ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About $300,000 in funding has already been secured for United Way of Central New Mexico’s new initiative, “Mission: Families,” said the initiative’s co-chair during a Wednesday breakfast meeting of the Economic Forum of Albuquerque.
“That’s people stepping up and saying, ‘We believe in what you are doing,'” said Helen Wertheim, who co-chairs Mission: Families, along with 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez.
The goal of the new initiative, launched in November, is to make sure families in Central New Mexico have resources “to care for and support their children, so they can succeed in education and in life.”
Mission: Families will complement the work already being done by Mission: Graduate, a cradle-to-career partnership of educators, local employers, government leaders and citizens working together so that 60,000 additional New Mexicans receive college degrees or certifications by 2020.
Part of the focus for Mission: Families will be identifying children who have been subjected to adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, and try to change their trajectory “by building resources and community around them,” Wertheim said.
ACEs are traumatic childhood events that may include abuse and neglect, living with someone who has an untreated mental illness, the death of a parent, or living in extreme economic insecurity. These experiences can negatively impact a child’s success in life and in school.
“With Mission: Families, we’re creating a support system and a family around a child,” Wertheim said. “Our definition of family is very broad because the definition of family is very broad. Some children are homeless, some children don’t have parents with them at all or one parent might be incarcerated, or they’re just not connected to a traditional family. So their family might be a grandmother, a coach, a teacher, someone in their church or a neighbor.”
Like Mission: Graduate, Mission: Families is not a program, but a collaboration that brings people together with resources, she said.
Also Wednesday, Mission: Graduate executive director Angelo Gonzales said updated graduation and certification numbers won’t be available for a couple of months, but from 2010 through 2015 there were 15,875 new graduates above and beyond what had been anticipated.