As reported in the Las Cruces Sun-News:
LAS CRUCES – El Paso Electric continues its commitment as a strong community partner by making a $10,000 grant to The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, the innovative, business-led, education-focused collaborative driving increased graduation rates and workforce preparedness in Doña Ana County.
The Bridge has recently begun working to align existing and to identify new resources to build a higher-skilled, multi-layered workforce, with a clear focus on STEM proficiency that will boost the economic potential of many county residents and improve the county’s economy for the long term.
El Paso Electric’s investment in The Bridge since 2011 totals $65,000, making it one of the largest private sector investors in the organization. Additionally, El Paso Electric has contributed volunteer support both for The Bridge’s Board of Directors and the Workforce Talent Collaborative working on the workforce development plan for the county and region.
“From the beginning, the success of The Bridge has been driven by public and private sector investments,” said Wanda Mattiace, board chair of The Bridge. “We’ve been successful in working to accomplish our mission thanks to the financial and resource contributions from all of our partners. Now that we are so deeply focused on making the right connections to build a skilled and ready workforce, businesses like El Paso Electric are even more committed to our success, because when young people have both skills and knowledge to be successful in their jobs and careers, our whole community benefits.”
It was The Bridge that began to address the low graduation rates in Doña Ana County, which stood at 49 percent in 2017, and built the collaboration that led to Arrowhead Park Early College High School, the first early college high school in the state. Since opening for the 2009-2010 school year, the school has achieved near 100 percent graduation rates every year, and the majority of its student body includes first generation college attenders, low-income students, and students of color. The school has helped close outcome gaps for students, and provided a model that is being replicated statewide – with 22 early college high schools now open across the state.
Additionally, graduation rates in Doña Ana County have skyrocketed to 80 percent thanks to efforts led by The Bridge and its partners. The economic impact of students’ success is profound – between $55 million and $103 million annually, based solely upon the increased earnings of students who graduate high school and depending upon college-level completion through career certifications, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees.
At the bare minimum, The Bridge has produced an economic return of $484 for every $1 invested in its work, but the results of this ground-breaking collaboration have been far more expansive. Other communities are replicating this model for community collaboration, drawing a business-friendly voice into education in unprecedented ways.
“The Bridge of Southern New Mexico is making positive changes in career readiness and workforce development challenges that undermine our economic future,” said Willie Silva, EPE’s community outreach vice president “El Paso Electric proudly sponsors The Bridge’s collaborative efforts in giving our young people opportunities to work, live and thrive in our community. We support a continued partnership with The Bridge in order to develop a culture of scholastic completion and high expectations for students in our region.”
To learn more about The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, or to become an investment partner in driving change in the county and region, visit thebridgeofsnm.org, or by calling 575-541-7325. A full list of supporters can be found on the “How You Can Help” tab.