Sponsor a School

Sponsor a School

Studying a foreign language is basic to understanding another culture.

This is particularly true in the case of Russia.

Students of Russian today will be tommorow's most influential voices for interpreting Russian politics, foreign policy, economics and culture.

But the study of Russian in the United States is facing critical challenges:

  • Since 1998, 136 high schools and middle schools that previously had Russian programs have terminated them. Today, Russian is being taught in just an estimated 125 schools nationwide.
  • Eleven states have just one pre-college level program in Russian. Fifteen have no Russian program at all.
  • There are now just 7,000 students of Russian at the pre-college level versus 17,000 just over a decade ago.
  • In the last decade, college enrollments in Russian have fallen by nearly half (from around 44,000 to 25,000 students), to roughly 1980 levels.
  • Half of the country's 200+ Russian departments report declining enrollments.
  • Only about 2% of all students studying a language in college are studying Russian — below that for either Latin or Italian.

What can be done?

A recent Mellon Foundation survey found that the vast majority of American language teachers feel the study of culture is a vital element in introductory language study. And the more the better. There is the widespread belief among teachers that, if beginning students of Russian can be exposed to the richness of Russian culture, history and society, they are more likely to become intrigued by Russia and inspired to continue on with their study of the language. And the more people studying Russian, the better chance that the US and Russia will better understand each other a decade or a generation from now.

This is where Russian Life comes in. We may be biased, but what better vehicle could there be to expose students to Russia's rich culture, history and society?

Teachers agree. Hundreds of teachers of Russian have contacted Russian Life, saying they would love to distribute the magazine to their students, for exactly the purposes noted above. But school funding cuts make this impossible, even at special class-discounted subscription rates.

In response, nearly two decades ago Russian Life inaugurated a special Education Patron Program to underwrite distribution of Russian Life to Russian language students in the United States. Subscribers and friends of the magazine make small donations each year to sponsor this school distribution program. Together, these donations from hundreds of readers put Russian Life into over 200 US schools and universities.

In 2008, the Russkiy Mir Fund became a major sponsor of Russian Life's Education Patron Program. As a result, the Program was radically expanded in 2009 to reach over 200 high schools and universities in the U.S. currently teaching Russian, affecting 10-15,000 students!

In 2010, this program was renamed "Language Through Culture" to more explicitly indicate its mission and action. Russkiy Mir renewed its support for the program, albeit at a reduced level versus 2008-2009, necessitating the continued involvement of private donors. But after 2010, Russky Mir ended its support for the program. 

At present, the program continues through individual donations from readers. Donors select a school to receive their gift of annual subscriptions, then purchase 5, 10, or more classroom copies at a drastically reduced annual rate.

Please join us

As an Education Patron, your donations will directly support high school and college students in their study of Russian. 

What some teachers are saying...

“The magazine is the students’ primary conduit to Russian life and culture. Without it, I think that learning the language would be merely an abstract exercise. I pass out the magazine at the end of the class period; when I passed it out before class began, it was difficult to get the students to put it aside...”

“The arrival of the magazine is always treated as if it were a holiday.”

“They are invaluable! They create interest and enthusiasm for Russian language and culture, and serve as the center of class discussions and projects. They love the magazines! Russia comes alive to them, and they can see important reasons to learn to speak Russian.”

“Students embrace the magazine with relish... The magazine certainly catalyzes language study by feeding young minds hungry for fresh information.”

...more teacher comments


Information For Teachers

If you are a teaching Russian at an American elementary, middle, high school or college and wish to be added to our database of requestor schools, please contact us by email. But please first check here first to see if we already have your school in our database.

Schools with funding for teaching resources may "self sponsor" and take advantage of the Language Through Culture program at a special classroom subscription rate.

Statistical sources: Committee on College and Pre-College Russian, 2001 Fall Report; “Successful College and University Foreign Language Programs,” David Goldberg and Elizabeth Welles, Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, 1991 (www.adfl.org); Foreign Language Enrollments in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 1998 (ADFL Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 2, Winter 2000, www.adfl.org); Russian Life in-house data gathering and polling of schools.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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