Governor Polis Announces Education Grant for the San Luis Valley

DENVER - Governor Polis announced today the first round of Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Fund awardees. In September, Gov. Polis announced the $32.7 million RISE fund supports 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.

“The COVID pandemic highlighted many deep, systemic inequities facing the children of San Luis, said Kimba Rael, principal of Centennial High School. "Receiving this RISE grant provides our students with much-needed opportunities to recover from the inequities of the pandemic, and, more importantly, to take a giant step towards leveling the playing field for our students in digital learning spaces in ways that both sustain and share the rich and meaningful history of our area to ensure our story is told and does not become lost nor neglected."

”My administration is committed to expanding opportunities for San Luis Valley residents and all of our rural communities and ensuring that our entire state is better prepared for our future. This grant to Centennial R-1 will help get the San Luis Valley and Colorado get closer to that goal,” said Governor Jared Polis. 

All of the recipients were chosen by a group of parents, students, and education leaders. 

"These initial recipients of the RISE Fund represent a diverse and forward-focused group of organizations that are each uniquely positioned to support the students and communities who have been hit hardest by COVID," said Mike Johnston, chair of the RISE grant selection committee and CEO of Gary Community Investments. "These innovative leaders will not only help us find solutions to the crises created by COVID, but will also envision and build new approaches to solving some of the long-standing educational inequities that need powerful, fresh ideas built from the ground up."

Recipients of the RISE Fund include: 

  • Centennial BOCES: $482,091 for a partnership between the Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado, UNC,  and CSU to improve student and family outcomes for migrant families. 

  • Fort Lewis College: $3,607,096 for the Southwest Colorado District Collaborative, a partnership between Pueblo Community College and Southwest CO school districts to pool resources and build strong postsecondary pathways for students in the build trades and environmental science.

  • Lake County School District: $492,149 for a Mobile Learning Center that will be housed in a repurposed school bus to bring school-based resources and learning opportunities directly to students. 

  • Academy of Advanced Learning and Coperni 2&3: $723,000 to reimagine school by advancing a “one classroom, three locations” instructional model and providing credit to students for experiences, not just academic learning. 

  • University of Northern Colorado: $2,369,999 for a partnership with Weld County District 6 to improve kindergarten readiness for children with disabilities. 

  • Peyton School District: $852,541 to develop an innovative postsecondary and workforce readiness program in partnership with neighboring postsecondary institutions. 

  • Silverton School Districts: $297,500 to bring the Silverton School campus into their communities’ homes by expanding family outreach, choice, and supporting families’ needs like food, rent, mental and physical health .

  • Elizabeth School District: $555,909 for a partnership between Big Sandy, Calhan, Elbert, and the Colorado Education Initiative to develop intentional career pathways in cybersecurity, construction, and agriculture. 

  • Montrose County School District RE-1J: $846,320 for a partnership between Hilltop Family Resource Center, Center for Mental Health (CMH), and local police departments to address adverse childhood experiences.

  • Centennial School District R-1: $851,369 for a partnership with History Colorado to integrate local San Luis Valley history into social studies, civics, and history curriculum. 

  • Clear Creek School District: $375,700 to partner with their students to create and implement a student-led  CCSD Recovery Plan that includes resource realignment, professional learning, and community building.

  • Charter School Institute:  $277,591 to provide targeted academic support to students at all three campuses of the New America Schools.

  • Metro State University of Denver: $2,385,045 for a structured educational pathway to successfully motivate and lead students of color, underserved, and rural students from 9th grade through college graduation and into the Colorado workforce, particularly in rural areas. 

RISE award winners come from diverse geographic regions, including Pikes Peak, Southwest Colorado, Northwest, West Central, North Central, and the Metropolitan regions.