Helios Education Foundation Awards $720,000 to Fund Dual Language Learning Research and Practice

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Helios Education Foundation is pleased to announce an investment of
$720,000 into dual language learning research and practice for children
ages three to five. The investment was awarded to Arizona State
University (ASU), who will partner with both Childsplay and the Osborn
Elementary School District to provide two-way immersion
(English-Spanish/Spanish-English) early childhood education learning
opportunities for children.

Research shows that students gain cognitive and academic benefits from
exposure to dual language learning, and that individuals who speak more
than one language have higher level executive function skills, including
problem solving and abstract thinking. In an interconnected and rapidly
changing world, speaking more than one language is an asset and not a
hindrance to success. This is especially true for young children, as the
early stages of cognitive development are fertile ground for learning
more than one language.

“More than 43 percent of Arizona children under five are Hispanic, and
many of these children come from homes where Spanish is the primary
language,” said Dr. Karen Ortiz, Vice President and Program Director,
Early Grade Success at Helios. “Our goal is to implement two-way
immersion early learning opportunities, and learn how this helps with
early literacy and language development for both Spanish and English
speaking children.”

There are two components to this investment. The first is a research
component in which Helios and ASU will explore effective methodologies
and practices for creating pathways to early grade success and dual
language learning professional development for teachers. Original
research will also be collected to validate dual language learning
programs that can be replicated.

“Most of the research on Dual Language Learning (DLL) has been done with
older children,” said Dr. Michael Kelley, Associate Professor of Early
Childhood Special Education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at
Arizona State University. “By taking a look at how dual language
opportunities can support early literacy and language development, we
hope to better understand how to ensure more children in Arizona are
ready for success when they enter kindergarten and are reading at grade
level by the end of third grade.”

The second component of this investment is programmatic in nature and
will utilize the EYEPlay model, developed by Childsplay, to provide
professional development activities for preschool educators who teach
core content in both Spanish and English to a mixture of native Spanish
and English speaking children. EYEPlay promotes language and literacy
development through creative drama, providing an authentic, story-based
approach, which has proven particularly successful with Dual Language

The program will serve approximately 300 preschool enrolled children,
including children in DLL, special needs and Head Start classrooms, who
will enter kindergarten in the Osborn School District. This will be the
first comprehensive effort to provide integrated curriculum to children
across all classroom types, ensuring that children in Osborn start
kindergarten with a common set of experiences.

Ultimately, this project hopes to create an aligned and coordinated
approach to serving children in dual language learning preschool
education programs, and produce research-based strategies that other
entities can replicate to help ensure more Arizona children enter
kindergarten ready to succeed and read at grade level by the end of
third grade.

About Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating opportunities for
individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education
by advancing the academic preparedness of all students and fostering a
high-expectation, college-going culture. Through a decade of strategic
partnership and investment, Helios has identified Early Grade Success,
College and Career Readiness and Postsecondary Completion as the three
most critical reform priorities in achieving our long term goal.

As an engaged foundation embedded in communities across both states, the
Foundation is contributing its expertise and financial resources to
better prepare students for college and career in a globally competitive
economy. Since 2006, Helios has invested more than $170 million in
education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. For
more information about the Foundation, visit www.helios.org.

About The ASU Foundation

The ASU Foundation for A New American University is a private, nonprofit
organization that raises and invests private contributions to Arizona
State University, while advocating for and advancing this transformative
university’s mission and brand. Learn more about the ASU Foundation’s
role in advancing ASU as a New American University: http://www.asufoundation.org/about-us.

About Childsplay

Childsplay, Inc. is a nonprofit theatre company of professional, adult
artists who perform for and teach young audiences and their families.
The mission of Childsplay is “to create theatre so strikingly original
in form, content or both, that it instills in young people an enduring
awe, love and respect for the medium, thus preserving imagination and
wonder, the hallmarks of childhood which are keys to the future.” For
more information, visit www.childsplayaz.org.

About Osborn School District

Osborn School District is a high-achieving, urban public school district
serving 3,000 elementary students in Central Phoenix. We are enriched by
students, parents and staff who are culturally and linguistically
diverse, representing 49 countries and 31 languages. Our purpose is “to
grow achievement-oriented leaders of tomorrow, changing the world one
student at a time.” For more information visit, www.osbornschools.org.


Helios Education Foundation
Rebecca Lindgren, 602-381-2294