Investing in Communities

NOTICE: New Mexico's Race To the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant ended in December 2017 - however much of the work is continuing as part of our sustainability plan

For more information, click here to read the Investing in Communities Factsheet.


A taskforce from the New Mexico Department of Health, Public Education Department, and Children Youth and Families Department used epidemiological data to compare levels of risk and resiliency across New Mexico’s communities and rank these geographical areas by levels of risk. Those with the highest aggregated need were identified as Investment Zones.

Data was gathered and analyzed from all New Mexico’s counties and school districts. The county and school district data allowed a broad look at indicators associated with health, family environment, poverty levels, child development, and factors that support literacy and school readiness. Also included are indicators related to school success, including graduation rates, resource investment at the school district level, and support for pregnant and teen parents.

Data gathered can be categorized into four broad areas:

  • Birth factors
  • Family environment factors
  • Education factors
  • Economic factors

Our goal is that these communities “establish community-specific capacity building, infrastructure development and comprehensive integrated early childhood care, health and education services in ways that can be used as models by other communities across the state” (State of New Mexico Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Application For Phase 2 Funding, 2012).

The Early Childhood Investment Zones touch every region of New Mexico, and range from frontier to urban population centers covering 11 counties and 35 school districts.

Investment Zone Work

In order for families in these investment zone communities to have greater access to high quality early learning programs, we have:

  • Developed a contract with University of New Mexico – Family Development Program to develop sustainable early childhood coalitions with cross-sector membership.
  • Designed early childhood community-based leadership development, using the Family Development Program’s innovative Early Childhood Leadership Tool Kit as a framework for individual, team and community collaborative leadership practice.
  • Given a weighted score to proposals submitted by agencies from investment zone communities or who are willing to provide early learning services in investment zone communities
  • Selected programs from Early Childhood Investment Zones to receive enhanced support through training and consultation (Child Care, PreK, Home Visiting)
  • Held a variety of meetings, trainings and capacity development opportunities in communities within the Investment Zones.

Investment Zone Impact

As a result of the Race To the Top – Early Learning Challenge parents in rural communities will have greater access to quality early learning programs for their young children.