PED Awards $7.4 Million In Community School Grants


The Public Education Department today announced a new $7.4 million investment in the Community School strategy, awarding grants to 68 schools to harness specific techniques, programs and practices shown to improve academic outcomes, especially in schools with high numbers of students from low-income families.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law the New Mexico Community Schools Act in April 2019, and the number of schools applying for and receiving grants has increased every year since then.

Community Schools are existing schools that engage the entire community in identifying barriers to academic achievement and then implementing home-grown strategies to provide students with whatever they need to be academically successful, often by leveraging community resources. 

“We continue to grow the Community School strategy in New Mexico because it works,” Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said. “This strategy takes to heart the saying that it takes a village to raise a child by including the whole community – from families to local businesses – in securing the education and welfare of our kids.”

The 2022-23 award total exceeds last year’s $6.8 million investment, which helped 50 schools implement or expand their unique Community School strategy through actions and partnerships to meet the needs of their students. This year’s awards will go to 68 schools, including 20 that received planning grants to begin implementing the Community School strategy.

“This is not more money for programs but a new way of doing school,” said Feliz Garcia, the Public Education Department’s Community Schools director. “These schools are opening up, becoming hubs of their communities, and that changes everything.”

Each Community School identifies its own needs and capacities, which may include on-campus health and dental clinics, after-school programming, deep engagement with families and community organizations, and collaborative leadership practices.

In New Mexico, the Community School strategy is intended to improve the conditions for learning, which should lead to increased attendance and graduation rates, among other outcomes. The strategy aligns with New Mexico’s response to the Martinez-Yazzie Consolidated Lawsuit over education equity and the Public Education Department’s Comprehensive Strategic Plan.

Schools previously have been eligible for one planning grant followed by three renewal grants over subsequent years. However, this year, six schools received fourth-year renewal grants to support them as the Public Education Department transitions to a different funding process. Those schools are:

  • Hawthorne Elementary, Albuquerque Public Schools;
  • Los Padillas Elementary, Albuquerque Public Schools;
  • Manzano Mesa Elementary, Albuquerque Public Schools;
  • Robert F. Kennedy Charter School, Albuquerque Public Schools;
  • Lynn Community Middle School, Las Cruces Public Schools, and
  • Cesar Chavez Elementary, Santa Fe Public Schools.

The Public Education Department hopes to begin funding Certified Community Schools beginning in the 2023-24 school year. This means that schools that have received renewal grants and met all the grant requirements would become Certified Community Schools and be eligible for continued funding year after year.

“This will complete the transition of the Community Schools Strategy from a grant-based program to one with continuing support to provide assurance to schools that this work will continue,” Garcia said.

This is a breakdown of the 2022-23 Community School grants:

  • Planning grants: 20 total, about $50,000 each
  • Year One renewal grants:  19 total, $150,000 each
  • Year Three renewal grants: 23 total, averaging $137,000 each
  • Year Four renewal grants: 6 total, averaging $66,500 each