El Paso Electric $15K Grant Supports Graduation Rates & Workforce Development

LAS CRUCES – The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, the state’s unique collaboration of business, economic development, government and education, accepted a $15,000 grant from El Paso Electric on Tuesday, October 8.

Ricardo Gonzales, El Paso Electric Director for New Mexico External Affairs, presented the grant to The Bridge leaders to support ongoing work to increase graduation rates and build a stronger workforce for Doña Ana County. El Paso Electric’s investment will continue work at The Bridge to support Dona Ana County’s early college high schools; to expand dual credit high school/college courses for students; to grow a “community of mentors” who support students’ school and career success; and to build on solid analysis of regional educational outcomes.

Gonzales serves on The Bridge Board of Directors, which involves key leaders from business, economic development, government and education who are working together to advance career and technical education for students throughout Dona Ana County.

Stacie Allen, CEO of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico said business leaders from energy, healthcare, aerospace, engineering, finance, manufacturing, hospitality/tourism, agriculture and construction — working together with economic development leaders — have created an effective cross-sector model for the state. “The Bridge demonstrates how business can work hand-in-hand with education leaders to create our state’s future employees, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders,” Allen added.

Gonzales said The Bridge Board of Directors is focused on the overarching goal of achieving the highest high school graduation rates in the state across Dona Ana County by 2016. “This is a win-win model that will create a career path of excellence for our future Dona Ana County workforce because students choose to stay in school to complete both their high school and college education,” Gonzales added.

“For many years, El Paso Electric and our employees have been dedicated to supporting The Bridge of Southern New Mexico with both financial and volunteer assistance. We and our families are proud residents of many Doña Ana county communities. We have a vested interest in the economic future of this county,” said Gonzales.

The Bridge of Southern New Mexico is a regional collaborative supporting education, workforce advancement and economic development.  The 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization was established in 2009. The Bridge laid the foundation for the state’s first early college high school, Arrowhead Park ECHS (APECHS), in Las Cruces. Three Early College High Schools are open or under construction in Dona Ana County. APECHS continues to report 100 percent student retention since the dual credit campus opened in 2010.

The Bridge is building a “community of mentors” for students by promoting business internships, advancing teacher training and building parents’ capacity as strong mentors for their children. More information is available about The Bridge online at www.thebridgeofsnm.com.