Rural Revitalization in New Mexico: A Grass Roots Initiative Involving School and Community

Gerald R. Pitzel, Alicia C. Benavidez, Barbara C. Bianchi, Linda L. Croom, Brandy R. de la Riva, Donna L. Grein, James E. Holloway, Andrew T. Rendón

Abstract


The Rural Education Bureau of the New Mexico Public Education Department has established a program to address the special needs of schools and communities in the extensive rural areas of the state. High poverty rates, depopulation and a general lack of viable economic opportunity have marked rural New Mexico for decades. The program underway aims at establishing holistic community socioeconomic revitalization at the grass roots level with the schools playing a leading role. Initiatives include community conversations with key leaders to determine necessary steps to take in encouraging economic growth and attracting businesses, the institution of entrepreneurship within the community, the transformation of the school into a community resource and the encouragement of place-based education within schools. In the second year of this program there are 13 school districts actively involved in the enhancement of their schools and community. The program adopted many of the principles for rural revitalization seen in the remote communities of South Australia.

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