Investing in Rural Communities
Colorado is where the Nathan Yip Foundation has grown its roots. Here, at home, our goal is to provide teachers and students in rural Colorado with equal access to learning opportunities.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, 80% (147 of Colorado’s 178) school districts are in rural areas. While these schools often have small student populations, they represent a critical aspect of our education system.
Rural school districts are often understaffed and cut off from resources and access to the same learning opportunities and experiences as their urban peers.
Whether it's sheer geographic distance or lack of funding, rural schools and communities are often overlooked and need support bridging the gap.
OUR STRATEGY &PLANS
Rural communities are the heart of America. After seeing our success in improving education quality and access in remote areas of China, the Nathan Yip Foundation is continuing that traditional by supporting teachers and students in Colorado's rural schools.
We are committed to reaching students in some of Colorado's most underserved communities and work directly with stakeholders so that we know our work is thoughtful, sustainable, and fits with the school's needs. By building these partnerships with the communities we serve, we open communication channels that allow us to get to the root of each school's unique needs and work together to craft innovative solutions.
GRASSROOTS IMPACT DRIVEN BY LOCAL CULTURE
During our first year supporting Colorado's rural communities, we have developed relationships through our projects in the San Luis Valley, on the Eastern Plains, and in the Southwest’s Four Corners region. By working directly with schools and
district administrators, we get grassroots buy-in and ensure that our programs are making the biggest impact in a way that is culturally relevant to the community.
- Eads is a small and tight-knit agricultural community on the Eastern Plains of Colorado. Although the school has amazing students and teachers and a great graduation rate, it is under-resourced when it comes to technology and access to arts and culture programs. Teachers write grant requests to equip their own classrooms and often raise funds within their community.
- The economic landscape in Colorado is shifting and Eads teachers must prepare students so they can keep up with modern workforce demands. This includes a focus on STEM education and project/problem-based learning.
- The Nathan Yip Foundation is has worked with Eads High School to upgrade its science classroom with equipment including a SMART Board, 3D printer, virtual reality equipment, and a new fume hood for traditional chemical experiments.
Center Consolidated Schools HOME VISIT PROGRAM
- Center is a small agricultural community in the San Luis Valley with a high percentage of students living in poverty and receiving free/reduced lunch. Many students are English language learners and come from agricultural families.
- Center struggles with teacher recruitment and retention and has been working hard on bridging the gap between the community and its families and the school and its teachers and administrators. Parent-teacher engagement is a priority.
- The Nathan Yip Foundation is working with the community to develop a home visit program which compensates teachers for their extra-curricular outreach efforts and provides opportunities for parents to get involved and learn about their kids' progress at school. Teachers pair up, ensuring that one is a Spanish speaker, and connect with parents in their own homes. Not only does this enable teachers to live a day in their students' shoes and empathize with their kids in the classroom, but it also creates an open line of communication for parents and teachers built on regular interaction and trust.
MONTEZUMA-Cortez & STEM SCHOOL AND ACADEMY PROFESSIONAL Development PARTNERSHIP
- Cortez is located at the base of the San Juan mountains in the Four Corners region of Colorado. Students come from the town and it's surrounding communities, as well as from the Ute Mountain Ute reservation in nearby Towaoc. Mesa Verde National Park is a stone's throw away.
- Distance is the biggest challenge for the Montezuma-Cortez School District. With Durango a 1-hour drive away and Denver a whopping 7-hours away, Cortez teachers and students are fairly insulated. Recruiting and retaining teachers has been a struggle for the district and teachers crave professional development opportunities, including the chance to travel to other districts and share best practices with their peers.
- The Nathan Yip Foundation initiated a partnership between the Montezuma-Cortez School District and STEM School and Academy in Highlands Ranch to offer teachers at each location the opportunity to spend time at their respective schools to share and learn. This collaborative peer-to-peer mentorship model is meant to elevate community sharing and cultural understanding.
Ute Mountain Ute K-12 PROGRAM Partnership
- The Ute Mountain Ute (UMU) reservation is located in Towaoc, Colorado, about 15 miles southwest of Cortez.
- With graduation rates at 49.1% (compared to the State of Colorado average of 77.3%), Native American students are in need of a little extra support. The Ute Mountain Ute staff and Tribal Council have been working closely with the Montezuma-Cortez School district to ensure that their kids have a fair chance at achieving academic success and several programs have been developed at the high school level.
- The UMU reservation has an incredible K-12 Education Center that is currently under-utilized due to lack of programming and staff support. Students of all grade levels living on the reservation are looking forward to the opportunity to supplement their school day with enriching and culturally relevant extra-curricular programs.
- The Nathan Yip Foundation will work directly with the UMU tribe to expand educational offerings and provide programs for the Education Center. UMU staff will be able to engage students and their families by offering cultural activities and classes, like Ute language and arts and crafts, and expand on monthly family nights by partnering with guest facilitators and subject experts.