NE BOCES receives $2 million Rural CoAction grant through APR ESSER III
June 8, 2022
Northeast Board of Cooperative Educational Services recently received official notification of its two-year $2 million Rural CoAction Grant award. The Rural CoAction Grant is being funded through the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER III) funds.
The Rural CoAction Program, launched through Colorado Department of Education, is intended to create new and further develop existing partnerships and pathways for learning in our rural communities. NE BOCES and its 12 member districts already work together through collaborative action (aka “CoAction”) to increase opportunities for students across their regions. These grant funds are intended to accelerate learning opportunities and increase student engagement via development of additional career pathways, apprenticeships, internships, industry certifications, and expansion of career-connected learning opportunities.
Tamara Durbin, NE BOCES Executive Director and one of the key authors of this grant application, reiterated the benefit this massive grant award will afford area students, schools and communities.
"We are so thankful for our Rural Coaction Grant,” she said. “I know this grant will positively impact our students and communities for a lifetime. We will be able to offer quality programming for our students that matches their career interests, while building the economies of our communities with employable, highly trained youth."
With these funds, the districts and NE BOCES will address post-secondary planning, career awareness and exploration, career preparation, career pathway development and post-secondary career pipelines.
“Our schools have always been strong with concurrent enrollment, encouraging high school students to get a headstart in earning college credits on their journey toward an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree,” said Durbin. “This grant will allow us to do the same for students interested in the trades.”
NE BOCES has already begun cultivating industry partners to support students along the CCL Continuum.
“Institutions of higher education — Northeastern Junior College and Morgan Community College — will also play a significant role in supporting the development and expansion of pathways across the BOCES and member school districts,” said Alan Nall, NE BOCES Director of Secondary Support Services and another key author of the grant application.
"Truly, this initiative is a group effort,” explained Durbin. “I've heard from many Board members, superintendents, principals, counselors, parents and others about the importance of providing career-connected learning opportunities for our students. Our 12 member school districts have been doing so; with this grant, we can do more."
Some work is already in progress and will be used to leverage planning and implementation efforts over the project period. Examples of expanded and/or new Career and Technical Education programs through this grant work may include various pathways of the Colorado Career Cluster Model, including: Destinations Career Academy Direct, offered by the Julesburg School District, and construction, health sciences, energy, art and design, food and hospitality, information technology, web design, aviation and flight and business.
NE BOCES will partner with Colorado Education Initiative and Colorado Succeeds as the Rural Coaction Coaches for this NE BOCES grant.
"Colorado Education Initiative, a non-profit organization, is our vital partner on this grant, shared Durbin. “CEI elevates innovative ideas around critical, systemic issues in education across the state of Colorado and we are fortunate to have them working with us in northeast Colorado, as they've done the last two school years in the Holyoke School District."
Another critical partner is Colorado Succeeds, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to the continuous improvement of our State’s education system. They assist in shaping the future of Colorado’s workforce.
“They will be helping us develop business partnerships across our districts and communities so our students have more first-hand knowledge about the careers they are seeking and have a chance to learn from the hard-working, quality professionals working in our area," added Durbin.
NE BOCES and the member districts have been on a multi-year path to strengthen CCL. Rural Coaction Program Grant is a game changer that will accelerate the realization of their shared vision and enable implementation that before was continually met with funding, scheduling, distance and transportation barriers. This grant allows the BOCES and member districts to build on great work already started.