REEES Grant Brings STARTALK Summer Russian Language School to Pitt-Greensburg

The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REEES) will host 20 high school students for a four-week residential STARTALK Russian language program at Pitt-Greensburg during summer 2015.  REEES will select 10 rising sophomore, junior or senior high school students from Pittsburgh Brashear High School and another 10 from Pritzker College Prep in Chicago.  The students will be selected based on their academic records and teacher recommendations, and they must either currently be taking Russian language classes or plan to begin taking Russian during the 2015-16 school year as part of their high school curriculum. 

“STARTALK is a wonderful opportunity for high school students, particularly those from underrepresented minority and lower-income populations, to gain knowledge of Russian language and culture,” says Gina Peirce, REEES’s assistant director for grants, outreach, and assessment.  “The program is free to all students and will increase their readiness to succeed in college.”

The awarding of the STARTALK grant of almost $54,000 on February 4, 2015 will make REEES the organizer of the only STARTALK Russian language program in Pennsylvania.  

The University of Pittsburgh STARTALK Summer Russian Language School will run from June 22 to July 17, 2015.  It will offer Russian I for students new to the language and Russian II for students who have had one year of high school instruction.  The curriculum will be based on the theme Cultural Diversity in Russia, focusing on both ethnic diversity and the diversity of youth and popular culture in contemporary Russia, including music, film, television, print media and internet culture. 

In order to offer STARTALK, REEES will draw on the extensive experience of its faculty and staff in administering Pitt’s Slavic, East European and Near Eastern Summer Language Institute, which offers intensive proficiency-based instruction in up to 14 languages annually to college students throughout the U.S., and in coordinating K-12 outreach programs as a U.S. Department of Education-funded Title VI National Resource Center.


STARTALK is a program established by President Bush in 2006 as part of the National Security Language Initiative to expand the nation’s capacity in critical languages, such as Russian.  The intent of STARTALK is to provide summer language learning courses and teacher certification in less commonly taught languages for students and teachers at levels K-16.  The program is funded by the National Security Agency/Central Security Service.

About the Schools

Pittsburgh Brashear High School is a large socioeconomically and racially diverse public high school.  Pritzker College Prep is a public charter high school in Chicago that serves a primarily lower-income Latino population.