Allow me to introduce the Gadsden Chapter of the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coalition (DAC ECEC), formerly known as the Gadsden Early Childhood Coalition.  The Gadsden EC Chapter was formed in April 2016 under the Early Childhood Investment Zone Initiative. This collaborative of leaders meets monthly, on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, and comprises early childhood educators and professionals from approximately 20 organizations.  Their mission is to ensure the youngest children of the Gadsden Independent School District have the best environment to support their growth, development, and well-being.  The Coalition focuses on sharing resources, developing, and aligning early childhood services for the Prenatal to 5-year-old population, their families, and communities.  From 2016 to 2019, the Coalition coordinated and provided six professional development opportunities serving 227 early childhood educators and professionals, a Collaborative Leadership Institute for professionals, four family workshops serving 143 families, and led six family events integrating First Books and addressing pre-literacy. 

On March 11, 2020, the Gadsden EC Chapter met to finalize plans for a Family Resource Fair scheduled for April 2020.  One week later, the state of New Mexico shifted to virtual contact and halted all in-person early childhood services.  The Gadsden Chapter moved to remote communications and began holding all coalition meetings virtually. In July 2020, they began working with the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coalition and Ngage New Mexico to obtain and distribute supplies to families and early childhood providers in Doña Ana County.  Chapter members distributed resources to children and families, including water, formula, baby food, diapers, and COVID-19 safety supplies.  In the summer of 2020, the Gadsden chapter collaborated with the Kids-Can Program of Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico (CAASNM) to create and distribute “Boom Box” family activity kits in quarterly intervals throughout 2020-2021. The Gadsden chapter members designed activities and educational materials for children ages birth to 3-year-old and coordinated to assemble and distribute them to Chaparral, Anthony, and Sunland Park sites.

In the fall of 2021, the Gadsden Early Childhood Education Coalition formalized their long-time relationship with the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coalition of the Success Partnership, a prenatal-to-career education initiative, by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and thus became the Gadsden EC Chapter. Together the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Education Coalition, the Gadsden Chapter, and Ngage NM as a fiscal agent applied for and was awarded the Local Early Childhood Systems Building Grant by the NM Early Childhood Education and Care Department with the objectives of building and aligning early childhood services, increasing family engagement, and developing collaborative leadership for early childhood professionals and families.  The Gadsden Chapter will work closely with the Doña Ana Coalition and their Action Networks to implement the objectives of this grant in the Gadsden communities. 

In the fall of 2020, three Gadsden Chapter leaders were selected to participate in Creating Responsive Educational Avenues for Training Environments in Early Childhood (CREATE EC) with the University of New Mexico, College of Education & Human Sciences.  CREATE EC is a 2 Year Leadership Academy to strengthen early childhood goals for culturally responsive workforce development through relational leadership. CREATE EC is an interdisciplinary initiative to transform the College of Education and Human Sciences (COEHS) early childhood academic program and professional development approaches through partnerships with community leaders.  The selected Gadsden leaders will work closely with the Gadsden EC Chapter to implement a community project supporting early childhood educators and professionals. 

We hope you join and partner with the Gadsden EC Chapter, the Doña Ana County Early Childhood Coalition, and the Success Partnership to make Doña Ana County a better place for young children and families.

Ybeth Z. Iglesias, MPA
Bilingual Training & Development Consultant
UNM: Family Development Program

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