GDOE’s New Office of Rural Education and Innovation

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Earlier this month, The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) announced their new Office of Rural Education and Innovation has announced their first round of initiatives to support rural schools and districts.

The office is providing funding to expand internet connectivity in areas affected by the Digital Divide. They also intend to promote workforce development, support literacy, and phonics skills, and combat any non-educational barriers to learning. The four main initiatives are Connectivity, Workforce Development, Foundational Skills & Literacy and Nonacademic Barriers to Learning. 

For the Connectivity initiative, the GaDOE is partnering with the Office of Technology to distribute $1,720,000 among 43 districts. Their objective is to help these schools take full advantage of the expanded bandwidth being supplied by the state. Specifically, Governor Brian Kemp directed federal COVID-19 relief funds doubling the bandwidth for every K-12 school. While most districts had the capacity within their network equipment to utilize the additional bandwidth, 43 required additional network equipment to fully utilize the extra bandwidth. The Office of Rural Education and Innovation’s Connectivity initiative is reimbursing each of these school districts with $40,000.

The Workforce Development initiative has given 57 school districts grants to renovate both middle and high school CTAE labs. These upgraded workspaces will give students the interactive opportunity to explore their career pathways. 

The Foundational Skills and Literacy initiative awarded a total of $18,298,488 to 22 school districts with funds to support the implementation of a new literacy curriculum. These districts will strive to improve student literacy learning, effective instruction, and progressing partnerships within the community.  

The Nonacademic Barriers to Learning initiative is in partnership with GaDOE Office of Whole Child Supports and is providing four school districts – Ben Hill County Schools, Clay County Schools, Lumpkin County Schools and Twiggs County Schools – with $10,000 to build health clinics for their buildings. Emory University is also working on this initiative to give technical assistance to the districts involved. 

“We are committed to supporting rural schools and districts and closing the opportunity gaps that often affect students in rural areas,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “These projects undertaken by the Office of Rural Education & Innovation, led by Deputy Superintendent Bronwyn Ragan-Martin, are a strong first step toward the goal of renewing rural Georgia and ensuring every child, in every part of the state, has access to opportunities that will prepare them for a bright future.”

The Office of Rural Education and Innovation is working to support and provide resources for rural schools in Georgia. For more information visit