MISSOULA - A local grant of $10,000 will translate Missoula County Public Schools notices into Swahili, Tigrinya and Arabic to serve refugee students attending school.
According to a media release, 44 students currently enrolled in Missoula schools come from refugee families, whose native countries include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria.
A $10,000 grant will pay for translating school notices and legal forms into Swahili, Tigrinya and Arabic.
The donations came from United Way of Missoula County, Community Medical Center and Soft Landing Missoula.
MCPS says local donations will help pay for refugee services until 2020, when the school district will be eligible for a federal Refugee Impact Grant.
The Refugee Impact Grant is only given out to schools who have had refugees enrolled for at least two years. The refugee resettlement started in Missoula during the 2016-2017 academic year.
MCPS receives donation to cover costs to translate materials into three new languages
Through the generous support of the United Way of Missoula County, Community Medical Center and Soft Landing Missoula, a $10,000 joint donation to the district provided the funds to translate all of the district’s annual notices, consent forms and other legal documentation provided to all parents with children in the district. The forms now exist in Swahili, Tigrinya and Arabic and will be a resource for our current families as well as any incoming refugees from the same language background. Missoula County Public Schools started enrolling students from Eritrea, Iraq, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria in the 2016-17 school year. These students were resettled in Missoula with their families as part of our refugee resettlement program. To date, the district has enrolled 44 students over the past two school years. “The students and their families have brought our schools a wealth of opportunity to create diversity and understanding of other cultures,” noted Shirley Lindberg, MCPS English Language Learner Program Coordinator. “It also presented a new challenge for our program – we needed to identify translators and find ways to provide essential legal forms in a variety of other languages.”
Even though MCPS has enrolled 44 new students who qualify as refugees into the district, the additional funding to support these families won’t be awarded to the district until 2020. That’s because the federal Refugee Impact Grant is based on enrollment counts from the prior two school years. The funding from the Refugee Impact Grant program is not currently offered to any school district in the state of Montana due to lack of refugee enrollment numbers. This funding is meant to cover the district’s specific costs for supporting students and their families with translation services and transition support designed to help them quickly learn English as a second language and ensure that students can make adequate academic growth as soon as possible. Providing a welcoming and sustainable support system for incoming refugee families is a team effort and MCPS is proud to be working with the International Rescue Committee, Soft Landing Missoula, the City County Health Department, Partnership Health, The Department of Health and Human Services, Missoula Police Department, Missoula County Sherriff’s Office, Missoula Interfaith Collaborative, local banks and employers to provide a network of support designed to help recently resettled refugees rapidly become stable members of our community. Members of the community interested in learning more about support services or volunteer opportunities should contact Mary Poole at Soft Landing Missoula at (406) 493-0504.