Historic Win for Early Care and Education in New Mexico

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After over a decade of organizing and advocacy, a breakthrough victory for young children and families received approval from New Mexico voters with overwhelming support in a ballot initiative on November 8, 2022. The constitutional amendment will give young children the right to early care and education and secure funding from the state’s Land Grant Fund to support programming. This will provide approximately $150 million more for early childhood in the next year alone.

It’s one more way in which New Mexico is leading the nation when it comes to putting kids and families first.  In July 2020, New Mexico celebrated the official launch of the first state agency focused on services from birth to age five: the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD). The state also created the first cabinet post focused on early childhood education and care, filled by Elizabeth Groginsky,   who is rooting the department’s priorities in racial equity and community engagement, while also creating an aligned system of workforce development and pay parity.

This new child care funding is likely to extend that important initiative, among other reforms. Congratulations to all those who worked so hard on this effort, especially OLÉ, a grassroots organizing grantee partner of the Raising Child Care Fund since 2019.

In a recent ECFC webinar featuring examples of state ballot initiatives, Matthew Henderson, Executive Director of the OLÉ Education Fund shared the enormous time and resources that went into the campaign.  “We knocked on half a million doors in an election that drew 700,000 voters.” A factor he cites as contributing to their win – a lot of collaboration among grassroots movement organizations which allowed them to draw on colleagues that have effectively coordinated on election work, to drive a robust campaign, and navigate the digital and social media realm.

Philanthropic support played a key role, including vital funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help launch their multi-racial, multi-ethnic, broad-base, non-partisan movement.   The Raising Child Care Fund, which pools money from 14 nationally focused funders — including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Bezos Family Foundation, the Irving Harris Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others — combined with dollars from close to 20 state and local funders also provided support.

Raising Child Care Fund manager, Rachel Schumacher notes that: The way funders deserve credit is that we centered the voices of those most impacted by the challenges of the child care system and all the ways it doesn’t work, and invested in groups on the ground that are closest to those folks,” she said. “And for the amount we’ve put in, think about the incredible return — $150 million a year for child care. Philanthropy can’t pay for that, but if we help groups on the ground that build the power to make those kinds of changes, we have a more lasting impact than if we just do direct expenditures for child care.”

In a recent Inside Philanthropy article, Rachel Schumacher, Raising Child Care Fund manager, notes that “The way funders deserve credit is that we centered the voices of those most impacted by the challenges of the child care system and all the ways it doesn’t work, and invested in groups on the ground that are closest to those folks”.  She also points out that for the amount of money funders put in, there was an incredible return – $150 million a year for child care. “Philanthropy can’t pay for that, but if we help groups on the ground that build the power to make those kinds of changes, we have a more lasting impact than if we just do direct expenditures for child care.”   Read the full Inside Philanthropy feature: Backed by a Broad Swath of Patient Funders, Early Ed Advocates Scored a Major Win in New Mexico.

Photo credit: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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