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Jump seen in post-secondary educational achievement in central New Mexico

Angelo Gonzales, Mission: Graduate executive director, says increasing the number of people with post-secondary degrees and certifications is "good for the economic vitality and overall well-being of our community"

Angelo Gonzales, Mission: Graduate executive director, says increasing the number of people with post-secondary degrees and certifications is “good for the economic vitality and overall well-being of our community.” (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

An additional 20,226 new graduates with post-secondary degrees and certificates have been added to the Central New Mexico region between 2010 and 2016, according to the most recent data released Friday by Mission: Graduate.

The “new” number is defined as the number of additional graduates above the baseline certificate and degree attainment rate established in 2010. The total number of degrees and certificates awarded during the same time frame was 92,789.

Mission: Graduate, an initiative of United Way of Central New Mexico, is a cradle-to-career partnership consisting of educators, local employers, educational support providers, government leaders and citizens.

The partners are all committed to the goal of encouraging 60,000 new graduates with college degrees or certificates in central New Mexico by the year 2020.

Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico are largely responsible for the gains made in the number of people with degrees and certifications.

“Our community should be proud of the exceptional work being done by our public postsecondary institutions to increase college attainment in our region,” said Angelo Gonzales, executive director of Mission: Graduate, in a statement. “Having more residents with post-high school certificates and degrees is good for the people who hold those credentials and it’s good for the economic vitality and overall well-being of our community.”

In 2017, the Albuquerque metro was designated as a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation, meaning Albuquerque, along with other designated cities, meets rigorous standards for creating environments that attract, retain and cultivate talent.

That’s particularly significant among today’s students, many of whom are people of color, the first in their families to go to college, and from low-income households.

To help increase the number of adults attending college, Mission: Graduate and its partners sponsor a number of programs to help working-age adults enroll or re-enroll in college. These include:

• Working with more than 40 school-based attendance teams to help reduce chronic absenteeism.

• Working with four schools in Albuquerque’s South Valley and with Junior Achievement in Valencia County schools on career exploration projects to increase the number and quality of career experiences available in middle and high school.

• Supporting science and math teachers from Rio Rancho Public Schools and Los Lunas Schools to better use technology in the classroom and make connections with local business professionals to learn about real-world applications of science and math.

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