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New Mexico Nonprofits Lead Panel Discussion On Equity In Education Through Dual-Language Programs

Representatives from the LANL Foundation board and staff attended the Grantmakers for Education (GFE) Annual Conference in Denver and led a discussion on dual language learning.

The event on Oct. 26-28 was guided by the theme, “Equity in Education: Conversations We’re Not Having.”

The conference featured keynote speakers and breakout sessions that focused on education through the lenses of race, ethnicity, poverty, identity, STEM, language, social/emotional support, youth leadership, community partnerships, rural areas, policy, and power structures.

The conference also presented opportunities for grantmakers to learn how to play a leadership role in education guided by evidence-based practices that support and accelerate change in the education system.

“The Grantmakers in Education Conference helps us understand the latest thinking in education, and we learn things we hope to share with our colleagues and education community here in New Mexico,” LANL Foundation CEO Jenny Parks said. “This year’s event brought together more than 500 education funders, educators and nonprofits from around the country and was of particular interest due to its subject of equity in education, a complex issue we all face.”

LANL Foundation program director Gwen Perea Warniment facilitated a panel discussion titled “Language Rights and Educational Transformation: Equity Beyond Proficiency” that provided funders the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with three representations of equity-based education initiatives in New Mexico. The discussion surrounded examples of innovative tribal schools, a pioneering leadership network and a state-wide, dual-language program that create an environment that values first languages and cultural identity and support physical, cultural, academic and emotional wellness for children and youth in Native American communities and for Spanish-speaking, emergent bilingual students.

“This was a unique opportunity for the LANL Foundation to demonstrate that language and voice are integral to community growth,” Warniment said. “It is important that we deeply listen to our community needs in our attempt to support them.”

The five-person panel included Dual Language Education of New Mexico (DLeNM), a statewide nonprofit located in Albuquerque, NM. Executive director David Rogers, director of programming Lisa Meyer and coordinator of tribal initiatives Patrick Werito spoke of the grass-roots educational nonprofit and its efforts to serve the needs of New Mexican communities in the development, refinement or implementation of dual-language education programs.

Tracey Cordero, board co-chair of Keres Children’s Learning Center, a Montessori school and educational nonprofit that supports Cochiti Pueblo children and families, shared the center’s work to maintain, strengthen and revitalize the heritage language of Keres and integrate a comprehensive cultural and academic curriculum.

The panel also included Anpao Duta Flying Earth, head of school and associate director for the Native American Community Academy (NACA), an Albuquerque-based, public charter school serving middle and high school students of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds from more than 30 different tribes.

NACA’s small school environment integrates culture, wellness, language, community and family. Its philosophy is grounded in both the Native American tradition and a rigorous, modern approach to college-preparatory education, requiring excellence from students, dedication from teachers and commitment from parents.

Since 1995, GFE has gathered a diverse group of education philanthropists to collaborate and share insights and resources to inform and guide investments in education.

The organization is the nations’ largest network of education grantmakers, made up of 1400 individuals and 300 organizations, dedicated to improving educational outcomes and increasing opportunities for all learners.