The James B. McClatchy Foundation has awarded grants to school districts in the Central Valley since 2009 with the primary purpose of advancing the academic achievement of the Valley’s English Learners. In 2017, JBMF (then the Central Valley Foundation) formed the English Learner Advisory Group in order to identify potential high impact grantmaking opportunities for English Learners in the Central Valley. One such opportunity was improving the quality of and increasing access to prekindergarten programs. As a result, the “Growing Strong Learners” initiative launched in 2018.
The approach of the Growing Strong Learners initiative is asset-based, and prioritizes home language and culture, as well as English acquisition. In this vein, JBMF supports school systems, programs, and partners as they leverage the strengths of the Valley’s diverse learners and their families. The initiative’s goal is that all Dual Language Learners in the Central Valley enter Kindergarten at the same level or beyond that of their native English-speaking peers and are supported by lasting structures that ensure they thrive throughout their educational journeys.