Provides More than 1 Million Dollars for Innovative Program
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The city’s Running Start for Careers program has been selected to receive $1.6 million in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency which administers the AmeriCorps program. Over the next three years, this funding will support 84 AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members.
The program Running Start for Careers, created by Mayor Richard J. Berry, allows high school sophomores, juniors and seniors to earn dual-credit hours toward graduation while obtaining valuable work skills and on-the-job training in high demand industries. Students graduate with an industry certificate showing pre-apprenticeship or career development training that could be submitted to potential employers. The program incorporates technical training, real world hands on experience, and soft skills without burdening the state with large capital investments or operational costs.
“For twenty years, AmeriCorps has been a powerful and proven solution to community needs across the nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. “I commend Mayor Berry and Governor Martinez for using AmeriCorps to expand economic opportunity for young people in Albuquerque. They know what Governors and Mayors across the country know: that AmeriCorps works - it solves problems, strengthens communities, and expands opportunity for those who serve.”
This innovative, new AmeriCorps program is designed to achieve the economic growth goals shared by Mayor Berry and Governor Susana Martinez, and to enhance the City of Albuquerque’s youth workforce growth strategies. The grant funding was requested through Governor Martinez and Mayor Berry’s Governor-Mayor Initiative. AmeriCorps members will be placed as “success coaches” at high schools, where they will identify students who could benefit from the career track, mentor students who are already participating and track their success, and ensure that they have wrap around services necessary to balance the other demands of their lives and families while staying on track with the industry training and courses. Funds will also be utilized to incorporate a financial literacy element to enhance fundamental life skills for participants.
In addition, Mayor Berry has announced that eight full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members will serve at the Running Start for Careers program sites to cultivate internship and apprenticeship opportunities for students. These additional resources are critical to growing an employer network to support students beyond graduation.
“Running Start for Careers is an important piece of continuing to prepare students for the workforce and ensuring fewer students drop out of school,” said Governor Martinez. “Through the continuing Governor and Mayor Initiative, I’m pleased to continue to work with Mayor Berry to put New Mexico’s students first.”
Mayor Berry created the Running Start for Careers program shortly after taking office and it has had extraordinary success with 99% of participants of graduating age completing high school. More than 340 students have benefited from the program to date and it has a 98% completion rate. CNM was an early partner in the initiative which includes Albuquerque Public Schools and surrounding charter schools. The various focus areas include construction, film, finance, healthcare, hotel/tourism, surveying and lab sciences. These additional funds will help to address the significant demand which has emerged for these critical programs.
“We are thrilled that the CNCS has recognized the incredible value of this innovative program which helps kids succeed in both career and life and provides a skilled workforce for employers,” stated Mayor Berry. “With these federal funds we are able to expand the program throughout the district, providing resources to more kids who may not otherwise have access to dual-credit courses combined with real life training, and creating a legitimate career path in a high demand industry.”
The Financial Services Career Exploration course, which makes up the financial branch of Running Start for Careers, was designed by New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union. It prepares students for financial services careers. Students interact with industry experts and develop knowledge necessary to obtain employment. Students also gain personal finance, academic, and life skills necessary for successful transition into college and/or future employment.
“New Mexico Educators FCU has benefited greatly from engaged, educated student interns,” said Terry Laudick, president and CEO of New Mexico Educators FCU. “Career enrichment programs like Running Start for Careers are a catalyst for improving the future of both our students and our state.” New Mexico Educators FCU employs more Running Start for Careers interns than any other organization in New Mexico.
The AmeriCorps grant program is made possible through the CNCS and administered locally by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions and the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism.