The University of New Mexico is in the middle of its 2020 UNM Gives United Way campaign, which runs through #GivingTuesday on Dec. 1. Highlighting the university’s commitment to the United Way of Central New Mexico (UWCNM) is one way to express The University's gratitude for continued support from the central New Mexico community. 

UNM has been a proud supporter of the UWCNM for more than 25 years. Last year’s UNM Gives Campaign raised more than $915,000. However, UNM’s participation in the United Way Campaign goes far beyond supporting the annual campaign. Many faculty, staff and students volunteer with UWCNM, participate in events, and help year-round through service and volunteering. UNM both gives and benefits from the organization’s many programs and activities.

Mission- Graduate logo

UWCNM sponsors Mission: Graduate as a part of their Impact Agenda to increase educational attainment. Their mission-vision is a world-class, seamless, and coordinated education system that provides equitable opportunities for all children and youth to excel and succeed in school, graduate with a post-secondary certificate or degree, and enter a career of their choosing in central New Mexico.

Mission: Graduate, in partnership with the community, works to achieve some major goals, which include boosting the number of students receiving college degrees and certificates, increasing school attendance and engagement, creating college and career exploration opportunities and developing career pathways, and helping adults transition back to school. UNM benefits from this initiative as UWCNM encourages students around the state to get college degrees and certificates.

Several individuals at UNM have been directly involved with UWCNM’s Mission: Graduate Initiative, which was designed to help create 60,000 new graduates and certificates by 2020. This goal was to be achieved by community involvement through various committees, such as K-12 attendance and engagement, college and career readiness, and adult transitions to college. It is truly a cradle to career community initiative to better New Mexico. 

One of those UNM individuals is Jenna Crabb, director, Office of Career Services. Crabb has been involved with the initiative for the past five years and is highly involved with the College and Career Readiness Initiative and the Adult Transitions to College Initiatives. She has helped co-chair the college and career readiness committee for many years.

“During this time, I helped conduct a faculty workshop in which we invited CNM and UNM faculty to participate and learn how to prepare our college students with career skills for success,” said Crabb. “It was a great experience to hear from faculty on how they were engaging their students in classes by articulating skill development to curriculum. I also presented many times to the committee on Generational Differences which was always fun and collaborative.” 

Central NM Graduate Profile

Another memorable committee Crabb has been involved with is the Employer Partnership Committee. This group focused on engaging employer partners in career initiatives and internship opportunities for our community. The committee also planned events and listened to employers in New Mexico to gain valuable information on how to prepare the state’s up-and-coming workforce through its educational institutions. 

“I have been involved in so many of these great initiatives and have witnessed the dedication and commitment to our New Mexico youth - whether it be through our K-12 students or with our college students,” said Crabb. ” For me, these great committees have pulled together individuals who are all dedicated to improving New Mexico; through education and involvement, we truly all believe in the power of our community helping our youth be successful in their graduations and then their career paths.   

“I am very proud of the work we have accomplished and look forward to continuing my involvement in this organization. It takes all of us to put ALL our students, K-12, college and those returning to college to succeed today. I know Mission: Graduate is continuing to work towards the goals and vision for the organization; I look forward to continuing to be a representative for UNM at our meetings and through my involvement.”

In work UWCNM has done with middle schools in the South Valley, UNM has also helped in supporting field trips by eighth grade students to UNM to expand their reality on what is possible in their future, Nojek said, citing Crabb’s participation to help develop a better system of alignment in categorizing and counting career experiences between CNM and UNM. Crabb also supported the development of the UNM 5 in response to this whole effort and worked in alignment with the Department of Workforce Solutions (another core partner for Mission: Graduate) to utilize their career pathway development tools including their Career Solutions and Internship websites and WorkKeys assessments for UNM students.

“We have always had a strong collaboration with UNM specifically Career Services Director Jenna Crabb, Assistant Vice President of Student Services Tim Gutierrez, Professor Marjori Krebs from the UNM College of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy,” said Jessica Nojek, UWCNM Mission: Graduate director of community impact. “Since Mission: Graduate is a Collective Impact organization, we depend on our partners to align their actions toward our common goal of 60,000 new degrees and certificates from our baseline year of 2010. Each has been instrumental in supporting our College and Career Readiness Strategy.”

Also, UWCNM has a contract with the UNM Cradle to Career Policy Institute (CCPI) to support data collection efforts as a core part of its continuous improvement efforts tied to its goal, Nojek also noted. Research assistants from CCPI provide support in developing surveys, analyzing data, and created an online dashboard tied to the UWCNM annual data report. 

“Through our collaboration with Marjori Krebs, we are also exploring how college and career readiness awareness tied to work-based learning can overlap in teacher education, and Community School Coordinator training,” Nojek added. “UNM has also been supportive of our Graduate! ABQ coaching program to help provide warm hand-offs for adult comebackers to go back to school. UNM was a part of our original core guiding team that helped develop the coaching model and provide navigation for potential students with our coach.”

Teri Wimborne, director of Collective Impact at Mission: Graduate added, “We also want to lift up New Mexico PBS, also part of UNM, and an integral partner in our work.”

Mission- Grad Launchpad

New Mexico PBS (KNME), located in Albuquerque, is one of the most prolific stations in the Southwest, one of the most-watched and one of the most successful in per capita fundraising in the country. Dually-owned and licensed by The University of New Mexico and Albuquerque Public Schools, the station serves the New Mexico community through its broadcast of programs tailored to the community it serves.

Laurel Wyckoff, Education and Outreach manager at New Mexico PBS, has been the lead in the high school graduation work since the network was created in 2013, Wimborne said, and is heavily involved in many aspects of UWCNM’s work, including college and career readiness in Valencia County. Also, Franz Joachim, NMPBS General Manager and CEO, serves on Mission: Graduate’s Vision Council.

“Both Laurel and Franz have been instrumental in bringing many NMPBS resources to our work, and continue to lead our attendance work as we develop supports for school-based attendance teams,” Wimborne said.

UNM has been a strong partner in UWCNM’s attendance work Wimborne said, citing Family Engagement coordinator Maria Molina and Student Success Initiatives coordinator Evelyn Bonilla from the UNM ENLACE program. Both have been members of the Attendance Team Project Group since the attendance team support began in 2016.

“Both ladies bring a wealth of ideas and information as we have worked to support school-based attendance teams with resources and tools,” Wimborne remarked. ENLACE is a statewide collaboration of gente who represent the voices of underrepresented children and families – people who have not traditionally had a say in policy initiatives that have had a direct impact on their communities or their families. Programs centered on family and community engagement, student-to-student mentoring, establishment of sound policies, development of culturally relevant curricula, professional development for educators, encompass the essence of what ENLACE New Mexico fosters.

Another part of Mission: Graduate’s leadership circle called the Vision Council includes UNM president Garnett Stokes as an important member and voice to UWCNM’s work, Nojek added.

To learn more, visit Mission: Graduate progress. To learn about UNM’s 2020 campaign, visit UNM Gives.