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Education is a top priority for United Way of Central New Mexico. Access to better jobs, financial stability for families, and a solid local economy all spring from improved education. 

Mission: Graduate

UWCNM was also instrumental in founding the Education Support Initiative which grew into Mission: Graduate, an ambitious, data-driven cradle-to-career partnership that seeks to provide a fair chance for all individuals to succeed at school, graduate with a college degree or certificate, and pursue a career of their choosing.

Mission: Graduate has an ambitious goal: To add 60,000 new graduates with college degrees and certificates to central New Mexico by 2020.

Learn More About Mission Graduate


Our Impact

Job Preparation for Refugees

United Way of Central New Mexico’s Community Fund supports Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains’ Self-Sufficiency Educational Training Services for Refugees so that newly-arrived refugees prepare for, obtain, and retain employment.

Fifteen refugee clients enter employment within 180 days of arriving in New Mexico and have maintained employment 180 days after the first date of hire, either by retaining the original job or securing another one. 


Literacy Empowers Adults for a Full Life

United Way of Central New Mexico’s Community Fund partners with Reading Works to provide services to empower adults with literacy and language skills they need to participate fully and effectively in work, civic life, and community.

Seventy-five clients who participate in the program for six months will achieve a Literacy Benchmark Achievement (survival literacy skills, community, GED, voting, children, library, employment, education, computer, math). 

Technology Can Improve Independence

In partnership with United Way of Central New Mexico’s Community Fund, the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides blind or visually impaired children the opportunity to use new and helpful technologies to enhance their learning experience and increase their independence.

Four hundred children will increase their ability to move independently, demonstrate purposeful behaviors to communicate, and ability to access core curriculum.


The following education programs are currently being supported by UWCNM's Community Fund.

Community Fund Partners

Education | Bernalillo County
Grant Amount: $15,560
Grant Term: 2018 - 2019
Program Website: Accelerated Education Classes for Students Program

Albuquerque Adult Learning Center, Inc. (formerly ABQ-GED®), is an award-winning Education Program providing FREE Adult Basic Education (ABE) and High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation classes to needy communities within the Albuquerque Metro area. ABQ ALC collaborates with multiple community partners to support HSE completers in their transition to college or employment.  This grant will increase our Fast Track Program that allows HSE students to complete their program faster and at lower cost, thus increasing the total number of graduates in Bernalillo County and providing major economic benefits to our poorest communities.

Education | Bernalillo County
Grant Amount: $25,000
Grant Term: 2018 - 2019
Program Website: After-School Tutoring/Summer Programs

Homeless students in the Albuquerque Public Schools are those who are living in emergency shelters; living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations; places not designed for use as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, and doubled up with others due to economic hardship. There are homeless children and youth attending kindergarten through 12th grades. High-risk students have the most to gain from after-school and summer programs in terms of educational opportunity--encouraging and tracking participation across the year helps youth stay engaged (Harvard Research, 2011). Creating structured environments for at-risk students to improve their literacy skills, receive enrichment activities and learn about careers provides students with additional support to be successful in school. After-school and summer programs also allow students to strengthen their social skills and friendships with peers. This enhances their support system at school. Improving academic outcomes for these students is important for educators and policymakers.

The Homeless Project's after-school tutoring and summer programs will provide academic, enrichment and career development activities for approximately 335 students (185 during the school year, 150 during the summer) homeless students during 2018-2019. The programs will be located in a number of schools

throughout the city.  Academic skills in literacy will be enhanced using a Links to Literacy approach. Links to Literacy is a best practice approach which includes the following four components: 1) The tutor reads, 2) The child reads, 3) Word study, 4) The child writes.

Enrichment activities will also be offered during our after-school and summer programs. These will include:

1) Health and Physical Fitness Instruction provided by community volunteers,

2) Monthly Birthday Celebrations provided by Community Volunteers,

3) Family style catered meals where students receive nourishment, mentorship, and support from caring adults, and

4) Art instruction during our summer program.  In addition to these activities, we are also exploring theater and music activities to add to our programs in the coming year.

After-school and summer programs will also emphasize staying in school and understanding the connections between performance in school and future endeavors. Community guest speakers and field trips will address a multitude of professional careers open to students and demystify unfamiliar careers.

The Homeless Project's after-school tutoring and summer programs will positively impact students in the following ways:

1) Increase their literacy skills

2) Provide certified teachers and school personnel to guide and mentor students

3) Provide snacks and catered meals to students during each session

4) Provide experiential learning opportunities with transportation to and from sites

5) Provide career awareness through field trips and enrichment activities

6) Provide art instruction, physical fitness activities, art instruction, and birthday celebrations through community collaborations.

Education | Bernalillo County
Grant Amount: $9,975
Grant Term: 2018 - 2019
Program Website: Albuquerque Reads

Albuquerque Reads is the sole program of the Career Guidance Institute. The population ABQ Reads works with is considered 'vulnerable' primarily due to the effects of poverty. The most recent data shows that two-thirds of ABQ Reads students come from poverty backgrounds. The program serves in three, public elementary schools, which are all Title I schools and, are are further qualified under the Community Eligible Provision which is applied to schools with very high poverty levels.   The majority of the students served by the program are minorities.

Evidence of the community's need for early support and intervention literacy services is reflected in the fact that nearly half of New Mexico's adult population is considered functionally illiterate. This severely hampers their ability to secure well-paying jobs that can support themselves and their families. This problem is best addressed early in the education process before issues become permanent.  The need becomes more apparent when beginning-of-year literacy scores are evaluated. These scores show that there are significantly more students starting the year at the lowest reading level and significantly less students reading at the highest level when compared to other district schools.

ABQ Reads' unique method is evident in a few ways. ABQ Reads is the only program in the state to provide individual tutoring during the school day and in conjunction with classroom learning. It is also offered at no charge to every enrolled kindergarten student. The tutoring sessions take place three times per week for thirty minutes each. A volunteer tutor is paired with a student so that every child receives ninety minutes of individualized attention.  It is also unique in that it has developed its own curriculum. The curriculum can be tailored by each site coordinator to follow exactly what has been taught in the classroom. It has easy-to-use examples and prompts for the volunteer tutors so that they and the children get the most out of each session. Another unique aspect is the allowance for individual differences and varying academic levels of the students. Because of the one-to-one nature of the program, every session can meet the students' needs and help them continue to progress upward.  Regardless of the level of any student, the program meets them where they are, and they do experience success.

The impact to the community is immediate and long-term. The immediate impact can be seen in that these at-risk youth are given access to an academic foundation-building program. A strong academic foundation, especially in the area of literacy, is essential for all future learning and provides an immediate return on investment as children benefiting from the program show more gains and are better prepared for first grade. The long-term impact is seen in that students who experience successes early in their schooling have an increased likelihood of graduating from high school, pursuing higher learning, and transitioning smoothly into productive adulthood.

Education | Bernalillo County
Grant Amount: $12,440
Grant Term: 2018 - 2019
Program Website: Amy Biehl HS: All-School Service Activities

Through Amy Biehl High School (ABHS) all-school services projects, supported financially by the ABHS Foundation, students learn to research local needs and address them through volunteer hours dedicated to hundreds of area nonprofits.

VULNERABLE POPULATION: ABHS attracts students from diverse backgrounds. Currently, 300 students are enrolled in grades 9-12. Of these, 60% are minorities, 24% have special education needs (9% higher than the Albuquerque District average), and over 55% qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch (meaning they are low-or moderate-income). Many parents choose ABHS because of a reputation for excellence, as well as the mission to serve. More than 140 community partners have hosted students, including museums, health service providers, and animal rescue agencies. These agencies often serve vulnerable populations themselves and they benefit from ABHS student involvement. Agencies form long-term relationships with students; over 50% of ABHS graduates continue to volunteer, extending their community impact for years beyond high school.

NEED: Many ABHS students face risk factors that increase the likelihood of dropping out of high school (e.g., low-income, entering school behind grade level, special needs). Further, they may enter high school without the familial supports that help them succeed and understand the importance of college. Local nonprofits often struggle with limited budgets and variable volunteer capacity; our students fill a need for well-informed and committed volunteers. Through their contributions to the community, ABHS students support greater capacity in local nonprofits that serve thousands of high-need clients. ABHS student volunteering, therefore, benefits central New Mexico widely.

METHOD OF SERVICE PROVISION: ABHS service programming is well-established and ongoing, supported by teachers, advisors, and nonprofit partners. The experience begins in 9th-10th grades with all-school service days (students select partners) and intensifies in 11th grade with a Compass class (students identify talents/interests and develop an aligning project). They then foster the connections they need to carry out their projects. In 12th grade, students execute their projects overseen by nonprofit mentors and ABHS staff and executed at partner nonprofit sites. Through Advisories, students meet in groups throughout their time in high school to discuss service experiences and link them to larger lessons about themselves and their academic and career trajectories. Seniors are required to participate in college preparatory work and pass college courses relevant to their service project. ABHS staff is responsible for ensuring that students are on track with coursework and service commitments, that they have adequate oversight, and that nonprofit partners receive the support they need.

IMPACT: Each year, ABHS students commit over 10,000 service hours to nonprofits around the Albuquerque area, expanding capacity to serve clients at cash-strapped nonprofits and lending the insights and energy of students. Further, ABHS has worked with other area schools to train them in service methods to expand the postive impact beyond ABHS students.

Our approach is even more important for the students themselves. For those who enter high school without strong support systems and/or who struggle academically, the service focus is empowering. Students find that they can have a direct impact on the lives of others, energizing them to do more and stay in school. Our approach enhances teen’s social intelligence through gaining knowledge about local needs and making community connections, as well as improving emotional intelligence by identifying and working with vulnerable populations while they analyze the impact of their service on themselves.

For years, ABHS has earned an ‘A’ on the state report card for College and Career Readiness, signaling a strong ability to prepare students for college/careers.

Education | Bernalillo County
Grant Amount: $26,400
Grant Term: 2018 - 2019
Program Website: APS Community Clothing Bank

Vulnerable Population Served:

The APS Community Clothing Bank serves the members of our community who are most vulnerable: children living in poverty. In Albuquerque Public Schools, nearly 69% of children qualify for free or reduced price lunch, or over 57,500 students. To put this in context, a family of three qualifying for free lunch makes less than $26,000 a year. Imagine being a parent with just over $2,000 a month to pay for rent, utilities, transportation, food and clothes. It is clear that for many, the math just does not add up. The APS Community Clothing Bank exists to ensure that no child has to miss school due to the lack of clothes or shoes.

Community Need for Program:

Just like food banks, clothing banks are organized to meet a basic need of Albuquerque’s children. Over the past decade, Albuquerque has seen increasing rates of poverty and higher demand for Clothing Bank services. Starting in 2013, new partnerships with Goodwill Industries of New Mexico and Payless Shoe Source allowed the APS Community Clothing Bank to increase the number of students being served from hundreds to thousands. In 2016-2017, the Clothing Bank served 2,775 students, a new record. In 2017-2018, the Clothing Bank had already served over 2,200 by mid-year.

Method of Service Provision:

Students needing help with clothing are identified in a number of ways. Sometimes, teachers notice students coming to school without a winter coat or with ragged shoes. Sometimes, parents and older students request help with clothes directly. And sometimes, attendance officers discover the real reason students aren’t coming to school is that they are embarrassed by their clothes. When this happens, a school liaison fills out an online request form. Within seven days, the Clothing Bank delivers a package with 6 pairs of new socks, 6 pairs of underwear, a hoody or light jacket, clothing vouchers for three outfits at Goodwill Industries of New Mexico and if needed, a voucher for a new pair of shoes from Payless Shoe Source.  In total students are eligible for up to three Goodwill clothing vouchers (or 9 outfits), two sets of new socks and underwear, and one shoe card per school year.

Thanks to a partnership with Goodwill Industries of New Mexico, the clothing vouchers are provided free of cost. Goodwill stores are open evenings and weekends and are located near bus lines throughout the city, which takes advantage of existing distribution networks and saves thousands of dollars annually. Similarly, shoe vouchers, while not free, are very cost effective and allow students the dignity of choosing their own shoes. 

The APS Community Clothing Bank also partners with the Assistance League’s Operation School Bell, which focuses on providing shoes and uniforms at the thirty-five (35) APS Title I elementary schools and middle schools at which uniforms are required. If a student at a uniform school needs shoes or clothes, he or she is referred to the Assistance League and not the APS Community Clothing Bank. The thousands of students served by the APS Community Clothing Bank each year are in addition to the thousands served by the Assistance League and the organizations work hard to ensure they are never duplicating each other’s work.

Impact of the Program:

Chronic absenteeism is one of the strongest predictors of school failure researchers have seen. Students who miss more than two days of school a month, or about 10% of the year, are more likely not to read on grade level. Many times, chronic absenteeism is related to a lack of appropriate school clothing. If a child doesn’t have a warm winter coat on a cold day, he or she most likely won’t show up at school. A teenager embarrassed about wearing yesterday’s dirty clothes or last year’s too-small shoes faces just one more barrier to overcome. If funded by the United Way, the Clothing Bank will help Albuquerque reduce chronic absenteeism and have more students in school ready to learn each day.