The Santa Fe Community Educators Network (SFCEN) began in January of 2014 with education directors from local museums and cultural institutions gathering to discuss professional development and best practice. Over the course of a year the group settled into a regular monthly meeting schedule and began inviting speakers to present to the attendees and deliberately focusing on a variety of topics from field trips and volunteers to internships and adult education. In early 2015, after a year of collaborative work, SITE Santa Fe, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden applied for funding from the Santa Fe Community Foundation through the Opportunity Santa Fe: Birth to Career initiative on behalf of the SFCEN . The Community Educators Network was granted funds to underwrite speakers, support monthly planning and professional development meetings and cover program costs. This allowed participants to develop more formal partnerships, including beginning to provide coordinated Santa Fe City summer camp field trips, afterschool programs, and a Teacher Resource Fair. This growth increased in 2016 and 2017 with additional funding from Opportunity Santa Fe initiative to formalize the organizational structure, offer teacher trainings, middle school programs, and begin to create collaborative assessment protocols.
Over six years, the group grew from 15 participants to more than 180 individuals on the email list. SFCEN has gained traction as a resource that other organizations approach to develop collaborative programs and projects. With a wide variety of participants, from independent consultants to museum staff, STEM educators and art educators, SFCEN provides a forum where those involved in informal education can come together for support, conversation, and implementing collaborative programs. We believe that together we can make a difference in increasing educational opportunities in our community and enriching the lives of Santa Feans.