LAS CRUCES, NM – There’s never been a more critical time to focus on unleashing the economic opportunity of people by strategically equipping them with the education and training that prepares them for well-paid careers here in Doña Ana County.
Since 2009, The Bridge of Southern New Mexico and its mission-aligned Workforce Talent Collaborative have strategically worked to increase high school and college completion rates and build a skilled and ready workforce to support a vibrant business community here now and for the future. And thanks to the investment of four local funders, The Bridge will be able to scale up its work to meet the urgent demands of what is currently 11,000 people unemployed in the wake of COVID 19.
El Paso Electric, the Union Pacific Foundation, US Bank, and the United Way of Southwest New Mexico each recognized the critical role The Bridge can play in helping individuals, families, and the county at large and collectively awarded $32,500 in grants to support specific aspects of The Bridge’s work.
El Paso Electric ($10,000), Union Pacific ($10,000), and US Bank ($7,500) are funding The Bridge’s precedent-setting work to harness employer voice and involvement in defining the skills, credentials, and experience needed for specific industry sectors: Healthcare, Aerospace, Defense, Advanced Manufacturing, Transportation & Logistics, Energy, Value-Added and Sustainable Agriculture, Digital Media and Film. With actionable intelligence and involvement from employers, they can become active partners with K-12 and post-secondary educators and workforce service providers to building opportunities and pathways for youth, young adults, and low-skilled workers to some of the best career opportunities in the county.
“El Paso Electric has seen the impact The Bridge has made in Dona Ana County and we are pleased to continue supporting the next phase of their efforts,” said Rico Gonzales, director of New Mexico Government Affairs. “One of our top priorities is to create a robust pipeline for our future workforce and with partners like The Bridge, we see firsthand the difference they are making in our community.”
The Bridge and Collaborative are implementing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management approach to strategic workforce development. Recognized by the US Chamber as one of the top 35 projects in the country, The Bridge is working in partnership with New Mexico State University to launch a first-of-its-kind detailed survey of these critical employers to support the optimal “ecosystem of opportunity” for those who live here and the employers who desperately need them.
“We believe having a safe place to live, a family-supporting career and access to vibrant spaces are critical for communities to thrive,” said Ivan Jaime, Union Pacific Sr. Director – Public Affairs. “By investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs such as the Bridge of Southern New Mexico, where our employees live and work, we achieve a step toward our mission of service while helping communities grow and prosper.”
The United Way of Southwest New Mexico ($5,000) is supporting The Bridge in expanding resources on its NewMexicoTrueTalent.org website and communications campaign. The goal for New Mexico True Talent is to increase awareness of the “ecosystem of opportunity” for students, parents, teachers, and businesses. Funding will support The Bridge specifically in expanding and promoting resources for those who’ve become unemployed during the response to the pandemic and for students exploring the best careers for their futures.
“We are excited to provide this grant as it presents the opportunity for us to partner with The Bridge of Southern New Mexico,” said, Amanda Morales, executive director of the United Way of Southwest New Mexico. “The Bridge’s services of bringing awareness to education and employment opportunities in Southern New Mexico, will be so important now than before in this new normal. As more individuals apply for unemployment, the demand for employment opportunities and economic information will increase. We need more partners like The Bridge to assist with navigating this post-COVID world.”