LAS CRUCES, NM – Newly announced investments in The Bridge of Southern New Mexico from two of its most-committed funders will support first-of-their-kind partnership projects underway with the Gadsden and Las Cruces districts.
El Paso Electric recently awarded The Bridge its largest investment to date — $30,000 – to support the piloting of teacher externships with local businesses, expansion of a virtual STEM mentoring pilot in the Gadsden District, and on-going support for The Bridge’s efforts to improve education and workforce outcomes in DoñaAna County.
A portion of the funds will provide stipends to Career and Technical Education teachers who will spend a week of their summer breaks onsite with an industry-aligned employer to learn first-hand more about what is needed for future workers in key industries, including STEM, healthcare, and digital media. As the state places more focus on Career and Technical Education, this new way for businesses to engage with education is part of the five “ships” of work-based learning being advanced by The Bridge: leadership, mentorship, internship, apprenticeship, and externships for teachers.
Additionally, working in partnership with CREEED in El Paso, the Virtual STEM Mentoring pilot, which virtually brought mentors from Las Cruces and El Paso to engage with 70 7thand 8thgrade students at Santa Teresa Middle School, will seek to expand to Chaparral Middle School in School Year (SY) 19-20.
“Educating our local youth and building a strong pipeline for our future workforce is a top priority at El Paso Electric,” shared Clay Doyle, vice president of transmission and distribution at El Paso Electric. “By partnering with organizations like The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, we help better prepare our educators and our students for careers in STEM and other important industries needed in our region.
U.S. Bank awarded The Bridge $7,500 to support the partnership with Gadsden’s Blended Senior Year Pilot in Santa Teresa High School (STHS). The pilot was conceptualized by Bridge Board Chair Dr. Michael Morehead, former dean of the New Mexico State University College of Education and builds on what was learned from the Early College High School model launched by The Bridge in 2009.
The Blended Senior Year Pilot is a partnership between Gadsden ISD, Doña Ana Community College, and The Bridge to transform the senior year of high school becomes the freshman year of college for students.
Twenty-five students in STHS are pioneering this new approach, which could create a host of positive outcomes for students, schools, colleges, and taxpayers, as well as laying the foundation for the K-14 educational system that New Mexico needs for its long-term academic and economic viability. The partnership between Gadsden Superintendent Travis Dempsey and school leadership at STHS are working hand-in-hand with Doña Ana Community College President Dr. Monica Torres and her team to create an aligned system of supports between high school and college. By strengthening the connections between high school and college, students in the pilot will be well positioned to earn career certifications through aligned Career and Technical Education courses by the time they graduate high school. Comprehensive evaluation of the model will support expansion for even more students in SY 20-21, as well as inform replication statewide.
“The Blended Senior year project is an opportunity for our students to utilize dual credit in a manner that could accelerate their pathway to a career,” said Dempsey. “The project has the potential to reinvent how dual credit is delivered in New Mexico.”
“Through our Community Possible giving and engagement platform we are focused on the areas of Work, Home and Play,” said Craig Buchanan, U.S. Bank Community Bank President. “A great example of our Work pillar is our investment with The Bridge. Our goal is to empower students to succeed in the workforce and gain greater financial wellness. This partnership is a wonderful example of how we do just that.”
The Bridge has emerged as one of the most effective collective impact initiatives in the state, and it is the support of El Paso Electric and US Bank that have made much of its success possible. In the organization’s 11-year history, El Paso Electric has contributed $95,000 and is its single largest business supporter. US Bank is the second-largest business contributor at $58,000 to date.
“Piloting and proving change for our state requires innovative nonprofits and their funding partners take the lead in solving pressing community challenges,” said Dr. Michael Morehead, board chair of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico. “We are deeply grateful that both of these organizations believe in the future of New Mexico’s students and are partnering with us to increase graduation rates for high school and college students, as well as preparing them to succeed in well-paid careers here in our community.”