LAS CRUCES – Great nonprofits are built on great partnerships. No organization – no matter how well funded or dedicated – can do everything. Partnerships allow us to learn from one another, help one another and ultimately provide a better quality of life for the clients we serve. For these reasons, Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico (CAASNM) is proud to be a part of the SUCCESS Partnership.

The SUCCESS Partnership and its goal of improving educational outcomes is both near to my heart and vital to the achievement of CAASNM’s vision – a community where opportunity exists for all to become self-sufficient. This vision is my guiding principle, both as the CEO of CAASNM and as a member of the SUCCESS Partnership’s Leader’s Circle. Whether members of our community learn a trade or pursue a collegiate degree, education is the key to self-sufficiency.

Like our colleagues in the SUCCESS Partnership, CAASNM is committed to the notion that education should start as early as possible – even in the home. Adela Trujillo, our director of Family Wellness, began administering the First Teacher curriculum in 2015 after receiving months of training. First Teacher empowers parents and home daycare providers by giving them the confidence and skills necessary to prepare young children for school and educational success. The curriculum emphasizes the importance of parents reading aloud to their children and helps children establish basic skills like shape and color recognition.

Indeed, the office space shared by CAASNM and Ngage has become something of a hub for nonprofit organizations in the El Paso and Las Cruces areas. Our shared space also serves as a home for the Children’s Reading Alliance (CRA), another SUCCESS Partnership colleague that focuses on advancing children’s literacy in Doña Ana County. Furthermore, CAASNM regularly hosts meetings and events for the organizations it fiscally sponsors including Cancer Aid Resource Education (CARE), the Coalition Against Bullying, and the Suicide Prevention Coalition. Our meeting rooms have also been used by organizations like ACLU of New Mexico and the Las Cruces Chess Academy.

In a similar vein, CAASNM’s partnership with the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce has provided an amazing opportunity for area nonprofits. During the summer of 2017, the Green Chamber began its Non-Profit Support and Success program to provide ongoing training and technical assistance to non-profit organizations. Specifically, training for nonprofit boards has been an area of emphasis and CAASNM has thus far hosted two, extensive board member workshops. These great events are open to the public and are free for attendees!

In addition to providing opportunities for training and collaboration, our shared space has also provided an opportunity for innovation. In response to the ever-increasing importance of social media engagement and online presence, our partners at Ngage created We Are IT – a startup company that provides nonprofits and local businesses with affordable, high quality IT services. CAASNM was one of the first clients for We Are IT, allowing the new company to gain valuable experience. We Are IT is headquartered in the same building as CAASNM and Ngage, providing both organizations with on-site support.

Ultimately, when I reflect on both the SUCCESS Partnership’s mission and the role of CAASNM, I recall the immortal words of Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Many of the Partnership’s initiatives exemplify this quote, as do CAASNM’s programs. However, I also believe that Douglass’ words are applicable to the non-profit sector. It is our moral responsibility to build strong and sustainable organizations. Just as the ills of poverty and injustice endure across generations, so must we – united by a common vision and working together for a brighter tomorrow.

Dawn Z. Hommer is the chief executive officer at the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico (CAASNM). Contributing column writer Marcus Crawford is the special assistant to the CEO of CAASNM. To contact CAASNM, visit

Dawn Z. Hommer Published 2:33 p.m. MT Jan. 20, 2018