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City Will Invest Half Million Dollars to Connect Low-Income Workers to Better Jobs at Essential and Minority-Owned Businesses

$450,000 grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation to boost COVID-19 recovery, support workers and local businesses with a focus on childcare

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Today, Mayor Tim Keller announced the City of Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department has been awarded a $450,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. These funds will support the City’s efforts to help workers get training and connect them to local small businesses in essential sectors and speed up the COVID-19 economic recovery. The City will hire a Workforce Development Liaison at the Small Business Office to coordinate the efforts of workforce development programs across Albuquerque, and help un- and under-employed workers find a path to a good job during and after the COVID-19 crisis. The City is also adding an Early Childhood Education Navigator to assist the Workforce Development Liaison in constructing pathways to good jobs for childcare professionals, which is especially important in light of recent announcements on the plans for school reopening and the need for high-quality early childhood education and care.

“This grant will boost our efforts to weave equity into all aspects of our city and to build an economy that works for everyone, which matters now more than ever. With a dedicated Workforce Development Liaison at our Small Business Office, we’ll be able to provide opportunities for low-income folks to get training and placement with good jobs,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “During these challenging times, we need programs like these to play a role in helping workers and businesses recover.” 

The grant will allow the City to improve what is known as employment equity—delivering better outcomes and better career pathways for lower-income individuals. With the support of the new Workforce Development Liaison, the Economic Development Department will coordinate efforts among education, workforce, and governmental partners to provide job training and employment opportunities; host virtual training events and small group workshops when it’s safe to do so; develop career pathways for people to move into higher-wage opportunities; and collaborate with both workforce development partners and individual businesses on recovery solutions that will help businesses safely re-open and bring their employees back to work.

The Economic Development Department will place a special focus on the Early Childhood Education and Care workforce, which emerged as “essential” during the pandemic, and where businesses are largely owned, operated, and staffed by women of color. With all of Albuquerque—and the world—realizing what it takes to deliver high-quality early childhood education and care, and how important that care is to the rest of the economy, the City will add an Early Childhood Education Navigator to assist the new Workforce Development Liaison in constructing pathways to good jobs for childcare professionals.

“This grant is a great opportunity for the Economic Development Department to use our influence to create a system shift in our local workforce development efforts. We recognize the critical value of high-quality early childhood education and care, especially as we see how COVID is going to affect our schools reopening,” said Synthia Jaramillo, City of Albuquerque Economic Development Director. “Albuquerque has many people and agencies dedicated to this work, and it is very important that we coordinate all of these efforts for greater impact on our local economy.”

The Economic Development Department identified the need for this project after a survey of Albuquerque’s workforce development system found that partners requested more collaboration and alignment among groups working to ensure access to economic opportunities for low-income people. Early efforts will focus on creative solutions for strengthening the workforce and helping businesses regain revenues as New Mexico’s economy re-opens. At the end of the grant, the City of Albuquerque Economic Development Department will share its findings locally and nationally to inform other agencies’ efforts to improve local workforce development systems and respond to crises.