The following article was originally published by NBC5 on April 22, 2021.

One local nonprofit is looking to help students in rural areas get into college on both sides of the lake. The $1.5 million program through CFES (College For Every Student) Brilliant Pathways is open to any school in the region to apply.

CFES Brilliant Pathways is based out of Essex, New York, where their top priority is student success.

Brett McClelland, the program director of the North Country Brilliant Pathways at CFES, explained the program’s mission.

“The main focus and vision of CFES is to prepare rural and urban students for college and career readiness.”

CFES is raising $1.5 million through donations to benefit 20 schools selected through an application process. The selected schools will receive funding to create programs aimed at helping students achieve their goals by getting them ready for college or a career.

“The ultimate goal is to yes, provide college and career readiness to every student who’s under the program,” McClelland said. “But it’s to empower each student to find out what they want to do and then provide them the skills to do that.”

For both sides of the lake, this new program is a big deal.

College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont Dean, Scott Thomas, said the opportunity CFES presents students is wonderful.

“We’re grateful that this partnership will enable more rural students to continue their education and expand their impact within their communities across their states.”

Former New York Gov. George Pataki believes schools should seize the opportunity being presented.

“I hope that school districts across the region take this very seriously because we’re coming out of the pandemic, there are enormous challenges but enormous opportunities and the CFES Brilliant Pathways program is a tremendous opportunity for families and children in the North Country.”

Schools can apply now through May 14, with the 20 schools being selected by June 1.

By Brandon Menard