You’re invited to Candyland Christmas, a celebration of our local youth with Kids Can of Community Action Agency,  and other community organizations, on December 4th from 9 am to 1 pm at the Las Cruces Downtown Plaza.  Kids Can is excited to be back in public and is working hard to ensure this is a safe space, with socially distanced outdoor activities for the whole family. This event features kids who have awakened their entrepreneurial spirit and created an original business plan, including product, pitch, pricing, and marketing.  Through the Kids Can programming and support, they have explored start-up costs for their business ideas and obtained feedback and guidance from local industry professionals and experts on conducting a sale with customers, including counting money and making change. The kids will set up and operate all booths, including sales, transactions, and interacting with customers.  $500 in cash prizes will be awarded within three age groups judged by the most original business idea, best business potential, and best presentation. 


Though Kids Can activities have not been as public-facing these last couple of years, their mission to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit within youth aged 6-17  has not slowed down.  The youth-driven, strength-based programming grows youth-owned businesses by fostering skills such as leadership, critical thinking, teamwork, customer service, communication, confidence building, self-reliance, personal empowerment, and age-appropriate business concepts.   This time has allowed for a paramount focus on connections and expansion.  “Collaboration has been instrumental in carving the path from a mother’s project to help inspire and fill the special educational needs of her children to a federally funded and regionally operated program.  Creating this program is very much what we teach our kids in the program.  We are jumping over barriers and collaborating with our community. That is exactly what you do as a business owner,” said April Christensen, Founder of Kids Can, a Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico program.


Candyland Christmas is the capstone event celebrating this collaboration and expansion. During the fall Kids Can joined in partnership with NMSU STEM Outreach Center (21st Century), Las Cruces, Public Schools, Gadsden Independent School District, and Hatch Valley Public Schools, who are all members of the SUCCESS Partnership. Kids Can shared the new curriculum and asked certified teachers and educational assistants throughout Doña Ana County to facilitate after-school programs with the support of their amazing staff.  The expansion will not be possible without additional teachers to help bring these programs to additional schools.  The participating instructors get paid through 21st Century grant funds.  They also receive another stipend for training and curriculum feedback, advancing the clarity and ease of delivery to this already age-appropriate and comprehensive new curriculum.  Kids Can is looking forward to bringing this tested and youth-approved program for entrepreneurship across the southwest and beyond.  April concluded, “The only way we are going to be able to increase our reach is if we can capture these out-of-school funding through our pilot program partnerships.”

If you want to get involved or learn more, contact, (575) 527-8999. Ext. 117.  You can also learn more and stay in the loop on social media.  Facebook: @kidscan.dac, YouTube & Instagram: KidsCan_YEP. “We are looking for great youth mentors and community sponsors,” April says. “Just a few dollars or an hour a week can open up doors and change the world for our youth.” 

Sommer Mitchell
Communications Coordinator
SUCCESS Partnership

April Christensen
Founder of Kids Can
Community Action Agency of SNM