Just as the Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico all have their own foundations to support those entities, the city of Albuquerque now has its own foundation with the formal launching of the One Albuquerque Fund.
At a Tuesday news conference at the Wine.Dive. restaurant Downtown, attended by city officials and representatives of the business community, Mayor Tim Keller said this is “the best way for the city to partner with businesses, individuals, nonprofits and foundations, because we’re all in this together as One Albuquerque.”
The fund, he said, allows the city to better “facilitate public-private partnerships to deal with some of our biggest issues.”
The foundation’s board of directors has identified four areas that it initially wants to provide additional funding, Keller said. These are police recruitment, job training, and homeless and youth initiatives.
He noted that since word got out that the city had created the One Albuquerque Fund, private donations immediately began coming in. The fund already has $200,000, he said, and on Tuesday the foundation presented checks of $5,000 in support of police recruitment, and $20,000 to provide additional housing vouchers for the homeless.
Foundation president Charles Ashley III, said that none of the money currently in the fund came from diverting money from existing city programs. In addition, the foundation will be fully transparent and the names of donors will be listed on the One Albuquerque Fund website at http://oneabq.extravertedexplorer.com/oneabqhome.php. That list had not been posted as of Tuesday.
Gilbert Ramirez, deputy director of the city’s health and behavioral health programs, noted that the community is still trying to rebuild services that were lost in 2013 when the state Human Services Department shut down 15 behavioral health providers because of alleged Medicaid fraud – allegations that proved to be false.
“As a result, we lost some vital services in our community for that continuum of care and we have been trying to rebuild the services we need in that area,” Ramirez said. “The city has been a huge stakeholder in investing in that.”
He also said that those services are important to the homeless, because many of them have mental health issues.
David Romo, head of recruiting for the Albuquerque Police Department, said the department is struggling to get qualified candidates. It has sought applicants from around New Mexico and is now recruiting in Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Miami and California. The One Albuquerque Fund will help in that effort to let potential recruits know that APD offers competitive salaries in a city that has a very affordable cost of living.
Cristin Chavez-Smith, who heads up children’s programs for the city’s Family and Community Services Department, said the new funds will help make current programs “bigger and better” and aid in creating “new, innovative programs” with community partners.
The new funds will also allow the city to respond to the small business community, which has been saying for years that it needs resources to support training for small businesses and workforce development, said Synthia Jaramillo, director of the city’s Economic Development Department.
To fill that gap, she said, the new Job Training Albuquerque program will officially launch on Thursday, and will be “available to companies that probably would not qualify for job training incentives” offered at the state level.
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