HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The University of Alabama Huntsville in partnership with Madison County Schools, Huntsville City and Madison City Schools launched “Designing Instruction for Academic Literacies” or “Project DIAL” Monday morning.

A $2.8 million grant awarded by the US Department of Education will help fund the project as an initiative to help local educators serve English Learners in the Madison County, greater Huntsville area.

More than 3,000 students across all three school districts are English Learners. English Learner Students are students in K-12 schools who are non-native speakers of English.

Madison County Schools has seen a “tremendous” amount of growth in the past few years. According to Federal Programs Research Specialist with Madison County Schools Jessica Aguirre-Santrell, the English Learner population in Madison County has grown by nearly 180 percent since 2018.

Huntsville City Schools has over 2,000 English Learners spread across 50 languages while Madison City Teaches approximately 850 English Learner Students from 51 countries.

Project DIAL allows teachers to earn a Master’s degree from UAH, which provides the special skills needed to work with these students.

“It really gives us hope that we will be able to bring support to educators at a time when it’s sorely needed,” said Project Director Andrea Word-Allbritton. “Also, to be able to support these multi-lingual learners who have tons of knowledge and skills that are remarkable assets for our communities.”