FARMINGTON — A Farmington nonprofit will receive about $2 million in federal grants to improve the health of students at six schools in the Central Consolidated School District.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Capacity Builders Inc. the Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant, which supports middle and high school students' health and wellbeing.
The Farmington organization will use the money to provide training for teachers and purchase exercise and gym equipment. The nonprofit will receive about $718,000 this year, and the remainder will be distributed over the next two years.
The funds will expand the organization's involvement in physical fitness activities and nutrition education, said Deborah Montgomery, founder and vice president of Capacity Builders.
"I believe that an individual who takes care of one's body — physically and emotionally — is going to be a stronger individual overall and make good life choices," Montgomery said.
Capacity Builders runs a nonprofit, 24-hour fitness center called Gym Lou's at 416 W. Broadway Ave.
The gym offers the Train 10 program to help high school students or recent graduates become certified fitness trainers. Capacity Builders received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Community and Economic Development Program last year to fund the program.
A portion of funding from the recent education grant will continue the training program and add five more people to it.
Another chunk of the grant money will benefit CCSD schools. Rachel Nawrocki, Capacity Builders' lead regional coordinator, said the organization will work with Naschitti Elementary, Tse' Bit Ai' and Newcomb middle schools and Newcomb, Shiprock and Career Prep high schools.
"We're hoping to go into those schools and provide all the PE teachers with information on health education," Nawrocki said. "Teachers will come out better and with more information on the greatest and best practices in the field."
More than $180,000 will go toward training for physical education and showing teachers how to incorporate physical activity into the classroom and provide better nutrition options.
Part of the grant will also go toward purchasing new exercise and gym equipment for CCSD schools. Capacity Builders officials have not yet determined how much money they will spend on new equipment.
Nawrocki said the organization will meet with CCSD officials to discuss how to best approach installing the equipment.
A CCSD spokesman could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
More than $33 million was awarded to 67 community-based organizations and local educational agencies under the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, according to a U.S. Department of Education press release. Capacity Builders was the only New Mexico organization to receive grant funds this year.