Open Letter to New Mexico Elected Leaders
Principles & Commitments For Investing American Rescue Plan and Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act funds
December 1, 2021
We are writing to express our excitement about how the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of New Mexico. This historic federal funding provides the opportunity to reimagine the education, economic, and health systems that will lift New Mexico to its full potential. We have the opportunity to reimagine, revitalize and build the New Mexico we all dream about. This presents extraordinary opportunities for equity and intentional sustainability for people and systems that have been most devastated by the pandemic and have long endured inequities/disparities.
As leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, we are writing to offer our assistance and partnership as you embark on implementing these critical resources to ensure that those in most need can recover. We are privileged and fortunate to work with many nonprofit and community leaders who work tirelessly and directly with families and children throughout New Mexico. Their stories tell of their tremendous hardships, struggles, and severe deficits in our state. As we work to respond to communities during this unprecedented time, we stand respectfully ready to work with local, regional, Tribal, and state leaders.
It is our hope that the following principles and commitments will serve as a guide for the many organizations, agencies, and leaders instrumental in the distribution of billions of federal dollars and help promote effective public-private partnerships. We have developed these guiding principles out of strong love for our people, cultures, communities, and children. If we come together as one, the opportunity before us will be realized in a strong future for ALL.
Principles and Commitments.
1. Put Children and Families First. Be intentional about investing in children and families, regardless of the configuration of those families. Create systems, infrastructure, processes, and institutions that build communities centered on children and families.
2. Ensure Equity and Inclusion. Address the disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Focus on Native, immigrant, rural, and low-income communities that are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Leverage this opportunity to address historical inequities and strengthen systems to reimagine and uphold transformative change, and long-term investments in education, health, and economy.
3. Tribal Sovereignty and Self-Determination. This federal funding opportunity provides the largest single infusion of federal funding into Indian Country in the history of the United States. At the same time, the State of New Mexico has an obligation to provide resources to its Native American citizens, both on and off tribal lands. Ensure full, prior, and informed collaboration with and consent by Tribal Nations that honors the sovereignty and self-determination of the 23 Native Nations within the State of New Mexico. This funding opportunity presents an unprecedented opportunity for Tribal Nations to use their rights of sovereignty and self-government to strengthen their communities.
4. Build Systemic Change. The pandemic revealed deep systemic inequities – ranging from access to broadband to health inequities to food insecurity. Build equitable policies and systems that address root causes and re-design systems to dismantle centuries of racial, ethnic, gender, and economic inequities and other barriers long experienced by many New Mexicans.
5. Provide Transparency, Accessibility, and Accountability. Transparency helps with coordination and collaboration and ultimately leads to greater impact. Ensure investments and processes are open and transparent. Ensure processes are streamlined and barriers removed for individuals, nonprofits, businesses, schools, tribes, and local agencies. Develop systems that provide accountability on how funds are spent.
6. Be Community Driven. Develop a process to engage and listen to diverse communities throughout the state. Center community priorities (vs leadership’s priorities), emphasizing local decision-making.
7. Collaborate and Coordinate. Effective coordination will ensure that funds are leveraged for the utmost short- and long-term effect and flow to Tribal Nations, the state, counties, cities, and school districts. Coordinate within your circle of influence AND outside your circle of influence. Reach out to potential partners for greater impact, particularly nonprofit organizations in your community.
8. Think Bold and Think Big. It is time to invest in real change. This is an opportunity to reimagine our neighborhoods, cities, counties, and state. Be creative and intentional to use funds for robust impact – not business as usual. Bring together partners to ensure funds are invested in substantive change.
We are grateful for your service to our community and our state. We recognize that this unprecedented funding represents a public trust and a remarkable opportunity to transform our state to improve the lives of every New Mexican. We welcome any opportunity to discuss how to put these principles into practice and to serve as a supportive partner to government leaders dedicated to these principles.
Albuquerque Community Foundation, Randy Royster, President and CEO
Anchorum St. Vincent, Jerry Jones, Interim President and CEO
Brindle Foundation, Mary Nell Wegner, Executive Director
Chamiza Foundation, Amanda J. Montoya, Executive Director
Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, Terra Winter, President and CEO
Con Alma Health Foundation, Denise Herrera, Executive Director
First Nations Development Institute
Grant County Community Foundation, Bernadette Smyth, Executive Director
Laguna Community Foundation, Joannie Romero, Executive Director
LANL Foundation, Jenny Parks, President and CEO
McCune Charitable Foundation, Carla Romero, Executive Director
NB3 Foundation, Jon Driskell, President and CEO
New Mexico Foundation, JoAnn Melchor, President and CEO
Santa Fe Community Foundation, Christopher Goett, President and CEO
Thornburg Foundation, Allan Oliver, Executive Director
W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Chamiza Pacheco de Alas, Director of New Mexico Programs
Groundworks New Mexico (formerly New Mexico Association of Grantmakers), Frank R. Lopez, Executive Director
For more information, please contact:
Frank Rene Lopez