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New York-Based Internationals Network for Public Schools Earns National Award for Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives
Press Release
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New York-Based Internationals Network for Public Schools Earns National Award for Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives

WASHINGTON – The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday announced the four winners of its inaugural E Pluribus Unum national awards for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, with an innovative network of public high schools teaching late-entry immigrant students in New York and California receiving a $50,000 prize.

The E Pluribus Unum Prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy with generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to inspire others to take on this important work and encourage the adoption of effective integration practices.

Internationals Network for Public Schools and the three other E Pluribus Unum Prize winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress featuring remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and other national policymakers. The winners were selected from more than 500 applications received from around the nation.

A highly successful network of 11 small public high schools operating on existing school campuses in New York City and Oakland, California, Internationals is dedicated to educating recently arrived teen-age immigrants – overwhelmingly low-income and limited English proficient – from more than 90 countries and speaking 55 languages.

Serving 3,500 students this year, the network sees 90 percent of its graduates go on to college – a remarkable result considering that the graduation rate for limited English proficient students in New York City stands at just 23.5 percent.

“Immigrant students who arrive in middle and high school have a very short time in which to learn a new language and prepare for high-stakes tests in a wide variety of subjects,” said Margie McHugh, co-director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy.  “As a result, schools across the country are searching for effective ways to help limited English students accelerate their language learning. We therefore felt that Internationals Network for Public Schools was an excellent choice for recognition because it has pioneered a very successful instructional model for these late-entry students, and also has developed a prototype for creating new schools that is on the cutting edge of school reform efforts more generally.”

Recently arrived immigrant high school students confront a range of challenges beyond the typical student experience, said Internationals Executive Director Claire Sylvan. “They’re faced with triple the work of English-speaking native-born students – learning a new language, a new culture and rigorous academic content,” she said.

The first Internationals school, founded 25 years ago on a community college campus in Queens, New York, generated a successful model that was replicated three times prior to the incorporation of Internationals Network as a non-profit in 2004. Since then, through the financial support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the model has been re-created six times in New York City and once in California, with a 12th school opening in San Francisco in August.

Among the network’s successes:

  • By creating an innovative program and effective supports for late-entry immigrants in public schools, Internationals provides a high-result, cost-effective educational model.
  • By focusing on immigrant children who come to the United States later in life, Internationals is allowing these students to maximize their human capital – a gain not just for them but for the broader society.
  • Internationals Network has an internal model of sustainability, demonstrated over a quarter-century, which allows schools to flourish and maintain continuity even when their leaders change.

The Internationals initiative and the three other winners, each given a $50,000 award, are reflective of the diversity of government and non-government organizations involved in immigrant integration efforts. The E Pluribus Unum Prizes were created to foster the sharing of effective integration practices and showcase the need for greater policy focus on immigrant integration.

“There is a pressing need to bolster immigrant integration efforts at the national, state and local levels,” said Michael Fix, MPI senior vice president and co-director of the National Center on Immigrant integration Policy. “Too often our national immigration debate proceeds without addressing immigrant integration issues. Yet, the thousands of groups and individuals engaged in immigrant integration initiatives across the country are ultimately playing the most important role in ensuring that our immigration policies are a success.”

The other E Pluribus Unum Prize winners are: AVANCE-El Paso (El Paso, TX); Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative (Littleton, CO); and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (Nashville, TN).

Additional information about the award winners can be found at www.integrationawards.org. For more information, or to set up interviews, please contact Michelle Mittelstadt at 202-266-1910 or at [email protected].


The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.