Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy
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615-576-0339
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PO Box 60091
Nashville, TN 37206
Organization Details

Statements

Mission

The Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy works to ensure that every Tennessee student has the means and opportunity to receive a Seal of Biliteracy honor upon graduation. Our award program celebrates the diverse linguistic assets that students across the state bring to our communities and encourages all students to pursue biliteracy as a 21st Century workforce skill.

Background

The Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy, a designated 501(c)(3) located in Nashville, Tennessee, began the first Seal of Biliteracy award program in Tennessee during academic year 2019. Our organization seeks to ensure that every Tennessee student has the means and opportunity to receive a Seal of Biliteracy award upon high school graduation and to close the gaps in awareness, funding, and language assessment equity that inhibit the growth of the program throughout our state.

Our work seeks to both highlight and honor the many languages that Tennessee's students bring to our communities and to encourage all students across our state to pursue biliteracy by high school graduation. We believe that if every Tennessee student has the opportunity and means to receive the Seal of Biliteracy, then students across the state, including those from traditionally underserved populations, will be uniquely prepared for careers in Tennessee's expanding multilingual job market and will be better positioned as competitive post-secondary applicants and students.

Impact

Since 2019, more than 550 students across Tennessee have received the Seal of Biliteracy in recognition of their academic and linguistic accomplishments. Graduates have earned the award in more than 10 languages and we continue to expand the number of languages the award is earned in each year. This year, more than 40 schools across the state are participating in the award program and we anticipate approximately 350 recipients this year alone.

Our innovative approaches to providing program and material support ensures that we are able to remove barriers and provide personalized support for rural, suburban, and urban schools, to foster equitable practices at all participating schools, and to grow college and career opportunities for recipients. We provide world language assessment support for participating Title I schools, which allows eligible students to receive an assessment in their home or second language in more than 40 languages at no cost to the school or student. This year, we have purchased a total of 89 assessments in Arabic, Amharic, French, Hindi, Spanish, and Thai.

Seal of Biliteracy recipient Isabella R. shares that "Every Tennessee student brings their own beautiful cultures and languages to the table. When we make space for all of them, we commit to creating an inclusive and equitable community. The Seal represents not just my commitment to excelling in an academic subject, but the hard work put in to build a lifelong skill." Marina Y., another Seal of Biliteracy recipient, shares that "The Seal of Biliteracy gives me tangible proof that my second language is not a disadvantage to my American life, but an advantage which is valued in academics as well as in the workforce."

Last academic year, we began our Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy Scholarship Award program and provided one $500 and one $1,000 scholarship for exceptional biliterate graduates, which we will continue to offer this year. Additionally, we piloted our Pathway to Biliteracy Award for middle schoolers this year and will expand the award program to additional schools across Tennessee next year. During next academic year, we will also begin our Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy Ambassador Program, funding permitting, a one-year program designed to support exceptional biliterate leaders as they leave high school and enter college and career. Ambassadors will be provided with yearlong mentorship as they craft an Impact Project that highlights the importance of cultural competencies, world and heritage language education, and/or 21st century workforce readiness.

Needs

We believe that if every Tennessee student has the opportunity and means to receive the Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy, then students across the state, including those from traditionally underserved populations, will be uniquely prepared for careers in Tennessee's expanding multilingual job market and will be better positioned as competitive post-secondary applicants and students.‚Äč The Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy award program works to close the gaps in testing, awareness, and funding to allow every eligible student in Tennessee to receive the Seal of Biliteracy upon high school graduation, while also encouraging the growth of heritage- and world-language programs, including Early Post-Secondary Opportunity coursework, and supports for the state's growing population of English Language Learners and Non-English Language Background Students through collaboration and support with local education agencies, post-secondary leaders, the business community, and community organizations. To achieve our goals, we provide training, program support, testing assistance for Title I schools, award materials, and college and career opportunities to participating schools throughout the state and seek both short- and long-term support from community partners and individuals.


Service Categories

Primary Category: Education  - Secondary & High Schools 
Secondary Category: Youth Development  - Youth Development Programs 
Tertiary Category: Employment  - Vocational Counseling/Guidance/Testing 

Areas Served

Across Tennessee, 45 schools have or are currently participating in the Seal of Biliteracy award through Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy: 18 are located in East Tennessee, 22 are located in Middle Tennessee, and 4 are located in West Tennessee. In Davidson County, there are currently 12 participating schools. More than 40% of our schools are designated as Title I, 19 schools, and are eligible to receive Equitable Testing Support from the Volunteer State Seal of Biliteracy.

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