The LAB’s mission is to support youth in creating a sustainable and healthy community through the arts, communication, and action. The LAB accomplishes this by integrating meaningful hands-on learning with real-world problem-solving. The LAB Learning Action Buffet has initiated the Creating Equity in Education (CEE) project to support the Southern New Mexico (SNM) Equity Forum. As stated in the newly released Education Context Report from the NMSU Center for Community Analysis In Doña Ana County, Hispanic or Latino persons are twice as likely as white non-Hispanics to lack access to the internet or a computer. This is just one example of many inequities present in our school system today. Infusing equity into the fabric of the New Mexico educational system will take a concerted effort among all stakeholders, as well as greater awareness about what equity in education looks like and how to achieve it.

To accomplish this, a youth-driven strategy is the best approach. The younger generation has a personal understanding of the education system along with incredible insights, creativity, and an interest in civic engagement. As stated by LAB Youth Leader A. Quintana, “Young people need to have a seat at the table as we map out what equitable education looks like. We are the ones who have sat in the classrooms and seen where our school system falls short. I am so proud to be working alongside Dr. Valverde and our youth team to bolster youth voice. By working with our mentors, community members, and state leaders, we can collaboratively solve the problems we face.”
The CEE team, comprised of LAB Youth Leaders and Dr. Michelle Valverde, the CEE Project Director, is partnering with other groups active in the SNM Equity Forum. Ngage New Mexico and the SUCCESS Partnership highly support the CEE project knowing that access to equitable education opportunities continues to be a problem in New Mexico. The SUCCESS Partnership embraces the idea the “education is a shared responsibility” and is committed to transforming education outcomes in Doña Ana County so that all children have a foundation from which to thrive in school and life.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is supporting the CEE project with a $50,000 grant from the. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work, and life. For more information, visit
The first phase of the project is underway. It includes developing a youth-driven public awareness campaign with creative graphics, audio, and video that will hit traditional and social media this spring. Alongside the public awareness campaign, the CEE team is also working to provide input into developing a long-range plan for education in the state. The third component of the project entails outreach and support to current educators and equity councils in southern NM.

“This project will raise awareness about how to achieve racial equity in education in New Mexico,” Valverde said. “With greater understanding, the public can rally around our educators, families, and youth to help transform the educational system, so it works for all students in our state.”

Find more information about the LAB and the SNM Equity Forum at

The SUCCESS Partnership is a prenatal to career readiness education initiative founded in 2013. The collaborative is supported by a diverse cross-sector group of organizations comprised of parents, education professionals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, regional partners, and community leaders committed to improving educational outcomes in Dona Ana County. The primary support organizations for the SUCCESS Partnership collaborative are Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, Ngage New Mexico, La Clinica de Familia Family Services, and NMSU Center for Community Analysis.
For more information, or if you would like to be involved, please contact Sommer Mitchell, SUCCESS Partnership Communications Coordinator, at