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Rural Hope helps rural students enter the workforce

Amanda Smith
Joey Cook, a graduate of Hamlin Collegiate High School and Cisco College HVAC -- CEN’s trailblazer as the first HVAC Apprentice

A non-profit project to help students from rural areas and boost the workforce has made its way to Abilene. The Collegiate Edu-Nations Rural Hope Project helps students achieve success by partnering with local schools and businesses within rural communities.

Kim Alexander, CEO of Collegiate Edu-Nations, got the idea after he saw a need for an educated workforce to help fill Texas jobs when he was superintendent at Roscoe Collegiate ISD. He says, nationally, there are record high graduation rates, but low post-secondary credential rates, “For most of those students walking across the graduation stage, it was like walking off a cliff. The best part of their life was now behind them.”

Alexander says the goal of the project is to have students complete a Bachelors or Masters degree with no student debt, which in turn benefits rural communities, “The theory is by creating more highly educated rural population, that will lead to the innovation that leads to rural job creation and economic and community development.”

The Catalyze Challenge grant program awarded The Rural Hope Project $500,000 to bring the program to 16 districts across Texas and serve 16,000 students. Of those, 400 are in Abilene.