New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Launches Initiative to Help with COVID-Related School Staffing Shortages

Michelle Lujan Grisham could be headed back to school…

Facing a dire staffing shortage in schools, the 62-year-old governor of New Mexico has launched an initiative asking state workers and National Guard members to become licensed volunteer substitute K-12 teachers and child care workers.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham has completed the registration to become licensed as a substitute teacher, her press secretary Nora Sackett confirmed to CNN.

The move is an effort to help fill staffing gaps and stave off closures across school districts and child care centers because of the rise in Omicron cases.

Volunteers will have to clear a mandatory background check, complete an online substitute teaching training, and then undergo a typical onboarding process done by the school where they’re placed. The new program speeds up approval of the licensing process to two days. Civil servants and Guard members who are currently involved in critical health care roles or administering vaccines are asked not to participate.

Lujan Grisham, who has no prior experience in education, expects to be placed in an elementary school this week, she told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Newsroom this weekend.

She said her state was left with no choice but to ask for additional help from the public to get more substitute teachers in New Mexico’s schools.

“There aren’t any other options,” the governor said.

Should a New Mexico school district accept her offer to serve as a substitute, Lujan Grisham says she will donate her services and will not accept payment.

“We’ll have additional information about her placement this upcoming week,” Sackett told CNN. “This work will not require the Lt. Gov. to act as governor.”

The governor is among the 100 — 50 National Guard members and 50 state employees — who have so far signed up for the initiative, according to Lujan Grisham.

“The whole goal is certainly not to interrupt the qualified experienced work that is required in our public schools,” Lujan Grisham said on CNN, adding that the aim of the initiative is to “keep schools open and to support educators, parents, and students through the worst of Omicron.”

Since winter break, roughly 60 school districts and charter schools in New Mexico were forced to switch to remote-learning due to staff members testing positive for COVID-19 or having to isolate or quarantine under CDC recommendations, according to the governor’s office.

Also due to staffing shortages, 75 child care centers have partially or completely closed since the start of the year, according to the governor’s office.

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez, whose school district has gone remote, said Wednesday that the initiative will be “instrumental” in helping continue or return to in-person learning and reduce “the stress on our remaining staff who have taken on additional duties.”

“This initiative will help create a stable school environment, as well as help parents who are having to juggle childcare and jobs,” MaryBeth Weeks, the head of New Mexico Parent Teacher Association, said in a statement.

New Mexico is not the only state facing teacher shortages and implementing extraordinary measures to keep classrooms running, such as asking parents or alumni to become substitute teachers or dispatching office administrators.

Sofia Carson to Finance the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation’s Next Prodigy Scholarship

Sofia Carson is committed to helping educate the music world’s next prodigy

The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation has announced that the 28-year-old Colombian American actress/singer will finance the next four-year Prodigy Scholarship, which holds a maximum value of $200,000.

Sofia CarsonIt will fully fund a student’s bachelor’s degree in music at Berklee School of Music starting in the fall 2022.

“It is such a privilege to witness the life-changing mission of this foundation through the power of music and education. To have the Sofia Carson Scholarship and to partner with my LGCF family on this is one of the greatest honors of my life,” Carson, a global ambassador for the foundation since 2019, tells Billboard. “To be able to use my voice and my platform in this way is the most important thing I can do. I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of this.”

In addition to the Sofia Carson Scholarship, there will be 43 other scholarships: three Gifted Tuition scholarships and and 40 Tuition Assistance scholarships for music students admitted to universities of their choice.

“As we enter our seventh year of providing scholarships and transformational experiential programming, we know that access — and educational equity — is pivotal in supporting future Latin music creators and preserving our cultural heritage for generations to come,” said Tanya Ramos-Puig, president, Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation. “It is truly a humbling reality made possible, year after year, thanks to the gracious support of our partners.”

The scholarship is awarded to an outstanding music student between the ages of 17-25 who demonstrates a passion for Latin music, but faces severe financial hardships.

The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation says it “remains committed to help support closing the gender gap in the music industry.” In the 2020-21 season, the four most valuable scholarships were awarded to women, which represents 64% ($531,000) of the total scholarship amount awarded.

“That’s also the hope we have with this scholarship — that it will inspire young women around the world who have dreams of pursuing a career in music to actually fearlessly pursue to those dreams,” adds Carson.

In previous years, the Prodigy Scholarship has been co-sponsored by Latin stars including Enrique Iglesias (2015), Juan Luis Guerra (2016), Miguel Bosé (2017), Carlos Vives (2018), Emilio and Gloria Estefan (2019), Julio Iglesias (2020) and Juanes (2021).

The scholarship application is now live here.

The deadline to apply is April 10 at 11:59 pm ET.

Nacho González Nappa Composes & Produces New Song “Mi Escuela, Mi Hogar” in Partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund

Nacho González Nappa is celebrating school and home in a special way…

The Uruguayan award-winning film and video game composer has joined forces with the United Nations Children’s Fund for the release of a new song called “Mi Escuela, Mi Hogar” as part of Exile Content Studio’s edutainment show Club Mundo Kids.

Nacho González NappaComposed and produced by González Nappa, the optimistic and hopeful track was created at a time when many classrooms in Latin America and the Caribbean remain closed.

The less-than-two-minute song, with a rhythmic folk melody, has lyrics about missing your teacher and wanting to play with your friends at recess, but also about patience, remaining positive and enjoying virtual education.

“Music helps us heal and get through difficult times,” Nacho said in a statement. “Latin America and the Caribbean is a resilient region, and we hope that this song will shed some light to overcome this dramatic situation.”

According to UNICEF statistics, 71 million children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean are still affected by school closures due to the global pandemic. In at least five countries where only a small number of schools have reopened, less than 25 percent of students have resumed face-to-face learning.

“Imagining schools once again as a magical and safe haven for children to learn and explore was where we drew our inspiration for the song ‘Mi Escuela, Mi Hogar,’” Alejandro Uribe, CEO of Exile Content Studio, added. “With the help and support of UNICEF, we hope that Club Mundo Kids will inspire all children with its optimistic message that there will be better days ahead in the near future.”

Released for World Children’s Day, Club Mundo Kids and UNICEF also teamed up with YouTube Kids to showcase the song and other musical content until December 2

UNICEF continues working with education authorities to ensure all children return to schools while also supporting their psychosocial well-being.

“In many countries across the region, the school year ends in December. Children are now facing almost two years of lost time with teachers and classmates, jeopardizing their right to learn. While schools stay closed, the future of the region’s children, especially the most vulnerable, is at stake,” said Italo Dutra, UNICEF’s Regional Education Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Tessa Thompson to Help Present $1 Million in Scholarships at The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual Women in Entertainment Gala

Tessa Thompson is helping the next generation of women in entertainment

The 38-year-old part-Panamanian and part-Mexican American actress will appear alongside Jennifer Garner at The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment gala to shine a spotlight on THR’s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program.

Tessa Thompson,Garner and Thompson will present high school students with nearly $1 million in university scholarships to graduates of the mentorship program, which pairs the best and brightest high school girls from underserved communities in the Los Angeles area with top-level female executives, lawyers and agents.

The mentorship program is a joint venture between THR and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles.

Past mentors have included Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, Imax Entertainment president Megan Colligan, Netflix vp content Bela Bajaria and Disney TV StudiosABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden.

More than 200 girls and 200 mentors have taken part in the program, with the mentees going on to universities including Harvard, UC Berkeley and UCLA, supported by $10 million in scholarships raised by THR.

The gala coincides with the release of THR’s annual Women in Entertainment issue (on newsstands December 8), which highlights the Power 100, the leading female executives in entertainment.

Celia Cruz Foundation Donates the Late Singer’s Celia Cruz Music Score Collection to Florida International University

They’re celebrating Celia Cruz’s azucar at Florida International University.

The Miami-based university has been gifted the Celia Cruz Music Score Collection, which includes 230 long- and short-form musical scores belonging to the iconic Cuban singer.

Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz Entertainment, who manages the late singer’s materials and intellectual property, donated the collection to the university on behalf of the Celia Cruz Foundation.

The collection will be part of the Díaz Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection at the FIU Libraries, CasaCuba — the university’s center for the celebration of Cuban culture and study of Cuban affairs — and the FIU School of Music will use the collection for educational purposes.

“Celia’s most fervent wish was to ensure her legacy lives on for generations,” said Omer Pardillo Cid, executor of the Celia Cruz Estate. “Donating her original musical scores will provide future students with a unique way to study her repertoire — the way she would have done it.”

Robert Trujillo & His Metallica Band Mates Partner with Carhartt to Raise $377,000 for Workforce Education

Robert Trujillo is ready to help educate and train essential workers…

The 56-year-old half-Mexican American musician and songwriter and his Metallica band mates are celebrating raising more than $377,000 over the Labor Day weekend through the group’s All Within My Hands Foundation.

Robert Trujillo

The heavy metal icons teamed up with workwear brand Carhartt on the initiative, with the clothing brand donating all of their sales proceeds on Monday to the band’s Metallica Scholars initiative, which provides opportunities to people interested in pursuing essential workforce jobs.

“Thank you, Carhartt! Thank you, shoppers! Thank you, AWMH supporters! Labor Day was an exciting day for All Within My Hands,” AWMH tweeted on Tuesday night (Sept. 7). “You helped raise $377,450! We are excited to turn this donation into more training, more tools, and more certifications by expanding our program to reach even more people interested in the skilled trades across the US.”

“Carhartt and All Within My Hands are bound by our shared passion for supporting workforce education,” said AWMH executive director Dr. Edward Frank in a statement. “As two organizations dedicated to providing opportunity, we hope to expand the Metallica Scholars program to include even more schools this year and to get even more students trained for a career in the skilled trades.”

The campaign tapped into a bit of Metallica history, reaching back almost four decades to the legendary classified ad drummer Lars Ulrich placed in a Los Angeles newspaper that teamed him with singer James Hetfield. The want ad promoting the Labor Day event aimed to recruit a new generation to take on skilled trades as the nation faces a labor shortage, especially in the live events space, according to AWMH.

“A few lucky job seekers who answered the ad attended the stage-building workshop hosted by our friends at Upstaging, who have worked with Metallica for decades and put on shows for some of the biggest names in the music and entertainment business,” the band’s charitable foundation said.

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona Helps CAA Launch K-12 Mentoring Program

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona is helping get U.S. students ready (set) for the new school year…

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) hosted an event this week at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles to launch the Ready Set mentoring program, with support from the 46-year-old Puerto Rican U.S. Secretary of Education, educator and member of the U.S. Cabinet.

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona

Ready Set, which highlights the nationwide need for tutors, is an online recruitment campaign that addresses the loss of learning and relational mentors among K-12 public school students in the U.S., particularly those who live in historically marginalized communities.

The campaign will run through September 2021 and build a strong volunteer pipeline for the academic year ahead.

“Ready Set was created to make it as simple as possible for tutors and mentors to volunteer to help kids,” CAA co-chairman and Ready Set advisory board member Richard Lovett told Variety. “In our 25 years of supporting public schools, the need has never been greater.”

Cardona and other leaders highlighted the importance of re-engaging students this summer, building America’s student support network and creating excitement around returning to in-person learning this fall.

“With the help of Ready Set mentors, we will help students recover this year,” Cardona said while speaking at the event. “To be a part of this important network, I’m asking folks to consider tutoring, mentoring, or serving with Ready Set. By volunteering, you can support students accelerate their learning to build strong relationships with caring adults.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Artists Offering Civic Lessons in Netflix’s Animated Series “We the People”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is giving a civics lesson…

The 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and playwright, the mastermind behind the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, lends his voice to the new animated Netflix series We the People.

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

Created by Chris Nee and produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, the 10-part series provides a range of civics lessons through three-minute music videos on topics that include the Bill of Rights, immigration and the courts.

In addition to Miranda, the series also features award-winning artists H.E.R., Brandi CarlisleBebe Rexha and others.

Miranda took on the topic of “The Three Branches of Government” episode, writing and performing the song “Checks and Balances,” alongside Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Daveed Diggs, Brittany Howard and Robert Lopez.

With its light hip-hop bear, the catchy number explains the checks and balances of the United States government.

Meanwhile, Jorge R. Gutierrez directs the immigration-themed episode, which features the track “American Citizen,” performed by Bebe Rexha.

The 46-year-old Mexican animator, painter, writer, voice actor, and production designer helms Rexha’s pop message that lets everyone know from the second they are born, they are an “American Citizen.”

The episode is full of visual treats showing how the country is one built from a nation of immigrants, as animated versions of Sofia Vergara, Steven Chen, Anousheh Ansari and Padma Lakshmi are all featured to illustrate the point.

We the People premiered on Sunday, July 4 on Netflix.

Eva Longoria Joins Coalition Set to Launch LA-Based Magnet School, Roybal School of Film and Television Production

Eva Longoria is helping “drive transformational change across the entertainment industry for students from underserved communities.”

The 46-year-old Mexican American actress, producer and activist has joined a coalition of industry leaders who are partnering with Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner to found the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, a specialized academy housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

Eva Longoria

In addition to Longoria, the project is also being spearheaded by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Don Cheadle, Kerry WashingtonMindy Kaling, Nicole Avant, Working Title Films founders Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd.

The Roybal School is set to launch in fall 2022 as a magnet school, providing LAUSD teachers with access to storytellers, industry professionals and experts, while supporting students with academic education and practical training.

The inaugural program will be overseen by Principal Blanca Cruz. Roybal will feature a curriculum designed to meet standards prescribed by the state of California and the University of California system. Students also will receive real-world experience through a dedicated internship initiative.

The school will launch with grades 9 and 10, and include grades 11 and 12 over the next two years. The pilot program could be expanded later to additional schools throughout the Los Angeles area.

“This effort will help open the doors of opportunity for a diverse group of students from underserved communities,” Beutner said. “This groundbreaking program will help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the film and television industry by integrating practical industry experience and internships for students into the curriculum.”

Beutner explained how industry lessons could be woven into the curriculum: “Physics is involved in the choice of a lens by a cinematographer, math is part of the foundation for a musical score in a film, critical thinking skills are needed to design a set, screenwriters need a foundation in literacy, and a make-up artist needs to know the chemistry of the different materials they might use – all of this will be tied into the curriculum at the school,” he said.

“Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country,” Clooney said. “That means starting early. It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer. It means internships that lead to well-paying careers. It means understanding that we’re all in this together.”

The founding members will serve on the school’s Production Advisory Board, lending expertise and support with the intent of building a more inclusive pipeline of career-ready talent for the film and television industry, according to the announcement.

Said Avant, “Everyone involved with this effort understands the need to create points of access: access to resources, information, skills, and mentorship. It is our hope that every guild and company across the entertainment industry landscape joins our efforts to build a bridge to opportunity.”

Added Lourd, “We invite every interested and committed person and company in our industry to join this effort. We have the collective power to accelerate the academic and professional trajectories of so many students and bring about positive change.”

Carlos Vives Donates “Cumbiana: Relatos De Un Mundo Perdido” Book to Schools

Carlos Vives is an open book…

The 59-year-old Colombian singer has spoken with more than 75 students across the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico about his book Cumbiana: Relatos De Un Mundo Perdido.

Carlos Vives

During this week’s virtual event, Vives talked about cumbia and its roots and described his experiences writing the book.

The institutions that were part of the talk with Vives were also recipients of a special donation:

Vives gifted schools located in cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Mexico City and Yauco (Puerto Rico) with a copy of his book, in which he traces the origins of cumbia through a magical journey that interweaves the artist’s memories with historical facts.

The book is available on Amazon.