Dear Families, educators, and partners,

It is with great disappointment that we share with you that the DC Language Immersion Project (DC Immersion) is dissolving as a 501c3 organization due to a lack of resources after six years of tireless advocacy for multilingual education in the District of Columbia.

Multilingual education is recognized as one of the most effective programs for closing the achievement gap, broadening economic opportunity, and promoting understanding for students of all socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds

In a city whose residents speak a rich diversity of languages in their homes, multilingual education matters to the District of Columbia. It not only helps students feel safe and seen in their educational settings, but it helps non English-dominant families engage with their children’s education. Multilingual education programs provide a pathway to the middle class for English-native-speakers and non-English-nativespeakers alike because they are in demand in the workforce here in DC and abroad. A multilingual education is an entrance ticket to Washington’s embassies, cultural centers and international institutions and the wider world.  

Parents and students in all eight wards agree in overwhelming numbers. There are approximately 8,000 students enrolled in 24 schools. Six of the ten public charter schools with the highest lottery demand are Dual-Language Immersion programs. Their waiting lists are filled with students hoping for the chance to benefit from these programs. 

For the last six years, DC Immersion has been our city’s foremost multilingual education advocate and we are proud of our accomplishments, achieved almost entirely with private funds:

While we are proud of our successes, so much more needs to be done. The needs are all the more imperative right now because language immersion is exceedingly difficult in a virtual learning setting and students will need even more support to recover what has been lost. As we close our doors, here is what we encourage parents to advocate for and the government to take steps to implement next: 

  1. The District of Columbia needs a real plan for supporting and expanding high quality multilingual education programs. Funds were allocated and dedicated to develop such a landscape analysis last year and yet still no plan exists. 
  1. There need to be more multilingual education programs in development at both DC Public Schools and within the charter sector. Right now there are no additional dual language immersion programs being publicly considered.
  1. The DC Government needs to engage with the parents of the thousands of students who are on waiting lists for dual language immersion programs. We encourage you to work together with those parents to expand access to high quality multilingual education.  

While the lack of financial support is driving our decision to dissolve, the need to increase opportunity and equity while strengthening DC’s communities is more important now than ever. 

Sincerely,

The Board and Staff of the DC Language Immersion Project

Board Members

Jimell Sanders, President and Co-Founder

Department of Defense

ElShadey Bekele, Secretary

Children’s National Medical Center

Kevin Clinton, Treasurer

Federal City Council

Ximena Hartsock

Phone2Action

Staff Members

Vanessa Bertelli                                                           

Executive Director and Co-Founder         

Linsey Silver

Director of Teaching and Learning

Betsy C. Romero

Lee Montessori Public Charter School

Maria Tukeva

Columbia Heights Educational Campus DCPS

Blakeney A. Vásquez

Yuiza 21

Johanna Barrantes

Director of Operations

Dear Families, educators, and partners,

In 2020 we announced that the DC Language Immersion Project would close its doors due to lack of resources. However, before completely dissolving the organization, we recently asked a group of local and national educators if they - individually or collectively - would be interested in continuing the work of advocating for multilingual education in the District of Columbia. We are pleased to announce that a few individuals responded yes and volunteered to forge a plan to continue this vital work.

So, we are not closing our doors but we are entering a six-to-twelve-month period of dormancy as we determine the best path forward for the DC Immersion Project.  Thank you for your continued support and please stay tuned for updates.

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