Governor Polis Announces Millions in Education Grants for Colorado

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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.

“This is an exciting day for Colorado, a real opportunity to learn from the challenges that kids, families, and teachers are going through this year to double down on innovation, better serve students, and improve our schools,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are so thrilled to be able to provide well-deserved resources to implement inspiring projects, partnerships, and ideas. As a former educational entrepreneur, I feel passionate about innovation and excellence in education and look forward to these targeted investments making a real difference for kids and families.”

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

“This pandemic has disproportionately impacted students, schools, and communities like mine that serve low-income students and students of color," said Maurice Robinson, a sophomore at Empower High School in Aurora and a RISE Committee review member. “I was proud to be a part of making real change for my community and a part of the RISE Review process and to help provide resources for innovative proposals to help close equity gaps and ensure that every student has a chance to succeed in school.” 

“MSU Denver believes that our access mission is critical to Colorado’s economic recovery, but also to continuing the long-term growth the state experienced pre-COVID19,” said MSU Denver President Dr. Janine Davidson. "We are thrilled to be among a group of innovative organizations seeking to open opportunity through innovation to all Coloradans. Specifically, our ‘Pathway to Possible’ program will create a new business model for student success; one where high schools, post-secondary institutions, and industries work collaboratively to support the academic and career success of low-income students and students of color.”

"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."

"Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) schools have maintained a focus on meeting the unique needs of their school communities while innovating and rising to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic," said CSI Executive Director Terry Croy Lewis. “We are excited for our schools that will receive RISE funding to support their plans to create sustainable innovations that can address learning challenges.”

Recipients include: 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

RISE award winners come from diverse geographic regions, including Pikes Peak, Southwest Colorado, Northwest, West Central, North Central, and the Metropolitan regions. The second round of RISE applications are due on December 19th at 5 pm. You can find more information about the RISE Education grant process here

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. 

RISE Committee members include Mike Johnston, Dr. Tara Raines, David Olguin, Maurice Robinson, Marty Guitierrez, Elizabeth Thompson-Barrett, Ernest House, Nina Lopez, Pat Chlouber, Peter Groff, Jill Anschutz, Jeff Durbin, and Allie Kimmel.