US-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership Holds Eighth Learning Community in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico, April 15, 2007 -- On April 18-20, 2007, the partners of the US-Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership (BPP -- will convene their eighth, bi-national learning conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The BPP improves quality of life for low income families and communities via the strengthening of border community foundations and promotion of philanthropy in the region. Since its launch in 2002, this unique bi-national partnership has generated over $15 million in support for border foundations and communities.

Co-hosted by the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, New Mexico Community Foundation and the initiative's Managing Partner, The Synergos Institute, the meeting is part of a series of conferences put on by the BPP to promote learning, collaboration and the sharing of best practices between the partners.

An Opportunity for Learning and Connecting

The conference will welcome approximately 100 civic and nonprofit leaders and experts from the world of philanthropy to Las Cruces. The theme of the conference -- Nearing a New Beginning: Border Community Foundations in Action Together -- provides an opportunity for foundations to plan for future collaboration around critical issues facing the region such as youth engagement, community health, increasing assets for low income families, and community development.

Ann Tartre, Director of the BPP says,

"In its five years, the BPP focused on the nuts and bolts of creating and growing community foundations. Now the focus is on giving them staying power, and enhancing the connections between these organizations so that they can reach across the border to address issues that affect residents on both sides of the line every day."

Twelve of the nation's largest and most prestigious private and corporate foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the McCune Charitable Trust, Annie E. Casey Foundation and JPMorgan Chase have committed to supporting the growth of community foundations because of the unique value these organizations bring to communities.

Community Foundations Making a Difference

Community foundations are locally driven and create permanent pools of money and talent to respond quickly and effectively to changing community needs. They are governed by a board reflective of the community and use income from invested donations to provide financial and technical support to local nonprofit organizations. Using their community knowledge and professional expertise, they help area donors fulfill their philanthropic goals by connecting them to the causes about which they feel most passionate.

Kristin Sandrick, a donor and board member of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico says,

"As a donor, there is no better vehicle for realizing one's personal philanthropic goals. The community foundation looks after the community while looking after the interests of individual donors as well. They offer donors flexibility as well as oversight of gifts, access to a wealth of community knowledge, the option of anonymity and the peace of mind that comes with professional management and best business practices."

The generosity of local donors in turn is a vital resource in support of a community foundation's most important function; supporting, through grants and other resources, organizations that work to improve quality of life in the community.

Stacey Cox is the Executive Director of the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico (CAA), which is a recipient of New Mexico Community Foundation grants. CAA runs a variety of programs that benefit low income families including the Tres Manos Program, a micro-enterprise development program targeting families needing to find opportunities for increasing family resources to improve their quality of life. She says,

"Without the support of partners like the New Mexico Community Foundation, the Tres Manos Project in which women from the Colonia of San Miguel learn to weave and sell textiles, would not be possible. The project helps women realize their dreams of independence. Economic and individual human transformations take place when the women weavers escape the isolation of poverty, and engage with other women in the weaving training program and microenterprise. Tres Manos empowers the women to become advocates for themselves and their families."

Together BPP partners, border community foundations, private and corporate foundations and the Synergos Institute, are creating strong and enduring institutions that will continue to serve the needs, and build the assets of border communities far into the future.