January 1, 2009
In a state where the majority of the population is minority, how youth maneuver through the educational system plays a determining role in the economic well-being of the state. ENLACE New Mexico was created in 2001 to empower the community, students and educators to affect positive change in the public educational system, leading to increased student success, not just for Hispanics, but for all students. An acronym for Engaging Latino Communities for Education, ENLACE also has meaning in Spanish - "to link or weave together". A critical premise of "ENLACE" is that partnerships can result in systemic changes as local schools, colleges and universities work together in new ways. In addition, connecting disenfranchised communities to the educational process can shift the work from a series of disconnected projects into an educational movement. ENLACE's theory of action assumes investing in multi-pronged strategies will create the student-level and systems-level impacts that define "ENLACE's" goals and objectives. Therefore, getting incremental results, even if they are limited improvements in a small arena, signals change is possible and provides momentum for sustaining ENLACE's work. As "ENLACE" New Mexico continues to grow and evolve, participants will face continuing challenges. Establishing partnerships that will outlive fleeting external funds requires building relationships and laying down community roots to address educational disparities for the long term. In turn, these partnerships signal to students that their educational achievement matters to everyone in the community.