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New Mexico’s TVI and the Center for Working Families Provide Services and Supports to Help Students Succeed

Renee Carlson speaks at her GED graduation ceremony.

When Renee Carlson encourages students at the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI) in New Mexico to improve their chances for success by using the services at the Center for Working Families, her advice carries special weight. Renee has made remarkable progress in her life over the last two years, and she credits TVI and the Center for Working Families (CWF) for helping her stay focused and on track.

A recovering alcoholic and drug addict, and mother of two teenagers, Renee began work on a GED – the equivalent of a high school degree – in 2003, while she was in jail. After her release, she finished her GED at TVI and began to work with the achievement coach at the Center for Working Families there, setting goals for her academic and financial future.

Centers for Working Families are a new approach pioneered by the Casey Foundation to help low-income working families. CWFs bring together multiple services in a convenient location, “bundling” a full range of essential supports to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and move ahead. CWFs make it easier for families to tap into all of the services and supports for which they qualify, filling in the gaps and helping them weather unexpected setbacks.

Renee has served as a peer mentor at TVI for over a year, helping other students while she pursues a two-year liberal arts degree. She plans to eventually transfer to the University of New Mexico to complete her education and become a licensed alcohol and drug addiction counselor. “CWF has made a huge difference,” says Renee. “It’s easy to feel lost and frustrated as a student. Not to have to run from place to place to find what you need is so helpful. My achievement coach, Ann Lyn Hall, is there to help and she really cares. I’ve taken several of their workshops and will be taking a 10-week financial literacy course too. At CWF we evaluate our financial situation, our academic plans, and even our level of civic engagement. Tracking my progress and setting goals has boosted my self esteem and helped me utilize what I’ve learned. I’ve moved from using check cashers to having a bank account.”

Continue: CWF: A Natural Outgrowth of TVI’s Innovative Approach >>