Awarded Major Federal Grant to Support Bilingual K-8 Education

Three Santa Clara University faculty members have been awarded more than $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition to support Spanish-English bilingual education in California and New Mexico.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 27, 2021Three Santa Clara University faculty members have been awarded more than $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition to support Spanish-English bilingual education in California and New Mexico. Drs. Claudia Rodriguez-Mojica, Karla Lomelí, and Kathleen Stoehr of SCU’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology will use the grant to fund the development and implementation of workshops for bilingual teachers and caregivers of English language learners. Allison Briceño of San José State University also is included in the award. 

California and New Mexico have among the highest number of K-8 students in the country who are identified as English language learners (ELL). Dual language education is an extremely effective way to teach ELLs, and students identified as ELLs who receive instruction in both Spanish and English perform better academically than those who are taught exclusively in English. As a result, the demand for bilingual education has increased across the country, despite  a lack of qualified, credentialed bilingual teachers to meet the rising needs of K-8 bilingual schools.

“Some bilingual teachers question their ability to teach in Spanish. The online workshops funded through this grant will provide a professional learning environment in Spanish for bilingual teachers to gain and refine the skills they need to teach in K-8 dual language classrooms,” said Rodriguez-Mojica, an SCU associate professor of education and lead investigator for the grant. “We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for recognizing this important need and for supporting our efforts to better serve our Spanish-English bilingual students.”

The grant supports both the creation of Spanish online professional development opportunities for bilingual teachers at no-cost to participants, as well as workshops to support caregivers of students who are identified as English language learners.

Children's caregivers have a wealth of knowledge that, when acknowledged and valued, can greatly enhance their children's education. “Creating pathways and opportunities for primarily Spanish speaking caregivers to share their knowledge and ideas is an essential part of our grant,” said SCU associate professor Stoehr. “The bilingual caregiver workshops, which will be offered in-person at no cost, aim to empower families and showcase how learning in the home is an asset to the instruction that takes place in the classroom.” The bilingual workshops will be focused on mathematics to provide families with supplemental tools to support their children in this critical academic area.

Over the next 24 months, Rodriguez-Mojica, Lomelí, Stoehr, and Briceño will develop content in Spanish for teachers that focuses on strengthening vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. The resources they generate will launch through the digital platform Canvas in 2023. When the five-year grant period ends in 2026, assets for both teachers and caregivers will be made available in perpetuity at no cost through a combination of digital materials such as videos and curriculum guides.

The workshops are divided into three strands: the development of biliteracy; strategies to support English learners; and culturally and linguistically responsive practices.

“These workshops are designed to encourage, bolster, affirm, and celebrate linguistic diversity,” said Lomelí, an SCU assistant professor of education. “We want to help instill a sense of linguistic pride in ELL students and their caregivers, and we hope to empower teachers to cultivate that same sense of pride in their classrooms and in their communities.”

The award is among the largest federal grants ever received by Santa Clara University.

“This grant is a testament to the incredible work that our faculty are doing to support the needs of our communities,” said Sabrina Zirkel, dean of Santa Clara’s School of Education and Counseling Psychology. “These funds will make a significant difference in the future of bilingual education and will impact the lives of young students across California and New Mexico.”

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

Media Contacts

Deepa Arora | SCU Communications |