Over the past several months, SIL LEAD has asked that question of local community organizations around the world—organizations comprised of people who recognize the value of their languages and cultures and want to improve the quality of life for their communities. We let them know that if they could mobilize local resources and begin taking steps toward those dreams, SIL LEAD would work to provide matching grants that would help them make those dreams a reality.
Thirty-three initial proposals came in. We’ve selected the ten most inspiring and well considered as finalists. Once they’ve submitted fuller proposals and budgets, SIL LEAD will choose five projects to each receive matching grants of up to $7,500. SIL LEAD has set aside sufficient funds to provide these matching grants and will be inviting you to partner with us by making a donation (which we will match dollar for dollar) to help these communities realize their dreams.
The applications we received focus on literacy and education, and/or literature production and publication, which are widely recognized as stepping stones to economic empowerment and the betterment of their communities.
We’ve been amazed at the dreams these organization have shared with us.
Many of them are focused on helping their children:
One community group dreams about a preschool for three to five year olds that uses games, songs and pre-reading activities that incorporate both the local mother tongue and exposure to the state language to prepare their children to succeed in the national language school system.
Others wrote about their dreams to strengthen the community’s involvement as they work to improve the government-run primary schools through bilingual after-school programs, or through financing additional classroom teachers trained and experienced in multilingual education.
Another group has begun working on illustrated children’s books that use local folk tales and are written in the languages that these kids know and identify with. This group dreams about publishing these books both digitally and in print format.
Other community groups are looking to help adults who have been left behind:
One group has begun dreaming about literacy and numeracy classes for adults, especially women, who missed out on schooling because war and civil unrest uprooted their lives.
A network of ten different ethnic groups has envisioned reading clubs scattered through their mountainous region, that would help newly literate adults practice reading and learn from one another.
In a desert area on the other side of the ocean from that group, a network of local community groups has proposed training and support for local writers, teaching them digital tools like Bloom to publish bilingual books in local languages and in the national language.
Two others focused on the most fundamental tools to use their languages in writing:
One group has proposed workshops where bilingual dictionaries will be created and prepared for publication.
Another recognizes that they need a conference where local writers, educators, scholars and government officials can standardize and codify how they will write and spell their languages.
Each of these dreams represents the hopes of community members who long to see their diverse languages and cultures appreciated and sustained for future generations. These visionaries understand what it will take to help their children and neighbors thrive in today’s world. They value their languages and have come to see that this technological age provides opportunities to engage the world in ways that were previously unimagined.
On #GivingTuesday, November 27th, SIL LEAD will launch our fund-raising campaign for this matching grant initiative.
These communities are already taking steps to raise local funds and mobilize volunteers. Will you join them in their efforts? Will you help them make a lasting impact in their communities?
If so, please watch for more information on #GivingTuesday!