Administration Initiatives and Interagency Collaboration

Devloping Academic and Career Pathways for Youth

In 2018, the court ordered the State of New Mexico to provide educational programs, services and funding to schools to prepare students so that they are college- and career-ready. For the last two years NMDWS has increased its statewide outreach efforts to promote and educate community leaders, partners, organizations, and young people about available career readiness and exploration tools and resources.

Career Exploration:

This website provides career exploration tools to help individuals identify careers they’re interested in so they can get started on the right path to employment.

Why I Work:

Why I Work is a financial literacy and career exploration tool designed and developed for youth. This unique tool enables youth to create fiscal scenarios about how they envision their future and provides them with an overall budget, career choices, and training programs to plan their future.


NMDWS supports an internship portal designed for youth, employers, and experienced professionals as a career pathway planning and workforce development tool. The portal enables employers to announce internship opportunities and provides information for youth seeking placements to enhance their skills and experience. The portal also provides guidance for employers on how to successfully adapt the workplace for an internship and provides tips for youth on how to prepare and find the right placement.

DWS Apprenticeships:

Apprenticeship programs combine paid on-the-job training with related classroom instruction. The Apprenticeship webpage allows students to explore “earn and learn” career pathways available statewide and provides guidance on how to apply and prepare for an apprenticeship opportunity.

DWS Cross-Agency Partnerships and Collaboration

New Mexico Commission on Volunteerism (AmeriCorps):

NMDWS provides operational support for AmeriCorps, which provides opportunities for adult individuals with a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate to make an intensive commitment to a service project for a minimum of two years. AmeriCorps members have a 27% higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.

582 AmeriCorps members (not including AmeriCorps Senior Program members) completed service in New Mexico in 2021-22, across 110 service locations. An additional 280 AmeriCorps participants are serving in New Mexico as of January 2022.

Young Parents Cohort

NMDWS and other agencies have engaged with a cohort of young parents to undertsand what services and support these families need. In response to this gatherings/discussions, departments are working on improving non-standard office hours, improving accessibility of One-Stop Workforce Conenction Centers, and other specified needs to best support young parents.

Children, Youth and Families (CYFD):

Through a partnership with NMCAN, NMDWS participates in a multi agency team of youth-serving organizations that work together to provide services to young people impacted by the foster care and/or juvenile justice systems. The goal is to improve participants’ transition to adulthood by expanding communication across organizations, building relationships, and ensuring that programming involves youth voice. The team emphasizes trauma-informed practice and a commitment to authentic youth engagement. NMDWS contributes expertise in workforce development practices and shares tools and resources designed for young people.

Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD):

NMDWS engages with ECECD to create a registered apprenticeship program for Early Childhood Educators. The goal is to establish two pilot projects within the state, engaging providers in the process of building a career pathway for these educators.

Indian and Native American Programs (INA):

Funded to support employment and training activities for pueblo and tribal communities, NMDWS is working collaboratively with INAs to align workforce system development activities within their communities. Partnership activities include technical assistance and training; coordination of economic development activities; and specific sector strategies to ensure that tribal and pueblo members are included in employment and training services.

Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA):

New Mexico Arts held the State Finals of Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest on March 5, 2023. The event featured students from seven schools from across New Mexico including student performers, Pueblo Pojoaque Youth Hoop Dancers and Zaphica, student jazz combo from New Mexico School for the Arts. School participants from Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Montezuma, Rio Rancho, and Wagon Mound participated. More than 500 students participated in Poetry Out Loud during in-school competitions.

Rutendo Musharu, a senior at United World College-USA was named state champion at the event and she represented New Mexico at the Western Regionals portion of the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, held in Washington D.C., March 8-10, 2023. She advanced to the final round of regionals, placing her in the top 24 of students from 50 US states and 6 jurisdictions. Poetry Out Loud 2024 registration opens in September for New Mexico schools.

Economic Development Department (EDD):

The mission of the New Mexico Economic Development Department is to improve the lives of New Mexico families by increasing economic opportunities and providing a place for businesses to thrive. Since January 2019 when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham assumed office, the EDD has focused on increasing wages and benefits throughout the state by using the State of New Mexico financing and business assistance programs. Incentivizing jobs in the state with higher wages and full benefits is one way the EDD is able to improve and support the well-being of New Mexico’s children. EDD through the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Office has also supported other programs and organizations like accelerators and family focused organizations that help enable childcare training and policies that incorporate childhood wellbeing and care. EDD intends that individuals who are able to work have the opportunity to find quality work with good wages and benefits more easily as a result of the department’s efforts, thus providing a better quality of life for New Mexico’s children. Part of EDD’s mission statement reads “to improve the lives of New Mexico families,” and the administration continues to actively seek new ways to improve the well-being of children and their parents throughout the state.

Outdoor Recreation Division:

The Outdoor Recreation Division operates two grant programs benefitting youth in New Mexico. The Outdoor Recreation Trails+ grant invests in conservation-minded shovel-ready outdoor recreation infrastructure projects that are open to the public, increase access to outdoor opportunities, and demonstrate a clear economic benefit to the community through improved quality of life, better public health outcomes, and/or increased eco-tourism. To date, it has funded 90 projects for over $7 million, including park improvements, outdoor classrooms, and trail improvements across New Mexico to help increase access to outdoor recreation opportunities for all New Mexicans, including our youth. The Outdoor Equity Fund (OEF)  was created to ensure equitable access to the outdoors for all youth. The grant supports transformative outdoor experiences that foster stewardship and respect for New Mexico’s lands, waters, and cultural heritage. Since its creation in 2019, the program has granted $2 million to 130 organizations throughout the state. These local leaders, working in cultural, recreational, and environmental fields, are actively introducing over 37,000 young New Mexicans to the outdoors through day hikes, bike rides, camping trips, whitewater adventures, acequia irrigation, and more. For many of these youth, all 18 and younger, these transformational outdoor experiences are the first time they’ve participated in these kinds of outdoor recreation.

Job Training and Incentive Program (JTIP):

The Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) recently created enhanced incentives for businesses that employ foster youth to promote workforce training for this vulnerable population. Working with advisers from the Governor’s office, the JTIP board elected to include the employment of trainees who have graduated out of the New Mexico Foster Care System as one criteria making businesses eligible for an additional 5% reimbursement above the standard JTIP rate. It has been in JTIP Policy since July 1, 2020. This criterion incentivizes New Mexico businesses to hire and train former foster children to be successful in the workforce.  

boy and girl looking up smiling