Empowering Education Friendly Workplaces: Family Friendly New Mexico Adds a Special Designation in partnership with United Way of North Central New Mexico

Angelica ArchuletaBlog

By Zoe Otero-Martinez/Family Friendly New Mexico & Martha Hughes/United Way of North Central New Mexico

As was announced at this year’s Annual Awards Luncheon in April, Family Friendly New Mexico’s partnership with United Way of North Central New Mexico (UWNCNM) further expands and enriches opportunities for education friendly workplaces. Together, we firmly believe that employers can play a crucial role in unlocking their employees’ potential through various means like upskilling, professional development, literacy programs and certificate and degree attainment.

In New Mexico, where only 36.7% of working-age adults hold an associate degree or higher, lies immense potential for economic mobility, skills enhancement, and increased productivity. Recognizing this, we have long embraced policies supporting “employer subsidized training & educational assistance.” In fact, Family Friendly New Mexico has acknowledged 237 companies in our state that already provide such support.

UWNCNM focuses on increasing family stability and educational attainment, which are distinctly interconnected. When families are stable, they are better able to achieve their educational goals. Likewise, educational attainment can foster stability in families and lead to better outcomes in employment, health, and community engagement. Recognizing the necessity of supporting adults in educational advancement and that, as reported by NMDWS in 2022, participation in the labor force increases with the level of educational attainment, employers become a key ally. 

In the summer of 2021, UWNCNM launched the Education-Friendly Workplace Initiative, aimed at supporting and encouraging local businesses to evaluate and enhance their support for employee educational pursuits. A cross-sectoral group of local business leaders, higher education career specialists, city/state workforce development specialists, and non-profit professionals met regularly to research best practices, policies, and resources for education-friendly workplaces. Profound thanks to Amplify Consulting, Bridging the Talent GapCABQ, CNM, Garza Enterprises, M’Tucci’s, NMDWS, & UNM for deep and continued partnership! 

As the group drafted an education-friendly rubric and toolkit, they found that supporting employees in accessing upskilling, literacy, and post-secondary certificates and degrees can lead to internal promotion, increased loyalty, reduced attrition, and skill sets better fit to employer needs. And with tailorable, low/no-cost options and local partnerships, the educational supports and benefits can be easy to implement, scale, and generate a return on investment. While compiling these suggested policies, benefits, and practices, they discovered significant overlaps with established Family Friendly NM policies.  It was acknowledged that in order to have an education friendly workplace, employers also needed to have a comprehensive set of family friendly workplace policies including paid leave, work schedules, good wages, pay equity and diversity and inclusion, among others.  This realization led them to pursue a partnership with us, resulting in the creation of the new Education Support Special Designation that complements Family Friendly New Mexico’s comprehensive business award model.

The new designation, along with an accompanying toolkit, will be available starting on October 1st with the opening of the 2024 Family Friendly Business Award® application.

Sign up for the FFNM email list to receive important correspondence and an invite to apply in October!  


We are excited to provide employers with additional resources, information, and practical examples on United Way of North Central New Mexico ‘s website later this year, further empowering them to foster education friendly environments within their organizations. These tools and information will be easy to digest and tailor to workplace budget and needs. They will showcase examples of wraparound support such as flexible scheduling, mentorship, local higher ed partnerships, in-house training, the NM Opportunity Scholarship, goals and advancement tied to educational attainment, and more – all intended to help employers understand what it means to be education-friendly and how they can start small to create significant ROI. 

Join us as we embark on this transformative journey, where employers and employees thrive together, driving economic advancement and creating a brighter future for our community. Together, let’s build education-friendly workplaces that empower individuals and uplift families!

Interested in learning more about the case for supporting employee educational pursuits? Check out these recent reports and articles:

Empowering Education Friendly Workplaces

Blog co-written by: Martha Hughes, Adults in Education Manager, United Way of North Central New Mexico

Martha Hughes is the Adults in Education Manager with Rising Together, the impact initiative at United Way of North Central New Mexico. She is dedicated to working collectively in her home state with community partners to ensure equitable access to college and career pathways for all adults in the region. She facilitates several collaborative initiatives that support this mission, including the Higher Education Access and Success ECHO, the Education-Friendly Workplace Initiative, and Strategic Barrier Removal Working Groups. She received a bachelor’s degree in English & German from Coe College, served as a Fulbright ETA in Germany, and received a master’s degree in Intercultural Education, Migration, & Multilingualism from the Karlsruhe University of Education.