As we head towards Thanksgiving and the holiday period, it continues to be a challenging period for many of us in the region. But especially at this time of year, there’s value in looking at the positive contributions individuals and organizations have made in helping the community over the last twelve months.
Northern New Mexico is fortunate to have an array of committed nonprofits confronting some of the community’s greatest challenges, such as educational inequality, food insecurity, and economic disparity.
Problems such as these can’t be solved with a single silver bullet, but require collaboration and an ongoing, multifaceted approach, and while a range of outstanding local organizations address these areas, they need all our help.
At Los Alamos National Laboratory, our employees are accustomed to taking on large, systemic problems—be it climate change, alternative energy, or quantum computing. We’re proud to help tackle systemic problems in our community, too, with the same resources we put toward scientific challenges—funding, time, and talent.
The Laboratory’s Community Partnerships Office works full time to foster nonprofit giving, economic development, and education in the seven-county area surrounding the Laboratory. Almost two-thirds of our 13,000 employees live outside of Los Alamos County in Mora, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe and Taos counties, so that’s where we focus much of our nonprofit support, too.
This year, Laboratory operator Triad National Security donated $2.5 million to fund education, economic and workforce development, and nonprofits as part of its Community Commitment Plan. Additionally, Laboratory employees give of their own salaries as part of an annual campaign, and last year donated $2.3 million to area nonprofits.
Recognizing that the pandemic left Northern New Mexico’s only food bank, The Food Depot, with unprecedented need, employees rose to the occasion again, donating more than $137,000, or 548,000 meals, to New Mexicans experiencing food insecurity, making the Laboratory the largest corporate donor to The Food Depot.
Supporting students and nonprofits isn’t only about money but its partner, time. In FY 2020, Lab employees rolled up their sleeves and provided more than 3,000 hours of hands-on community service to public schools and educational nonprofits, helping an estimated 6,420 students, teachers, and community members.
Through our new Community Technical Assistance grants, employees also lend their talent and Lab technologies to help nonprofits and community bodies solve problems. Recently, area community colleges have used Laboratory data analysis to analyze retention rates. Elsewhere, Los Alamos soil sensors are monitoring the health of regional rangeland and ground-penetrating radar pinpointed a new water source for an ancient acequia.
So as I look towards Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve been able to make in the last year in co-operation with our many partners in the region, and I’m committed to continuing the work to make Northern New Mexico an even better place to live.
- Kathy Keith is Director of the Laboratory's Community Partnerships Office