The Community Partnerships Office (CPO) at Los Alamos National Laboratory hosted a well-attended online Community Conversation on July 13 that introduced nonprofit leaders to new ways of partnering with the Laboratory.
The more than 90 attendees represented organizations with a range of missions from education and the arts to economic development and behavioral health. Elected officials and tribal leaders also took part.
The morning began with an update from Laboratory Director Thom Mason on recent community-related activities from the Laboratory, highlighting the launch of the NM LEEP program to attract more innovators and start-ups, and giving some details on recent community giving, including the news that Lab operator Triad and LANL employees were The Food Depot’s largest corporate donor in 2020.
New ways the Laboratory can help
Mason also outlined two new opportunities for collaboration between regional organizations and LANL. Under the Laboratory’s Time & Talent program, employees who track their volunteer time with Northern New Mexico nonprofits make the nonprofits they support eligible to enter a draw for a $500 grant from LANL operator Triad.
“Laboratory employees have always served their communities by giving their time and talent to a range of nonprofits, and this program is a way to recognize that contribution and reward the organizations that are doing such important work in the region,” says Joanna Gillespie, philanthropic outreach specialist at the CPO.
In addition, a new Community Technical Assistance program makes nonprofits, tribal governments, and non-federal government entities in Northern New Mexico eligible to receive Laboratory assistance, leveraging LANL expertise and technology to solve short-term projects. Some of the CTA projects currently underway include projects with New Mexico Historic Sites to analyze historic artifacts using x-ray tomography, and with the Quivira Coalition to process and assess data for their Carbon Ranch Initiative.
“We have some unique capabilities at Los Alamos,” says Patrick Duran, economic development outreach specialist with the CPO. “The community technical assistance offers the chance for a range of nonprofit and government groups to access those capabilities free of charge to help them with particular challenges.”
Developing effective volunteer programs
The final part of the online event saw Rebecca Gomez, senior program coordinator at the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers, outline how nonprofits can best recruit and retain volunteers, and what makes a successful volunteer program. She discussed best practices for keeping volunteers engaged, and what nonprofits of all sizes can do to ensure they are positioned to make the most of their volunteers.