PRESS RELEASE – Amherst and Holyoke School Districts Awarded Bilingual Education Grant

PRESS RELEASE – Amherst and Holyoke School Districts Awarded Bilingual Education Grant

January 11, 2019




Amherst and Holyoke School Districts Awarded Bilingual Education Grant


AMHERST, MA –  Through a collaborative partnership, the Amherst Public Schools and Holyoke Public Schools have been awarded a Bilingual Education Grant in the amount of $300,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  For the Amherst Public Schools, these funds will support the implementation of a new English/Spanish Dual Language Program beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, starting with Kindergarten at Fort River Elementary School.  Holyoke, home to the first Dual Language Program in Western Massachusetts, will utilize the funds in support of their efforts to expand their program to ensure their vision of a pathway for every student and provide students with the opportunity to earn the Seal of Biliteracy.


The innovative Dual Language Program offers students the opportunity to learn in two languages (English and Spanish) by using a curriculum aligned with the state’s curriculum framework.  The goal of the program is to reach high levels of academic achievement, bilingualism and biliteracy in a safe and engaging learning environment that values multiculturalism while preparing students for college and career.


Funds from the Bilingual Education Grant will allow both Districts to work in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Westfield State University, Greenfield Community College, the International Language Institute and the Multistate Association of Bilingual Education (MABE) to provide coursework and other professional development opportunities for their staff.  UMass and Westfield State University will work with the Districts to offer staff the opportunity to take courses toward a new Bilingual Education Endorsement program that is currently under development.  Greenfield Community College is working with the Amherst district to provide entry-level Spanish language classes, which will be offered to District staff at no cost and at a site in the District.  The International Language Institute will provide Spanish language courses for Holyoke District staff at no cost to the staff.  MABE provides both conferences and in-house professional development for teachers, along with implementation guidance for new and expanding Dual Language Programs.  In addition to significant professional development opportunities and implementation/expansion support for both districts, grant funds will be utilized to purchase curriculum materials and assessment kits in Amherst.  Holyoke Public will use the funds to update and expand the curriculum as they grow the program to various grade levels.  There is also a significant family outreach component to the grant for both districts.

Amherst and Holyoke District leaders are excited about the Dual Language programs in their Districts because of their promising outcomes for all students, especially Spanish speaking English Learners.



Dr. Stephen Zrike Dr. Michael Morris
Superintendent, Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent, Amherst Public Schools
413-534-2005 413-362-1823