ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Kids at nearly 60 elementary schools will be getting a jumpstart on their education.
This all thanks to a unique before and after school program that is expanding to even more schools throughout New Mexico, including rural communities.
The Rio Grande Educational Collaborative is already in schools throughout Albuquerque, the East Mountains, and most recently Los Lunas and Belen.
This is the first year the program is in Socorro at Parkview Elementary.
Officials say it's a big help for schools in rural areas that may have not had access to lessons like these.
"We have been able to penetrate and been able to provide the program there and the kids can afford it. That's huge because now they're having a service that they otherwise wouldn't have at all," said Peter Sanchez, CEO of Atrisco Companies.
RGEC was started as an independent non-profit in 2001.
Atrisco Companies acquired it in 2009, growing the program from six to 60 schools by moving it from solely grant based to fee-based.
Officials say to separate it from other before and after school programs, they brought in outside partners who specialize in science, math, geography, literacy, and the arts.
Kids are being given a hands-on lesson in robotics, digital storytelling, and even how to become an entrepreneur.
"In the after school program for a series of weeks, we're teaching them everything from marketing, to business planning, to product development to even sales," said Sanchez.
Officials say the program is licensed through CYFD, which not only makes it a safer environment, it allows them to offer ways to make it affordable for parents.
They're also experimenting with a tuition discount program.
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