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Governor grants charter schools $2.25 million to improve engagement

The goal is to help diverse learners who have struggled with remote learning during the pandemic.

DENVER — Keeping students engaged during the pandemic is an issue for Reach Charter School and Principal Jason Marsh.

"Well, I think that each kid with unique learning styles makes it tricky," Marsh said.

Reach is one of 13 charter schools and one Denver Public Schools Innovation Zone school receiving part of a $2.25 million grant from the governor's Recovery Innovation and Student Equity Fund or RISE. The goal is to find ways to increase engagement during remote learning.

"You know, we're not originally an online program and everybody has to adjust and be flexible," Marsh said.

Kaci Coats runs the Collaborative of Exceptional Education as part of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Coats said the issue is often with students described as diverse learners, such as students with special needs, gifted and talented students, or English Language Learners.

"They are not excited about school, not engaging with the content and then we also have students that are just not engaging period," Coats said. "In general, students who have any learning needs outside of the average learner has really struggled this year."

Part of the money will also go to 11 charter schools in Denver to offer an extended school year to about 2,000 students who might need more support.

"By providing them with some additional time at the end of the school year and creating space for them to come in and get more student-centered focus and support," Coats said.

Struggling during the pandemic is something happening to students in schools around Colorado, Coats said.

"What we're hoping to do at the end of this is collect the strategies and what we have found works really well and be able to share that with other schools in the state," Coats said.

The RISE grant will give $1.48 million to improve engagement at Academy 360, Animas High School, Carbondale Community School, Girls Athletic Leadership School (high and middle schools), Global Village Academy, McAuliffe International School (DPS innovation zone school), New Legacy Charter School, Pagosa Peak Open School, REACH Charter School, Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, Steamboat Montessori, STRIVE Prep Montbello and Thomas MacLaren School.

Another $595,700 will be given to 11 charter schools in Denver to extend the school year: RiseUP Community School, Academy of Urban Learning, Colorado High School Charter – Osage Campus, Colorado High School Charter – GES Campus, The Cube, Odyssey School, Academy 360, Highline Academy – Northeast Campus, Highline Academy – Southeast Campus, Girls Athletic Leadership School (middle and high schools).

Marsh said he's excited to hopefully find solutions for his students -- for all students.

"One specific approach is not gonna work for everybody, so we're looking for dynamic approaches to serve our kids effectively," Marsh said.


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