The University of New Mexico-Taos Hub of Internet-Based Vocation and Education (UNM-Taos HIVE) has secured a Venture Challenge grant of $1.4 million via the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program.

UNM-Taos HIVE worked with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to apply for this grant as part of CORI’s 2022 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to create inclusive digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.

The initiative was launched in 2018 by CORI and its mission-aligned collaborating organization, Rural Innovations Strategies, Inc. (RISI). To date, this program has graduated 29 communities and helped rural organizations secure more than $29.9 million to develop strategies and build out programs that can accelerate their local digital economic development efforts.

“The work that goes into the Rural Innovation Initiative process requires intense focus, unwavering optimism, and a clear vision for the future — which is why it’s been so exciting to watch these communities receive Build to Scale funding,” said Matt Dunne, founder and executive director of CORI. “This is the fourth year we’ve run this program, and each year we grow more inspired by the commitment these rural leaders have to transform their local economies with new tech pathways that serve their community. We look forward to seeing what is next for them as our network continues to grow.”

“There is incredible talent and potential in our community, and we are thrilled to use this funding to unlock additional tech entrepreneurial opportunities here in Northern New Mexico. Applying for a Build to Scale grant was always a goal — but this year, we were ready. This process would not have been possible without the commitment and support of our core partners, UNM-Taos, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, and Taos Community Foundation and, most importantly, our community members and stakeholders. We are excited to see what the future holds,” said Rose Reza, executive director of UNM-Taos HIVE.

With the $1,401,888 provided by the Venture Challenge grant and matching funds, Taos plans to launch the HIVE Pollinator, an initiative that will invite and engage historically underrepresented members of the U.S. tech community. The HIVE Pollinator will support scalable tech startups in Northern New Mexico through narrative building, innovative mentorship programming, and tech entrepreneur incubation and acceleration.

UNM-Taos HIVE is joined by UNM-Taos and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative as local partners who provided funding and in-kind contributions for the community’s match portion of the grant.

The 2022 Build to Scale program awarded 51 grants to applicants from 31 states. The grants represent a combined $47 million in federal investment. Taos was one of just eight rural applicants to receive the award this year.

Taos is also a member of CORI’s Rural Innovation Network, a growing collective of rural communities in 24 states around the country that are working to train residents in digital skills, employ them in new economy jobs, and empower them to launch the startups that will drive future economies.