Effective Curriculum for English Learner Success

Sobrato Philanthropies’ vision is for all English Learners (ELs) in California to engage, learn, and thrive. 

Sobrato Philanthropies has engaged educators serving EL students to strengthen the teaching and learning in classrooms across the state since 2008. We partner with parents, students, advocates, researchers, and policymakers to ensure schools have what they need to provide a rigorous and joyful education to not only ELs but to all students. We’ve seen that a strong curriculum in the hands of well-trained and supported teachers has the potential to be transformative for ELs.

Curriculum and instruction are central to shaping both what and how students are taught. Teachers must adapt both of these in order for ELs to master the same academic skills as their English-speaking peers. New curriculum needs to embed strong language development, culturally and linguistically responsive content, and scaffold these approaches to allow ELs to succeed. Philanthropy has an important role to play in supporting the development, adoption, and effective use of such curriculum. 

Sobrato Philanthropies series of briefs, “Effective Curriculum for English Learner Success,” grapples with several aspects of curriculum and materials that are key to philanthropic investment in educational equity reform for ELs. Each brief focuses on different aspects of what it means to address the “curriculum” portion of creating EL responsive and effective schools.


This series was conceived and authored by Laurie Olsen, Ph.D. We are grateful for review and input provided by Alesha Moreno-Ramirez (Director, Multilingual Support Division, California Department of Education), Crystal Gonzales (Executive Director, English Learners Success Forum), and Nicole Knight (Executive Director, English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement, Oakland Unified School District).