Thornburg Foundation Investment in The Bridge of Southern New Mexico Helps Move More Students toward College Completion

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For More Information, contact: 
Tracey Bryan, 575-644-6453

January 31, 2022

The Thornburg Foundation is making a significant investment in Doña Ana County’s educational ecosystem in order to develop a “better way” to advise students who take Dual Credit Courses.

In a collaboration between The Bridge of Southern New Mexico, Doña Ana Community College and the Las Cruces, Gadsden, and Hatch school districts, a new model for “blended advising” will be developed and piloted between high schools and the community college for Dual Credit students. Dual Credit Courses allow high school students to take college-level courses that help them advance them toward graduation in both places.

Thanks to a $70,000, 18-month grant from the Thornburg Foundation, the collaboration will seek to pioneer “blended advising, ” which will seek to unite high school counselors and college Dual Credit advisors as well-informed partners who understand both systems. Equipped with knowledge and relationships, both counselors and advisors will come alongside students in choosing courses that lead to college completion faster and at less expense, while preparing them to start their careers sooner and at higher rates of pay than if they hadn’t secured college credentials/degrees.

The importance of understanding and information sharing between college and high school staff is essential to helping students benefit the most from their Dual Credit choices. Without proper guidance, students can choose courses that ultimately don’t progress toward college credentials or degrees, wasting both time and money. One of the outcomes of the grant may include development of an online tool that helps better connect the two systems.

“High school students pursuing dual credit deserve clear guidance that will help them select courses to set them on a path toward college graduation,” said Allan Oliver, Executive Director of the Thornburg Foundation.  “We are delighted to partner with The Bridge of Southern New Mexico on this innovative model and hope the lessons learned in Doña Ana County will improve high school outcomes across the state.” 

In a major study in Texas, the lack of blended advising was identified as a weakness in the success of their expansive Dual Credit program. New Mexico, as a state, suffers the same fate presently, which is why the need to develop a model like this is imperative.

“Propelling the students of Doña Ana County toward high school graduation and earning college credentials as quickly and cost-effectively as possible is key to the future earning power and economic wellbeing of graduates, their families, and the county at large,” said Debbi Moore, Board Chair of The Bridge of Southern New Mexico and President/CEO of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce. “We are fortunate to have strong partnerships between our county’s educational institutions for us to experiment and implement an approach that will benefit other communities in the state.”

The Bridge of Southern New Mexico will serve as the convener and facilitator for this effort, and the SOAR Lab at the College of Education at New Mexico State University wills serve as the evaluator. The goal would be to track student outcomes over the grant period and beyond, to see if Doña Ana County’s students in Career and Technical Education, Early College High Schools, and those taking common course Dual Credit courses are earning credentials at higher rates than students outside the county and if they are earning more when they enter the workforce with higher skill levels.


About The Bridge of Southern New Mexico
The Bridge of Southern New Mexico leads the conversations that are driving educational and economic success for young people by understanding that student success can happen at many levels – starting with high school graduation and continuing into career-certifications, two-year, four-year, and post-graduate college degrees. This innovative, business-led collaborative unites top educational leaders in Doña Ana County (the Las Cruces, Gadsden and Hatch school districts, Doña Ana Community College, and New Mexico State University) with business, economic development and government leaders to literally bridge the skills and knowledge gaps between education and career readiness for students. 

About the Thornburg Foundation
Thornburg Foundation is a family foundation that makes grants in the areas of good government reform, water reform, education reform, agriculture reform, and community funding. The Foundation works to catalyze high-impact outcomes using evidence to understand and solve systemic problems, engage stakeholders to drive policy reform, and create meaningful and lasting change in New Mexico. Thornburg Foundation was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico


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February 1, 2022