Two grants from Los Alamos National Security operator Triad National Security, LLC, will benefit students and teachers across Northern New Mexico.
Triad’s Community Commitment Program awarded $599,600 to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation and $200,000 to the Regional Development Corporation (RDC), both based in Española.
University of California President Janet Napolitano made the announcement this morning at a community event at Buffalo Thunder Resort. UC has been involved with the management of the lab since its founding more than 75 years ago and is the leading partner in the Triad consortium, along with Texas A&M University and Batalle Memorial Institute.
“Throughout our long affiliation with Los Alamos, the University of California and our partners have always recognized the importance of giving back to the communities surrounding the lab. After all, vibrant, thriving and resilient communities and workers are essential to the lab’s future work and success,” Napolitano said. “UC and the Triad team also recognize the education and workforce issues facing Northern New Mexico, from challenges in generating and retaining college graduates and other high skilled workers to shortages of teachers and health professionals. These challenges are not unique to New Mexico. And in this environment, institutions of education and their partners can and must play a critical role in supporting social mobility, fueling local and state economies and providing communities, students and workers with the skills they need to be successful.”
Napolitano cited three main objectives in supporting the grants: making sure that more students have access to high quality K-12 education and a college education, helping students to become lifelong learners so they can adapt to the changing job market and helping workers and adult learners upgrade their skills to advance their careers and find opportunities in new industries.
With the Triad funding, the LANL Foundation will jumpstart the creation of a Northern New Mexico STEM hub that will boost collaboration between local and statewide programs while increasing access to STEM opportunities for local K-12 students, support efforts to prepare and retain qualified teachers in classrooms throughout the region and help more students apply for and succeed in college through the longstanding LANL Scholars Program.
“The LANL Foundation has provided robust education and learning opportunities in Northern New Mexico for more than 20 years,” Napolitano said. “Their focus on expanding K-12 STEM education, building the leadership and capacity of local teachers, advocating for excellence in schools and supporting college access for New Mexico students remains a vital asset to this community.”
The Regional Development Corporation grant will support workforce development at six regional colleges and universities in Northern New Mexico: University of New Mexico Taos, University of New Mexico Los Alamos, Luna Community College, New Mexico Highlands University, Northern New Mexico College and Santa Fe Community College.
“Through professional development workshops, accelerated learning programs, paid internships and other services, the RDC is working to build a robust pipeline of local workers who are ready to take on high-demand jobs, including jobs at Los Alamos National Laboratory,” Napolitano said. “These efforts are essential for building economic resilience in communities and with families across the region.”
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director and Triad President Thom Mason spoke with the Valley Daily Post about the goals of the Community Commitment Plan.
“The biggest impact the laboratory has is through laboratory activities, the contracts we award, the people that we hire. And we do that using our federally funded budget that’s subject to appropriations,” Mason said. “But that can’t do everything. There are some things that we can’t do with federal funds, and these contributions are part of our Community Commitment Plan, as Triad, as the contractor that manages the lab. It’s a corporate commitment to do some of the things you can’t do with federal funds, and that includes things like the Scholarship Program that the LANL Foundation runs, and the RDC (Reginal Development Corporation) activities on workforce development. They’re tied to diversifying the regional economy, and in some cases may be supporting things that are kind of outside the areas where the lab is working, so we can’t use our federal funds for that. But as a corporate citizen in the community, Triad can use our corporate resources in a philanthropic mode to help round out the story.”
New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales also spoke at this morning’s event.
“On behalf of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and myself, we’re thankful and we’re grateful for the wonderful news and the announcements that are being made today,” Morales said. “The Regional Development Corporation and the LANL Foundation have long been champions for building stronger communities right here in Northern New Mexico. For that we are grateful. As key partners in educational development with LANL, I believe that today’s financial commitments to bolster these community outreach activities will yield real success, not only with student achievement, but, more importantly, with student engagement.”
California Lt. Gov. and UC Regent Eleni Kounalakis also addressed the community gathering.
“We are privileged to have worked hand-in-hand with our federal partners to help provide the scientific and administrative resources that brought an end to the Second World War, ushered in a new era of world history – both in the realms of science and political relations – and which continues to explore and develop the frontiers of our future on this planet, indeed, in the universe, from exploring Mars and the farthest reaches of outer space to analyzing the smallest cells in the human body.
“All of you here in Los Alamos are working to prevent conflict, to cure diseases and to protect this fragile environment upon which our very existence is dependent. Indeed, what the scientists, researchers, staff and administrators do every day at Los Alamos is helping to unlock the mysteries of the universe in order to insure in advance the future of the human race.”
Mason updated the audience on the lab’s current initiatives.
LANL is on track to hire more than 1,200 new employees by the end of the current fiscal year this month, the highest rate of hiring in at least 30 years. The increased hiring rate is a combination of growth in mission and the retirement of a large portion of the workforce. Thirty-five percent of the lab’s employees have been there less than four years.
The lab’s budget has grown to nearly $3 billion a year, which is necessitating not only additional staffing but investments in infrastructure and procurement. Mason projected more than $900 million dollars in procurements through the end of the fiscal year – again a peak over a 30-year period. Sixty-five percent of LANL’s subcontracts are awarded to small businesses, many of them local, “because that’s where we find the companies understand our needs and are responsive to those needs.”
Infrastructure investments are a top priority at the lab.
“The flip side of 75 years is that we have a lot of facilities that have served their country well and have earned their own retirement. We need to either refit or replace them as appropriate,” Mason said.
Subject to appropriations, the plan is to invest approximately $5 billion dollars over the next five years to modernize infrastructure, and $10 billion by 2030.
Mason thanked local leaders for their support in recruiting workers through their focus on housing, transportation and good schools.