Region One Education Service Center (Region One) was awarded a total of $4.2 million for the next three years by the US Department of Education (USDE) through the newly created Perkins Innovation and Modernization, Career Connected High Schools (CCHS) grant program. School districts stakeholders, industry partners and higher education representatives gathered at the Region One Conference Center in Edinburg March 25, 2024 to celebrate the award.

According to the USDE, the grant is part of the Department’s Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success initiative, aimed at helping young Americans access good-paying jobs. The USDE received over 160 applications. Region One was among 18 other grant awardees in the country and is one of two awardees in Texas.

"Through this grant, our College, Career and Life Readiness Office will strengthen its commitment to aligning education with career pathways, preparing students to meet the workforce's demands," said Executive Director Dr. Daniel P. King. "We're proud to be among the first institutions to pioneer this new program, working collaboratively with our partner school systems and the private sector to ensure a seamless integration of education and career preparation."

The initiative will serve 4,379 students across Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy Counties, empowering career and technical education programs at nine partner school systems: Lasara ISD, Lyford CISD, Monte Alto ISD, Point Isabel ISD, Raymondville ISD, Rio Hondo ISD, Roma ISD, San Isidro ISD and San Perlita ISD.

Rio Hondo ISD Superintendent Raul J. Treviño said the program is the missing piece rural school districts need to help students transition into in-demand careers.

“I’m excited to bring work-based learning opportunities to our students through this grant because, as a rural school district, we are not in close proximity to the industries that we are preparing students for careers in,” Superintendent Treviño said. “This is going to help us build a strong pathway to in-demand careers. Overall, the program will raise awareness for work-based learning experiences coupled with higher education opportunities.”

With the goal of improving academic scores and career readiness efforts, partner school systems will receive dedicated support from Region One to create modernized career and technical education programs. The initiative will provide schools with work-based learning opportunities, apprenticeships, certification courses, professional development for educators and customized post-secondary and career planning.