The Indigenous Language Institute wins national Verizon Tech Savvy Award

Staff reports
3/31/09

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Indigenous Language Institute’s Intergenerational workshop series is the national winner of the Third Annual Verizon Tech Savvy Awards.

Through the workshop, titled “Ancient Voices, Modern Tools: Native Languages and Technology,” the institute instructs families, students and teachers on how to use technology to develop print and audio books to teach Native American languages at school and home. The institute, based in Santa Fe, N.M., serves 2,000 Native Americans annually, and will receive a $25,000 grant to continue and expand its program.

“Indian country has never shied away from using new tools, and the Indigenous Language Institute regards the incorporation of modern technology and related training as essential and natural in our work to help bring our heritage languages from the brink of extinction,” said the institute’s president, Gerald Hill, a member of the Oneida tribe of Wisconsin. “We have found that joining intergenerational experiences and using the symbiosis of old knowledge and new tools are working.”

The Indigenous Language Institute received its award March 2 at a banquet at the 18th annual National Conference on Family Literacy in Orlando, hosted by the National Center for Family Literacy.

The Verizon Tech Savvy Awards are a joint creation of NCFL, former First Lady of Iowa Christie Vilsack and the Verizon Foundation. The awards are designed to provide an incentive for grassroots, community-based nonprofit organizations and schools to create programs that demystify technology for parents, enabling them to better guide their children in the use of new media.

“In the past, technology has caused a digital divide, but with programs such as the Indigenous Language Institute, technology is becoming a powerful key for learning across all socioeconomic groups and asserting its potential as a great equalizer in education,” said Vilsack.

“Technology is a tremendous tool in efforts to expand educational opportunities for all children and improve literacy,” said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. “To truly improve educational achievement in the 21st century, learning must stretch well beyond the school day and into community programs and homes.”

Details of the programs honored at the Verizon Tech Savvy Awards will be added to the Verizon Foundation’s Thinkfinity.org Web site to serve as an educational resource, highlighting best practices and approaches for technology literacy for people of all ages. The free, comprehensive site contains thousands of educational resources including lesson plans, online educational activities, videos and other materials to enhance teacher effectiveness and improve student achievement.

“Education and literacy are more important today than ever, especially in light of our current economic challenges,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of the NCFL. “The Tech Savvy Awards recognize exemplary efforts and best practices that expand parents’ and children’s learning with 21st century technology.”

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