Mission: Graduate, an initiative of United Way of Central New Mexico, in partnership with The University of New Mexico (UNM), New Mexico Workforce Connection Central Region, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the City of Albuquerque, and Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) announces a new service called “Graduate! ABQ.”

Graduate! ABQ is a support system designed to help adults get to and through college by helping them explore post-high school educational options, enroll in a program of study at one of our region’s institutions of higher education, figure out how to pay for it, and connect with the people who can help them succeed in their program of study. Graduate! ABQ is a key strategy to help achieve Mission: Graduate’s goal of adding 60,000 new graduates with college degrees and certificates to our central New Mexico region by the year 2020.

“Research shows that by 2020, 63 percent of all jobs in New Mexico will require some post-high school education,” said Angelo Gonzales, executive director, Mission: Graduate. “Our own research tells us that in addition to time and money being a barrier, the lack of information is also a key limiter. Our goal is to help people who have not considered enrolling, or choose not to enroll, in a certificate or degree program because they don’t know where to start.”

Specifically, the Graduate! ABQ coach who sits at the New Mexico Workforce Connection office, helps adults think through how education fits into their career goals; navigate the systems through which they can obtain financial support; develop strategies to balance work, school, and life; and plan for unanticipated expenses that might come up.

“We’re pleased to join forces on this service that helps adult individuals take the first steps toward getting into college,” said Leslie Sanchez, board chair, Workforce Connection of Central NM.  “Additionally, I believe that the efforts of this partnership will lead to more successful outcomes – and by that I mean careers and jobs for many here in central New Mexico.”

Mayor Richard J. Berry adds, “When we focus on helping people achieve the jobs they want through skills improvement and academic enhancement, we help improve the health and vitality of our economy. Mission: Graduate and their new program, Graduate! ABQ is an innovative step in the right direction as we continue to bolster and support our growing workforce.”

UNM employees who support the United Way, through the annual UNM Gives Campaign, have the ability to donate directly to this new community service. The United Way plans to direct Community Fund dollars towards this program and other more focused education programs in upcoming campaigns.

Adult students interested in connecting with a Graduate! ABQ coach can schedule an appointment at graduateabq.org , by calling 505-843-1989 or emailing graduateabq@gmail.com .