Carlsbad, New Mexico

Over the last decade, local government, non-profit organizations, charities, businesses and the local school district have committed to working together as a coalition of diverse stakeholders who are dedicated to youth advancement. The Carlsbad Municipal School District works in partnership with the City of Carlsbad to create a public school environment which meets the individual educational needs of all children and will provide each student the opportunity to develop intellectually emotionally, physically, and socially in a safe and orderly environment. The science and energy communities offer mentoring and employment to Carlsbad’s youth. With more public park area than any other New Mexico community, paired with a community that prioritizes youth in all aspects of planning and development, the City of Carlsbad is one of America’s 100 Best Communities for Young People.

The Superintendent's Student Advisory Council is comprised of 12 students, 8th grade to seniors, who are representative of Carlsbad’s geographic and racial diversity. Members are advisors and liaisons between the Superintendent and the students from their two middle schools and the high school. Students meet with the Superintendent of Schools and other District staff on a quarterly basis to share information, provide feedback on key issues affecting school performance and reform, the high school experience, preparation for college, career and citizenship and to broaden the understanding of school-related issues.

After a year-long campaign to raise educator and parent awareness of the graduation challenge in the Carlsbad public schools, the Superintendent of Schools took the message out to the larger community at an event called the Carlsbad Graduation Summit. The Summit was attended by 150 students, parents, educators and community leaders. Participants discussed how the community can work together to transcend the culture of low expectations and raise the aspirations of students, parents and community leaders concerning the importance of graduating from high school prepared for college and careers. Participants agreed to take bold steps to significantly increase the graduation rate in Carlsbad and prepare more of its youth for the demands of the community's workforce and civic life.

Through caring adults, it is the city’s goal that its children will discover what gives them purpose and the ability to identify career goals. The anticipated outcome is a rewarding career that will help them grow, develop and sustain the Carlsbad community. Carlsbad High School received a grant in 2009 for "High Schools that Work" which provides professional development for educators working in partnership with the community to prepare more students for college and 21st Century careers. Now in its first full year of completion, the grant project has received praise for advancing students to perform exemplary work. The project is building a strong guidance and advisement system that assists students in planning career-focused programs of study and preparing for a range of postsecondary options including a good job, the military, apprenticeships, career training, and attending community and technical colleges, colleges and universities.