As a small school district, Monte Alto ISD depends on grants to help provide its 869 students with as many opportunities as possible.
“In spite of us being small and secluded, we’re offering the best that we can offer to the kids to get them ready,” said Dr. Rosie Cobarrubias, Monte Alto ISD superintendent. “We want to prepare them to go out into the world and make a difference and they’ll be ready.
“And they’ll be competitive with other students from anywhere in the country.”
Thanks to the School Redesign Grant, Monte Alto ISD’s well-prepared students now have access to welding and patient care technician certifications. Educational Research Institute, a Harlingen-based grant writing company, secured the funding through the grant, which awarded $1.5 million for both the middle and high school campuses for a total of $3 million. Of the 10 grants awarded in Texas, Monte Alto ISD received two of them. ERI also helped Monte Alto Early College High School obtain a $500,000 continuation grant.
Last year, more than 70 percent of the district’s senior class earned an industry-based certification. Monte Alto ISD provided resources to the students every step of the way — right down to steel-toed boots for welding classes. That program in particular has been a cause for excitement among students, Zepeda said.
“Kids are already telling you when they’re freshmen and sophomores, ‘I’m going to be in welding, Miss, remember,’” she said. “They’re already seeing that as a pathway. They already see that as something they can do. It’s exciting to see kids wanting to do that.”
The grant has also helped build the teacher workforce with additional training, and provided students and staff members with laptops. Each classroom also has a large, interactive flat panel for instruction through the grant.
“It was phenomenal because along with this grant came a lot of monies that were attached to it, so we were able to provide a lot of programs that were going to be beneficial to the kids,” Cobarrubias said. “Those are skills that these kids will take with them for the rest of their lives and they’re going to make just a big difference not only in their community, but wherever they decide to live.”
ERI has gone above and beyond serving the district, Zepeda said, recalling when the grant organization sent over boxes of Monte Alto ISD-branded planners to help students get organized — and when it deployed a Kona Ice truck so that teachers could enjoy a sweet treat during the afternoon of a training session.
“Maggie’s an advocate for Monte Alto,” Zepeda said, referring to Maggie Rodriguez, senior grant specialist at ERI, who works closely with the district on grants. “‘Tell me what you need,’ she’ll tell me.”
If your district is interested in learning more about what Educational Research Institute can help you achieve, contact ERI’s office today at (956) 365-4100.