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RBC | Yesterday, Governor Polis announced the second round of Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Fund awardees to innovate and transform public education. The RISE fund was created to support innovation in high-needs school districts, charter schools, and public institutions of higher education to address the learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19 in a manner that creates sustainable innovations that improve student learning, close equity gaps, and enhance operational efficiency for pre-K-12 through higher education.
Among the recipients was a joint proposal from Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) and Colorado Mountain College (CMC) for $2.9 million.
“Every Colorado student should have access to a quality education and these amazing ideas and innovative programs from improving early childhood education to increasing apprenticeship opportunities for high-schoolers will help improve our schools and build back stronger than before the pandemic,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’ve spent the majority of my life pushing for innovation and excellence in education and these focused investments will make a transformative positive impact on the lives of Colorado’s kids and families today and for the future.”
The $2.9 million RISE grant is the largest grant awarded in this cycle and focuses on expanding concurrent enrollment offerings to the 10,500 high school students in the schools’ combined service area.
“We are excited and grateful to the state of Colorado and the organizations that fund these grants,” expressed Ron Granger, President of Colorado Northwestern Community College. “This money will help dramatically strengthen and formalize connections with our high schools and our two colleges here in central and northwestern Colorado.
For CNCC’s portion of the grant, they will significantly rethink the student experience in higher education, and provide new student-focused models of learning in concurrent enrollment and higher education delivery.
“The RISE funds will allow CNCC to upgrade and improve equipment at partner high schools,” said Keith Peterson, Vice President of Instruction at Colorado Northwestern Community College. “These improvements along with a new mobile STEM lab will enable CNCC to offer a higher quality and broader range of college level classes to concurrent enrollment students in our local high schools.”
Thanks to the generous support of funders, including the Gates Family Foundation and Gary Community Investments, almost half of the grantees received resources and strategic design support for the RISE fund earlier this year. This planning and design support opportunity helped potential grantees conduct strong community engagement efforts and strategic design processes. This opportunity allowed the RISE fund to reach grantees from every geographic region in the state.
“The central mountains and far northwest region of Colorado are incredibly beautiful and attract visitors from across the globe,” stated Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, President & CEO of Colorado Mountain College. “These same communities are also particularly susceptible to economic downturns and natural disasters such as the devastating wildfires of this past summer,” she added. “With funding from RISE, CMC is pleased to aid in the region’s economic recovery by partnering with Colorado Northwestern Community College, 17 school districts and 54 rural high schools to restore concurrent enrollment programs toppled by the pandemic, build the state’s most extensive network of technology-enabled classrooms, and dramatically expand access to college courses for students in western Colorado.”
RISE award winners represent a wide range of eligible applicants, including small and mid-size school districts, BOCES, charter schools, and mid- and large-size public institutions of higher education.
The state has partnered with the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, to conduct rigorous evaluations of the RISE grantees so the rest of the state and country can learn from what works. The goal of this process is to ensure that school districts, schools, institutions of higher education, can learn from the best practices developed through these innovative projects.
As with the previous awards, all of the recipients were chosen by a group of parents, students, and education leaders.
“The second-round recipients of the RISE Fund are poised to deliver the promise and innovation our students and communities need now more than ever,” said Mike Johnston, chair of the RISE grant selection committee and CEO of Gary Community Investments. “These local leaders have developed innovative approaches to address the deep educational inequalities that have been exacerbated by COVID. As we start to build our way out of the pandemic, their ingenuity, backed with critical state resources, will pioneer a set of solutions to ensure Colorado emerges on better education footing than before this crisis started.”
*Due to additional resources for GEER from the federal government, grant amounts are subject to additional negotiation with the Governor’s office with an updated end date of September 2023.
RISE Committee members include Mike Johnston, Dr. Tara Raines, Josh Scott, David Olguin, Maurice Robinson, Marty Guitierrez, Elizabeth Thompson-Barrett, Ernest House, Nina Lopez, Pat Chlouber, Dan Baer, Kelly Latterman, Jill Anschutz, Jeff Durbin, and Allie Kimmel.
PRESS RELEASE | Special to the Herald Times