The Northeast Regional Education Cooperative, which covers school districts in San Miguel, Mora and Guadalupe counties, has secured several grants that will prove the lives and education of local students. 

The NEREC covers Las Vegas City Schools, West Las Vegas, Pecos, Mora, Wagon Mound and Santa Rosa. It is one of 10 regional education cooperatives in New Mexico. Their purpose is to serve the needs of the rural districts across the state. Of the 89 districts in New Mexico, 68 are considered rural, according to NEREC Executive Director Jim Abreu. 

Recently, the NEREC secured a $300,000 grant from the US Department of Education that will focus on school libraries. The group plans to add to and expand their book collections and all other literary as well as online resources. 

The grant is for five years, meaning the group has a sustained funding source to transform the libraries in each of these districts over the next several years. 

The NEREC has been having weekly Zoom meetings with the librarians and district representatives to discuss funding options, and Abreu said everyone involved is excited and has been providing good input. 

“They have all been great cheerleaders since finding out about this grant,” Abreu said. “It’s like they’ve found this little treasure chest and now they’re trying to figure out how to spend all the money.”

Abreu said it has been several years since they received a grant of this size, and they want to make sure they put it to the best possible use. 

The other big grant NEREC recently received is from the New Mexico Public Education Department. It is called the Near Peer Tutoring Program, and will be implemented this spring. The grant is for $250,000. The program is designed to hire certain high school students to mentor and tutor other students from the high school, middle school, and elementaries in their districts. In addition, each school will have a staff member oversee the program, for an additional stipend. The student will also receive compensation for his time. 

The tutoring program is expected to take place before or after school, or during lunch time, depending what works best at each school. It begins in January and ends in June. The group will be allowed to reapply for next school year as well. Since they were approved this year, Abreu believes it is likely they will receive additional funding in the future. 

In addition to those larger grants, the NEREC has also received a $30,000 grant to help with the homelessness issues among local youth that they are still deciding how to properly spend. This is the beginning of a program in the state that is expected to provide millions of dollars across New Mexico in the near future to address the issue. 

The NEREC is also the Fiscal Agents for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for San Miguel County, Fiscal Agent for the Villanueva Community Center and Fiscal Agent for the San Miguel Early Childhood Coalition, all of whom have recently received grants for programs in their community. 

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