“Early childhood education is so important because you are preparing future generations for higher education and giving students the tools they need, not just to get a job but the tools for life,” said Cabinet Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Barbara Damron. “Santa Fe Community College understands that.” Secretary Damron was the keynote speaker at a recent SFCC Foundation luncheon to celebrate the achievement of a $1.5 million endowment.
The SFCC Foundation established the fund to permanently support the director position of the Early Childhood Center of Excellence, guaranteeing the longevity needed to influence real change. ECCOE is the college’s statewide initiative to transform New Mexico’s workforce through quality early childhood education. Dr. Jennifer Duran Sallee currently serves as the director.
The new endowment is comprised of significant donations from several sources including Brindle Foundation, Thornburg Foundation and the New Mexico Higher Education Endowment Fund, which provided 2 to 1 matching funds. “For too long our state has struggled to address issues of early childhood education as well as workforce preparedness,” said SFCC President Randy W. Grissom. “With this endowed chair – rare for a community college – the ECCOE partner colleges, its supporters, the State and SFCC are demonstrating that we are committed to a long-term investment in our children to prepare them for a secure future. This will have far-reaching, secure ramifications throughout New Mexico.” In her remarks, Secretary Damron noted the importance and impact of early childhood education on the success of future college students. She also emphasized the crucial role community colleges play in educating the state’s early childhood teachers.
Last year, Governor Susana Martinez signed the Higher Education Endowment Act, which enables public college and universities in New Mexico to apply for matching funds to support programs that improve higher education and job training in New Mexico. “(ECCOE) is a perfect example of what we want to be doing in higher education,” said Damron. “This truly is a model for improving early childhood education in our state.”
The Early Childhood Center of Excellence is dedicated to enhancing all aspects of early childhood through a five-fold approach:
- Provide affordable high-quality education and professional development through multiple tracks and opportunities;
- Demonstrate and replicate highquality early childhood services through Kids Campus;
- Support new and existing early childhood businesses to function at the highest quality with sustainable business models;
- Advocate for policies and funding to support the sector and invest in children and early childhood development.
For more information on ECCOE, contact Dr. Duran-Sallee at 505-428-1321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.