The Northwest Colorado BOCES needs to find about $440,000 in private sector funds in order to be awarded a multi-million dollar federal grant.

The funds, nearly $3 million in total, will be used for online tools to build teaching communities across the northwest corner of Colorado. Those communities will be used for professional development linked directly to their evaluations.

The BOCES’s application for the Investing in Innovation grant was dubbed as one of the “highest-rated” by the U.S. Department of Education. If the Northwest Colorado BOCES secures matching donations, it will be the only Colorado recipient of the federal grant.

All highest-rated applicants in previous years have successfully secured private matching funds and become grantees.

“This Investing in Innovation grant will help empower our teachers in northwest Colorado and provide them with valuable tools and resources to become even better teachers for our kids,” said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in a statement issued by the BOCES. “In order for this project to reach its full potential, these schools need support through matching funds that will work alongside the federal resources.”

Northwest Colorado BOCES developed the project on behalf of seven rural school districts in Grand, Jackson, Routt, and Moffat counties.

In these districts, high quality professional development and opportunities for significant connections to others in similar positions can be difficult to provide to teachers.

“Just like kids, teachers are at all different levels of mastery,” said Amy Bollinger, executive director for the Northwest BOCES.  “The project is a shift away from ineffective one-time workshops toward ongoing dynamic professional learning. It will help struggling teachers improve, average teachers become great, and excellent teachers grow.”