Grand View Receives $2.75 Million Education Grant

September 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Grand View University a grant to support English-language acquisition in Iowa schools and communities.

This $2.75 million, five-year grant supports Project EMPOWER, a collaboration between Grand View and six Iowa public school districts: Columbus Junction, Des Moines, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Postville, and West Liberty. The impact on these communities will be substantial. Grant funds, over the five-year project, will enable Project EMPOWER to train 185 teachers to effectively serve English Language Learners (ELLs) in their respective districts and serve as model teachers for ongoing job-embedded professional development. The professional development under the grant impacts both in-service and pre-service teachers, enhancing instruction, student learning assessment, and ELL student/teacher interactions, all factors found to impact ELL student achievement. The project also systematically includes the training of 400 parents/families of ELLs to strengthen the ability of the parents and families to support their children’s education.

 “The whole project is exciting when I think about how it expands Grand View’s ability to serve critical community needs and lift up whole families,” said Grand View University Provost Carl Moses. “Four of the districts in the collaboration have large populations of ELLs but are not well resourced to meet the needs of those students and their families, so Project EMPOWER will fill big gaps and make a real difference.”

Representatives from the school districts share the impact the grant will have in their schools:

Pablo Ortega, Director, English Language Learner Program for Des Moines Public Schools, is excited about this opportunity, “Des Moines Public Schools is pleased to partner with Grand View University in many ways to support our students and teachers. This grant will enable us to have more and more teachers working with English Language Learners and helping those students gain access to grade-level standards. At the same time, this initiative will equip more families with the knowledge necessary to help their children realize greater success in the classroom.”

Joy Miniku from Postville school district says, “Our school is getting close to being 40 percent ELL students and the majority of our staff outside of our ESL Department do not have ESL endorsements. Providing this grant to support our educators will benefit both our teachers and our students! We are very excited to offer this opportunity to our staff so they can be better prepared to meet the needs of our diverse students.”

Dr. Lisa Stevenson, Director of Instruction at Marshalltown Community School District, offers her perspective, “Marshalltown Community School District is excited to partner with Grand View University and the new grant. The district's number of English learners and density of English learners both rank in the top three in the state of Iowa so there is a definite need for the teachers and staff in Marshalltown to have access to ongoing professional learning related to how to best educate second language learners and how to best work with diverse families. The impact of this grant is great and will allow many, many teachers to access graduate level coursework offered at the collegiate level.”

Dr. Roslyn Billy, Assistant Professor of Education, and Dr. Patricia Williams, Dean of Graduate and Adult Programs, are leading the grant at Grand View.