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2014 in Review

We touched many lives in 2014 and we are forever grateful for all of the support from the community.  See the 2014 Annual Review

Peer to Peer Mentoring Started in Los Alamos Schools.


“Fun!” “Colorful!” “Interesting!” This is what Los Alamos High School students are saying about a new program premiering the 2014-2015 school year. The selecting of this program started its journey when United Way of Northern New Mexico’s Youth Team was interested in reinvesting the money they raised to help current and future students.  Through numerous meetings and conversations with people in the community United Way was directed to The Boomerang Project by Dr. Marvel Harrison.    This lead to the convening of organizations interested in providing peer to peer support services for our students. The Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, LAPS Foundation, YMCA Teen Center, LAHS, LAMS, and United Way of Northern New Mexico came together to begin implementation of Link Crews and WEB (Where Everybody Belongs)  Crews in Los Alamos  High School and Middle School. At the high school level, this peer to peer mentorship program partners incoming freshmen with two upper classman to not only welcome them to the school, but to help them succeed through their tenure at LAHS.  At the middle school, incoming seventh graders will be welcomed and mentored by eight graders.  The training these crews receive will be invaluable as they grow up to be adults. “I’m incredibly excited for our incoming freshman.” said Carter Payne, Assistant Principle at Los Alamos High School. “I maybe even more excited for the leadership experience the students are getting and their chance to leave a lasting culture at our school.”

In May of 2014, Robyn Collom (LAHS), Bernadette Lauritzen (LAMS), and Jonathan Lathrop (LAHS), attended a training to lay the foundation of the program in Los Alamos.  “The best professional development training I’ve ever attended.” says Jonathan Lathrop, who has taught for 17 years “I am absolutely enthused and so confident that this will enhance the positive culture at LAHS.”

A variety of students were approached about being the initial Link Crews and WEB Crews leaders.  60 students from the high school and 47 students from the middle school signed up within a couple of weeks of learning about the program.  The students were given a glimpse of what they will be a part of when they had their initial meetings the last week of school.  “Before the meeting started, some students were quiet, stern, and keeping to themselves.” said Jeremy Varela, from United Way “By the end of the meeting they were all smiling and giggling with the friends they just made.”  In the Fall of 2014, incoming freshmen and 7th graders were treated to an orientation unlike any ever seen in Los Alamos. Varela continues, “What better way to kick off a new school year than making new friends?”

“The program aligns with the 40 Developmental Assets and that is one of the reasons it will be successful.” said Bernadette Lauritzen, LAMS Prevention Specialist “Students helping students succeed has the ability to change the culture in schools.”

The YMCA Teen Center has offered the space given the program the ability to do activities and meetings year-round.

“Over the past 11 years of teaching, this program was life changing.” says Robyn Collom, “I am thrilled to use the tools I learned, share the enthusiasm and energy this program has sparked in me.  It is exciting to build on the positive momentum the high school is already on.”

Visit www.BoomerangProject.com  for more information about the program. Contact United Way of Northern New Mexico if you have questions specific to the program in Los Alamos  505.662.0800

How did this program come about?

In 2012 and 2013, Los Alamos had a string of unfortunate events involving teen suicide and attempted suicides.  A resiliency study said, in 2013, Los Alamos was over the state average of students who hurt themselves.  The United Way Youth Team decided to do something about it.  In 2014, LinkCrew, a peer to peer mentoring program kicked off the school year to help provide teens another outlet to talk with someone who is within their peer group.

United Way and YES Corp Come Together to Install Learning Trail.

10317801_745242602165482_476500349997031593_oLearning happens everywhere a child goes, but parents, grandparents and caregivers may not always know how to support that learning. That won’t be the case at Urban Park, right here in Los Alamos! When Mom and Dad, Aunt Amy and Grandpa take their favorite young child to Urban Park now, they’ll be able to play fun games together that will help the child come to school ready to succeed. That’s because UWNNM, Los Alamos County, Metzger’s Do It Best and the YMCA YES Corp, along with some community volunteers will came together to create an outdoor interactive early learning Trail at Urban Park to help parents, grandparents and caregivers turn excursions into fun learning moments. The Born Learning Trail is a series of learning activities that any adult can play with young children. It is sponsored by UWNNM Community Action Fund Donors, Los Alamos County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division and Metzger’s Do It Best.

Based on the latest early childhood research and approved by national early learning experts through United Way of America, the Born Learning Trail is designed to help adults interact with children to boost language and literacy development and to help caregivers understand how to best support early learning in outdoor everyday moments. There are 10 signs on the Born Learning Trail, each including activities such as “Look, Learn and Laugh” and “Hop, Toss, Shake and Wiggle” Watch! Stop! Learn! Play! encourages the caregiver to follow the child’s lead, while building the child’s curiosity and confidence.

Volunteer’s include United Way of Northern New Mexico Staff, Board, and Youth Team along with volunteers from the Los Alamos Family YMCA YES Corps

Classes from Little Forest Playschool and kids from Family Strengths Network are the initial testers of the trail.  We hope that many folks in our community can come out and enjoy it for years to

 STEM to Read Program Started in Northern New Mexico Libraries

STEM to Read, Storytime.Embudo Library

Activity backpacks, books, and family learning immerses children in an environment that help them to start looking at the world as Scientist, Engineers, and Mathematicians do.  This program is a pilot program that is starting at four nonprofit libraries in Northern New Mexico.  The United Way of NNM contributions will be leveraged with funding from the New Mexico State Library and the New Mexico Library Foundation, institutions that have been at the center of promoting and supporting the STEM to Read program in a growing number of libraries across the state.  The STEM to Read program partners with organizations such as PEEC and Explora to provide content for children.


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