DENVER – The school districts of Hayden and South Routt have been awarded a $1,050,500 Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) grant from Governor Polis’ Emergency Education Relief Fund. These Northwest Colorado districts are addressing their economic and educational equity gaps through an innovative regional approach.
Colorado Succeeds, who supported the districts as a Planning and Design Support Partner, will continue to work closely with Hayden and South Routt as a design and implementation partner, supporting overall project management as well as bringing in strategic training, technical assistance, and evaluation supports in collaboration with Homegrown Talent Initiative partner Colorado Education Initiative. Colorado State University and its Routt County Extension Office will also support the program development.
The regional collaboration will share existing strong programs, staffing, and resources as they co-create and implement an aligned PK-12 curriculum and pathways model for all students. Diverse and relevant pathways will include those to honor the historical vitality of the Yampa Valley (agriculture, tourism), leverage present in-demand jobs (skilled trades), and build sustainable pathways of the future (energy, technology, entrepreneurship) – all linked to student and economic need. Real-world hands-on experiences for students such as a food production and processing kitchen, greenhouses for sustainable practices, shops for auto mechanics, welding, and construction; and mobile labs with storefronts designed and constructed by students crosscutting all pathways will be implemented. Hayden and South Routt will also increase parent and community engagement as well as their capacity for innovation and change through ongoing training and technical assistance.
Small rural school districts across Colorado face well-known challenges providing and sustaining access to high-quality innovative learning experiences as well as diverse economic opportunities. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has only further compounded the existing, ever-present barriers rural communities like those in Routt County face daily, such as transportation and travel times, economic opportunity, housing and cost of living, broadband access, declining enrollment, and teacher shortages. Further, the pandemic revealed a harsh reality that the food system is broken – a new realization for many in Routt County accustomed to its local ranching roots. This, coupled with the imminent closures of local coal mines, presents an opportunity and urgency to revitalize their schools and economy.
“Support from the RISE Education Fund allows us to revitalize the region’s agricultural roots and build sustainable pathways of the future through regional collaboration and an investment in the next generation of students who will take the Yampa Valley to and through the unknown future that lies ahead,” said Hayden School District Superintendent Dr. Christy Sinner. “Hayden and South Routt School Districts, its students, families, and local partners deeply appreciate this support through which we can realize our shared vision for the future of the Yampa Valley.”
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