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:
- We were instrumental in the opening of three dual language programs in Ward 7 where there were none, serving over 1,000 students
- We hosted, managed, and fundraised for the yearly Multilingual Education Fair of DC which has become a phenomenon that over the years has drawn thousands of parents and students from the entire DC area in search of the language learning resources offered by 150 exhibiting organizations from the US and abroad
- We researched and supported multilingual education across the city and we contributed to the national discourse on multilingual education, informing federal legislation, and
- We engaged and supported families and community members in their advocacy for the creation and funding of an Office of Multilingual Education and the funding of a roadmap to the expansion of multilingual education in the District.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The Board and Staff of the DC Language Immersion Project
Jimell Sanders, President and Co-Founder
Department of Defense
ElShadey Bekele, Secretary
Children’s National Medical Center
Kevin Clinton, Treasurer
Federal City Council
Executive Director and Co-Founder
Director of Teaching and Learning
Betsy C. Romero
Lee Montessori Public Charter School
Columbia Heights Educational Campus DCPS
Blakeney A. Vásquez
Director of Operations