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On Monday, Governor Jared Polis announced that the final round of applications for the Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Fund are now available for schools. This round is specifically targeted toward serving students attending schools and districts in turnaround status and school districts stressed during the recent pandemic closures and it specifically focuses on the needs of rural school districts.

Previous rounds of RISE grants have supported innovation in high-needs school districts, charter schools, mobile education programs, and collaboration with higher education to improve student learning, close equity gaps, and enhance operational efficiency for pre-K-12 through higher education.

“With kids going back to school across Colorado, now is a great time to announce additional resources to support strong ideas for innovation and change,” said Gov. Polis. “Ensuring every Colorado student has access to high-quality education has been a priority since day one, and we are excited to continue this work with another round of transformative RISE grants for our low-performing schools and districts to help ensure that all kids have access to a great education.”

Polis launched the RISE fund in 2020 to provide bold support to schools addressing the learning challenges related to the economic, social, and health impacts of COVID-19. He announced the first two rounds of RISE grant recipients in November 2020 and January 2021 respectively, and applications for this targeted final round are now open.  To learn more and apply, visit https://www.colorado.gov/governor/risefund.

School districts across the state that have already received this transformational funding in previous grant cycles cheered the impact of this program.

Salida’s Longfellow Elementary School. Photo by Jan Wondra

“As small rural communities in Northwest Colorado, providing and sustaining access to high-quality innovative learning experiences as well as diverse economic opportunities has been a well-known challenge,” said Hayden School District Superintendent Dr. Christy Sinner, (2021 RISE Grant recipient). “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. 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.”

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to further partner with other HSI community college colleagues and the various school districts serving rural southern Colorado to enhance teaching and learning opportunities for all students,” said Dr. Patty Erjavec, President, Pueblo Community College, (2021 RISE Grant recipient). “This collaboration is sure to align both our financial and human resources in providing pathways of study that would not have been made possible otherwise.  Student success is at the heart of all we do, and as such, look for great things to come.”

“St. Vrain is honored to be selected as a RISE Grant recipient and we look forward to collaborating with several other Colorado school districts. This excellent opportunity will greatly support our commitment to advancing academic foundations through innovative design and increasing student achievement in literacy. The RISE Grant will further support our students in developing a strong, competitive advantage necessary to succeed in our highly competitive, global environment,” said St. Vrain Valley School District Superintendent Don Haddad, (2021 RISE Grant recipient).

“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to receive the funding that will allow our district to focus on authentic learning by implementing real-world problem-based learning through entrepreneurship and service learning,” said Campo School District Superintendent Nikki Johnson, (2021 RISE Grant recipient). “Our community will witness first-hand the amazing results of motivated students having the resources and support needed to apply what they are learning in unique and creative ways.”

“We are very excited to be chosen as one of the Colorado districts to be awarded the Governor’s RISE grant,” said Cortez School District Superintendent Lori Haukeness, (2021 RISE Grant recipient). “Through the grant the district will be able to more effectively address the students’ needs at the secondary level by strategically aligning the counseling services at the secondary level to better meet the  social-emotional needs of our students.”

“The grant will support the creation of the high school’s  graduation pathways which will include post-secondary readiness skills and a mentoring program aligned to the M-CHS Profile of Successful Graduate,” she added. “Through the systemic work the high school will be able to provide personalized graduation pathways with dynamic course scheduling and hybrid classes to allow students to further personalize internships and maximize concurrent enrollment opportunities.”

Applications, frequently asked questions and more information can be found here.