Commentary: Corporate philanthropy lies at the heart of advancing innovative and effective approaches to workforce development and increased graduation rates being led by The Bridge of Southern New Mexico. Corporate investments coming alongside foundation investments are vital to creating change that lasts.
Several local and national corporate donors have come alongside The Bridge this year in advancing the first comprehensive workforce development aligned to economic development targets in state history.
The Union Pacific Foundation just announced a $10,000 investment and the U.S. Bank Foundation made a $6,000 investment to strengthen community connections to education and employment information through the NewMexicoTrueTalent.org website.
The grants support further development of the site that provides links for students, parents, and businesses to connect education and employment opportunities. The site includes a host of free resources gathered into one place where young people and others come to understand that they are vital contributors to building the future of New Mexico. The grants will also help fund the development of mobile-friendly access to the site and support communications efforts to promote awareness of the New Mexico True Talent resources.
"Union Pacific's success is linked to communities where we operate, and we proudly support organizations that improve the quality of life where our employees live and work," said Ivan Jaime, Senior Director - Public Affairs at Union Pacific. "Investing in high-quality nonprofits and programs helps achieve our mission of building safe, prosperous and vibrant communities."
To date, the U.S. Bank Foundation has been the second-largest corporate foundation supporter of The Bridge’s work.
“At U.S. Bank, we believe that the building blocks of all thriving communities where all things are possible include stable employment opportunities, a home to call your own, and a community connected through culture, arts, recreation and play,” said Craig Buchanan, community lending team lead for U.S. Bank. “We are very pleased to partner with The Bridge of Southern New Mexico in their work on the issues of education and workforce development for our community.”
While those foundation dollars support critical components of the community’s work together, the investments made by local businesses bring even greater impact to those investments by investing in The Bridge’s efforts to inform smart local, state, and federal policy.
Forward-looking business partners like Virgin Galactic ($5,000), Mountainview Regional Medical Center ($5,000), Omega Trucking ($1,000), Adventure Travel ($1,000), and Jacobs Technology ($500) make possible the Bridge’s ability to advance work that can ultimately inform good policy – which to this point has been focused on equitably funding Dual Credit courses for the higher education institutions to ensure sustainability and expansion of the program. Currently colleges and universities have to waive student tuition, which places them in the position of delivering those courses at significant financial losses.
One of the most successful policy initiatives from the early work of The Bridge and the investment by local business is the Early College High School movement in New Mexico, which now includes 20 schools across the state – all graduating students at near 100% rates. The Bridge has continued to be a voice for support for these schools, as well as an advocate for the dual credit courses that make their outcomes possible.
Policy will continue to be important as the Bridge and its mission-aligned Workforce Talent Collaborative are again innovating and piloting first-of-their-kind efforts to address the state and nation’s single greatest barrier to economic growth – the presence of a skilled and ready workforce.
“No one understands the importance of The Bridge’s work better than the business community,” said Wanda Mattiace, owner of Adventure Travel. “What is even more significant is the consistent engagement of the business community for the past ten years. We have seen the needle move in the right direction in our community on high school graduation rates. Now, we’re poised for more movement in higher college completion rates and increasing the skills and qualifications of our people to be well prepared to engage in real careers that are here now, as well as those that will define our future.”
For a complete list of The Bridge’s committed funding partners, or to learn more, please visit thebridgeofsnm.org and click on the “Get Involved” tab.
About The Bridge of Southern New Mexico
The Bridge of Southern New Mexico leads the conversations that are driving educational and economic success for young people by understanding that student success can happen at many levels – starting with high school graduation and continuing into career-certifications, two-year, four-year, and post-graduate college degrees. This innovative, business-led collaborative unites top educational leaders in Dona Ana County (the Las Cruces, Gadsden and Hatch school districts, Dona Ana Community College, and New Mexico State University) with business, economic development and government leaders to literally bridge the skills and knowledge gaps between education and career readiness for students.