The following article was originally published by Local 22 WVNY/Local 44 WFFF on April 22, 2021.

20 schools across Vermont and northern New York will be chosen to take part in a new program called “North Country Brilliant Pathways Project”. It’s aimed at achieving college readiness in rural areas.

The 1.5 million dollar program will be funded by Essex, New York non-profit, CFES Brilliant Pathways. For 3 decades, it’s provided resources to more than 100,000 disadvantaged students. Now, it’s hoping to help rural schools in Vermont and New York on the wrong side of the digital divide.

“It’s the same old story, rural America is forgotten,” said CFES president Rick Dalton. “There’s not enough help for rural America, we’re talking about dollars, we’re talking about people, we’re talking about investment of role models.”

It will be led by Dalton who says students in rural areas are less likely to attend college and stay in school than their urban counterparts. The 3 year program will begin for selected schools this fall. It will provide a mix of college visits, career readiness skills, peer mentors, and digital resources. Schools will be chosen based on community need and commitment to change the status quo.

“Showing the pathway to opportunity,” said former New York Governor George Pataki. “Showing how a better career, education and better opportunities can be achieved in every community and every town and village across the north country.”

Speakers add that the pandemic has only amplified the need for harnessing technology in rural communities.

Schools must complete the 1 page application by May 14th. The 20 selected schools will be announced June 1st.

By Courtney Kramer