SANTA FE – The New Mexico Higher Education Department has awarded $3.8 Million via the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) to support students and educational institutions in the transition to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 30 public higher education institutions, partnering K-12 school districts and community organizations will benefit from the funding, which will go toward improving internet connectivity, equipping students, families, and educators with technology, enhancing online education and services for students, and developing online workforce training programs. Other allowable activities include providing childcare services and preparing small businesses to operate online.
“It is vital that we support our educational partners in continuing to serve students while protecting our communities in the wake of the greatest health crisis our state has ever faced,” Acting Higher Education Cabinet Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said. “The resources provided by the GEER Fund will not only allow our state to meet the challenges brought by the pandemic, but will equip students for success in the 21st century.”
As a surge in positive COVID-19 cases drives more instruction online, so has the need to support online learning. Nearly a quarter of students in New Mexico lack internet access and many lack access to adequate computer technology.
GEER is an education stabilization fund out of the U.S. Department of Education. Under the GEER Fund, the federal government awards grants to governors for the purpose of providing local education agencies, higher education institutions and other education entities with emergency assistance as a result of COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Education released a total of $2.9 billion to governors nationwide. New Mexico was awarded over $22 million, which is split among the state education agencies.
Awardees are evaluated on their ability to demonstrate need and potential impact, proposed activities to benefit underserved and at-risk populations, cost efficiency, and project support such as matching funds and strategic partnerships. Recipients are required to submit quarterly and annual reports to evaluate project impact and success.
NMHED has awarded the following institutions, consortia, and partnerships via the GEER Fund:
The Consortium of Higher-Education Computing/Communication Services (CHECS) – Includes 30 public two-year, four-year, and tribal colleges and universities statewide.
Northern New Mexico Consortium Partners – Includes New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico College, San Juan College, the Northeastern Regional Education Cooperative, and the Northern Area Local Workforce Development Board.
- New Mexico Junior College – In partnership with the Lea County Distance Education Consortium and the Center for Community College Student Engagement.
- New Mexico State University: ConnectED Communities Collaborative (NM-C3) – Includes New Mexico State University (NMSU) Outreach Programs; Colleges of Education, Arts and Sciences, and ACES Cooperative Extension Service, school districts across the state, the New Mexico Public Education Department, Ngage New Mexico, Families and Youth, Inc, and regional education cooperatives.
- New Mexico State University – Carlsbad – In partnership with Loving Municipal Schools.