A&M-Commerce Partners with Rural School Districts for $1.7 Million Grant

Texas A&M University-Commerce, in partnership with Corsicana ISD and nine school districts in the Freestone-Navarro Bi-County Co-op, will benefit from nearly $1.7 million in grant funding through the Texas Education Agency's Innovative Services for Students with Autism Grant Award Program.

The grant will fund Project TRIBES (Texans in Rural and Inclusive Settings, accessing Behavioral and Educational Supports), a collaborative effort between A&M-Commerce and the 10 rural school districts to build educators' capacity to select and implement evidence-based practices (EBP) for teaching students with autism ages three through 21.

Through the innovative program, school personnel will receive training from scholars and master practitioners who specialize in serving students with autism in areas of academics, adaptive behavior (including sensory and emotion regulation), and social-emotional and mental wellness. Additionally, parents and caregivers of students with autism may participate in a training series focused on parent-implemented EBPs.

Educators and parents of youth with autism within the districts will also be provided with the organizational structure and space to cultivate communities of practice that increase the validity, feasibility and sustainability of activities related to Project TRIBES.

Kelly M. Carrero, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Special Education at A&M-Commerce, helped write the grant and will assist the districts in all the grant activities.

“Project TRIBES will provide a scalable model for preparing educators in rural schools to teach and empower their students with autism,” Carrero said. “We hope to design the program in a way that can be replicated in rural districts across the state of Texas.”

Carrero continued, thanking the university for its support:

“Dr. Rudin's Presidential GAR Initiative funded my graduate assistant, Sinjin Roming, an educational psychology doctoral student who helped write this grant,” Carrero said. “The grant will also fund his continued study at A&M-Commerce.”

The Freestone-Navarro Bi-County Co-op includes school districts in Fairfield, Dew and Wortham in Freestone County, along with districts in Blooming Grove, Dawson, Frost, Kerens, Mildred and Rice in Navarro County.

Learn more about the Department of Psychology and Special Education at A&M-Commerce.