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February 28, 2023

SVSU faculty receive prestigious grant to host summer institute for K-12 educators

side-by-side portraits of two women

Saginaw Valley State University English professors Natalia Knoblock and Veronika Drake have been awarded a grant of nearly $150,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop and implement a two-week, residential summer institute for K-12 educators. 

The institute, titled “Language and Linguistic Prejudice Related to Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity,” aims to address the contradiction between how many people renounce discrimination related to race, ethnicity, gender and identity, but may continue to hold discriminatory beliefs about language.

Up to 25 participants from across the country will come to SVSU’s campus as part of the grant.

The institute will emphasize the ways many commonly held beliefs about the nature and function of language are discriminatory, and it will suggest more equitable and inclusive approaches to language in the classroom. 

“We are honored to have received this funding and are beyond excited to bring K-12 educators to the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Drake. 

Drake and Knoblock will lead the summer institute; four leading experts will also serve as guest scholars. Teaira McMurtry from The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Trini Stickle from Western Kentucky University, Megan Figueroa from the University of Arizona and co-host of the popular linguistics podcast Vocal Fries, and David Peterson from the University of Nebraska at Omaha each will lead a session during the institute.

“Negative assumptions about people who speak anything other than what is considered ‘standard English’ are so widespread and so entrenched,” Knoblock said. “Such negative views feed into linguistic prejudice and linguistic discrimination and can lead to disparate achievements and learning outcomes for K-12 students.”

The institute will take place at SVSU from July 16-28. It is open to K-12 educators from across the United States. Interested teachers can apply at

Applications will be accepted until Friday, March 3. Successful applicants will be informed by April 3. The NEH grant covers participant stipends; each participant will receive $2,200 to help offset travel and housing expenses. Participants have the option to stay in SVSU residential facilities, which have earned the “best dorms” rating of any public university in the United States.

More information can be found on the institute’s website,

“The Language and Linguistic Prejudice Related to Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity” institute at SVSU has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Institutes for K-12 Educators. In this funding cycle, 16 of 49 applications received funding. A full list of NEH grant winners can be found at