CoBank’s Sharing Success: WREC Matches Donation for Carlin Preschool

Story and photo by Garrett Hylton

WREC Board of Directors Bob Wilcox and Fred Montes de Oca present checks from WREC and CoBank to Sabra Esparza and JoLynn Branning who are helping the Carlin United Methodist Church offer preschool services. Photo by Layla Welsh

After discovering a major community need in April, Wells Rural Electric Co.’s (WREC’s) Board of Directors and employees were thrilled to capitalize on CoBank’s Sharing Success program and provide $20,000 in grant funding for the Carlin United Methodist Church to support early childhood education in the Carlin community.

WREC directors Bob Wilcox and Fred Montes de Oca made it official August 2, presenting matching checks of $10,000 from CoBank and WREC to project managers JoLynn Branning and Sabra Esparza.

“Wells Rural Electric is highly invested in their communities,” Sabra says. “This money is a great help and much appreciated. They’ve supported the the Carlin Historical Society through the Next Dollar Foundation, helped open the Carlin Museum, and supplied volunteers to help with a fundraiser to open a community hall in Carlin. WREC is a great supporter of the community.

If you need help in your community, reach out to your local WREC office. I bet they would be more than willing to lend a hand.”

The funding immediately helps operate a preschool organized by the church and community members after a previous preschool program closed. The preschool’s enrollment for this fall is full and will serve 18 local children—6 full-time students, 6 part-time students in the morning, and 6 part-time students in the afternoon—with plans for expansion.

The 5-year goal is to provide for the construction of a new building to house the preschool and start a community family resource center.

“Commitment to Community is one of the Seven Cooperative Principles and one of WREC’s core pillars,” WREC CEO Clay Fitch says. “These grants are going to provide needed resources in Carlin and vital building blocks for early childhood education in the community.”

CoBank—a banking cooperative that provides loans and financial services to other cooperatives—is guided by the same principles as WREC. Its Sharing Success program provides matching funds and is available to cooperatives each year.

WREC started working with Carlin United Methodist Church to apply for the grant in late April. WREC has taken advantage of CoBank’s Sharing Success program twice in recent years, also helping fund the new Boys and Girls Club building in Wells.