Doyon Foundation receives grant to expand language program

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 9:28 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Doyon Foundation has received a grant to expand their online language program into classroom settings.

Doyon Languages Online, which began in 2012, is an online language education program designed to teach nine Athabascan languages plus Inupiaq. The overall goal of the online tool is to grow the community of speakers for these languages which are “endangered” according to Allan Hayton, the language revitalization program director.

The U.S. Department of Education - Alaska Native Education Program, awarded the Doyon Foundation a grant worth $35.3 million. “It’s a competitive process, we’re very happy to have been selected,” said Hayton. The Doyon Foundation was one 28 selected recipients of the grant.

The funds are being used to push the program into classrooms allowing for in-person education. Effie Kokrine Charter School is piloting the new initiative adding the language classes as an elective class. Hayton said that he is hopeful that by moving the lessons to an in-person environment, younger generations will be more motivated to learn the languages that are heavily connected with the culture. He is also hopeful that the expansion of the revitalization program will also increase the number of teachers available to pass down the language as the current generation of speakers is of “an elderly age.”

In order to receive the grant, the Doyon Foundation was required to partner with a school district and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District agreed to the partnership. If the pilot for the program expansion proves to be successful, Athabascan and Inupiaq language studies could become educational options at other schools around the district.

The Doyon Foundation runs Doyon Languages Online with support from Doyon Limited.