Male student interviewing with a female interviewer

SFPS and the city of Santa Fe have forged an innovative work-based learning partnership, unique in the state, that will pay student interns $14 an hour for the next two years with $797,600 in American Rescue Plan act funds for youth workforce development. The city is the only one in New Mexico to utilize these funds in partnership with public schools.

"Our Work-Based Learning Program continues to soar. We greatly appreciate the city's partnership with the district and its investment in our youths. This program is meeting employability needs across many sectors, which is a benefit to employers and students. It's a prime example of what can be accomplished when everyone is at the table for the betterment of all," said Superintendent Hilario "Larry" Chavez.

The $797,600 contract was fully approved by the city of Santa Fe's governing body on January 11th. Rich Brown, director of the city's Office of Economic Development Department, and Jose Villarreal (pictured above), SFPS' work-based learning coordinator, partnered on presenting the contract to the city's Quality of Life Committee and Economic Development Advisory Committee on December 7th and 14th.

"Director Brown encouraged city councilors to envision this partnership as the floor rather than the ceiling. In other words, the city desires to sustain this initiative by finding ways to build funding into their budget for the long-term future," said Villarreal. He said that as SFPS' Work-Based Learning Program continues to grow, the city has agreed to amend the contract, providing more funding as SFPS' intern capacity increases.

Brown and Julie Sanchez, director of the city's Youth and Family Services, have worked with SFPS leadership, including Superintendent Chavez, Deputy Superintendent Vanessa Romero, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Michael Hagele, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Peter McWain, Director of College and Career Readiness Mary Massey and Villarreal, over the past nine months to execute the partnership and contract.

“The SFPS work-based learning program is a critical link from classroom knowledge into real world application; not only do students gain new skills but they are paid for the invaluable time it takes to practice and apply those new skills in a professional setting. Work-based learning programs give young adults the opportunity to dream and build next steps for future career planning.  

“Superintendent Chavez and his team have been incredible partners in this work, and I look forward to partnering on other initiatives that will benefit the youth and families of our city," Sanchez said.

Brown said, “Santa Fe has a variety of families from multi-generational to multi-cultural and LGBT, and they all would like to ensure young people have opportunities to prosper and make a meaningful career path."