New Mexico Highlands University Awarded $2.9 Million in Federal Funding to Increase Access to Digital Technology and Education 

The funding will increase access to digital technology and culturally responsive education in rural New Mexico 

students in computer lab

Photo: Margaret McKinney

March 24, 2023

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded $2.9 million in grant funding to NMHU as a part of its Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) pilot grant program.  

NMHU is just one of five minority-serving colleges and universities receiving funding to provide internet access, equipment, personnel, and educational programs to local communities. NMHU will use the NTIA grant to provide culturally responsive education to high school students in Las Vegas and the surrounding communities through the Acequia and Land Grant Education Project (ALGE). City of Las Vegas Public Schools and West Las Vegas Public Schools are partnering with NMHU to pilot the program, which will be made available throughout the state next year. 

According to NMHU Dean of the School of Education Dr. Mary Earick, the program will increase access to digital learning in rural communities in northern New Mexico and will provide advanced placement and dual credit curriculum that is linguistically and culturally responsive to Tribal, Nation, Pueblo, and rural Hispanic communities. 

“This award acknowledges that higher education needs to do a better job supporting college to career pipelines, promoting digital equity, and developing programming that reflects the beauty and power of our communities,” Dr. Earick said. “The ALGE Project will act as a national model in how to reengage young adults experiencing opportunity gaps through curriculum and technologies that are most meaningful to them.” 

NMHU will launch the ALGE Program in summer 2023, and the program is expected to increase high school completion and college enrollment in rural communities in Northern New Mexico and promote workforce development.  

The idea for ALGE emerged from a grant awarded to NMHU’s School of Education by Governor Michelle Luján Grisham’s Emergency Education Relief fund to address technology gaps during COVID 19 in rural schools and will now deliver curriculum based on acequias and land grants in New Mexican schools.  

“I am excited to see this grant funding going to Highlands University in my hometown of Las Vegas. I believe that connecting underserved communities is one of the most important things we can do to promote the education and success of our promising young people,” said U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández. “As a Hispanic-serving institution, NMHU is a leader in promoting leadership, equity, and growth in our comunidades here in New Mexico. Let’s do more for our students.”