SANTA FE — A collective of Northern New Mexico foundations—including the Thornburg Foundation, Thoma Foundation and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation—provided nearly $1 million in grants to support The Golden Apple Scholars in New Mexico, a program that will help alleviate the state’s urgent teacher shortages.
The Scholars program creates a new teacher pipeline in New Mexico that recruits the earliest stage of aspiring teachers, high school seniors through college sophomores.
“Over the 30-year history of our Scholars program, we have helped 2,000 students become teachers. We are grateful to these generous foundations that deeply care about the teacher shortage crisis for their support in bringing our program to New Mexico,” Golden Apple President Alan Mather said.
The Scholars program provides a robust support network with paid professional development, classroom teaching experience, job placement support, and a participation stipend. Award-winning New Mexico teachers also will mentor scholars as they go through the program.
Across New Mexico, school districts are struggling with a multi-year teacher shortage crisis. A 2021 report from the New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center found over 1,000 vacant teaching positions, nearly double the number of vacancies in 2020.
“An overwhelming body of research demonstrates the critical influence of effective educators on student achievement, especially when it comes to supporting students of color and those from low-income families,” Thornburg Foundation Executive Director Allan Oliver said. “Efforts like the Scholars program are part of the long-term solution to both the current teacher shortage and successful educational outcomes for future New Mexico students.”
As a nonprofit, Golden Apple programs are sustained by investments by grants, private donors and government support.
“We are excited to be partnering with Golden Apple in collaboration with so many other local funders who see value in finding a long-term solution to New Mexico’s teacher shortage,” Thoma Foundation Director Holly Harrison said. “We especially appreciate Golden Apple’s attention to the challenge of teacher retention in non-metro areas of the state, and that their model provides the support that rural teachers need to succeed and thrive.”
“The LANL Foundation recently completed a research project on teacher retention that interviewed or surveyed over 740 teachers and 565 students from 32 Northern New Mexico districts,” LANL Foundation President/CEO Jenny Parks said. “From our research we know that teacher recruitment and retention is imperative for the future of excellent schools in Northern New Mexico. Our investment in Golden Apple will help address this problem by supporting workforce development in one of the most rewarding careers ever: teaching.”
New Mexico residents who are high school seniors, freshmen or sophomores in college, or enrolled in community college are eligible to apply now at www.goldenapple.org/scholars-new-mexico. Referrals of students from community members also are encouraged. Referrals may be made by visiting www.goldenapple.org/refer-a-scholar
Additional support for the program was made available by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the J.F. Maddox Foundation.