DOI / VISTA Team Projects

Groundwork Dona Ana County

DOI / VISTA: Vanessa Martinez
Supervisor: Ceci Vasconcellos
Address: 125 North Main St. Suite 115, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001
County: Dona Ana County
Voice Telephone: 575-915-2771
Web site:
Congressional District: 2
Bureau: Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)


Groundwork Dona Ana County’s mission is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement, and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships which empower people, businesses, and organizations to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being. Groundwork Dona Ana (GWDA) is a non-profit organization working to engage, empower, and transform the physical and social landscape of Dona Ana County through on-the-ground projects. GWDA contributes to improving the quality of life in Dona Ana County by creating opportunities for local people, especially youth, to learn new skills and take action on practical community projects. This creates better, safer, and healthier communities, and this helps local businesses and individuals fulfill their potential.

About the Surrounding Community

Dona Ana County contains 37 of New Mexico’s 55 federally designated underdeveloped communities known as “colonias”. 97% of “colonias” residents are Hispanic with an average income of $5,000. These communities are often devoid of safe housing, sanitary drinking water, or functioning sewer systems. An additional 25.4% of Dona Ana County residents living outside of “colonias” also live in poverty.

Project Overview

Groundwork is working to create paid conservation jobs for disadvantaged minority youth in Dona Ana County. The DOI/VISTA is working to build capacity for economic development through the creation and planning of a Green Job and Brownfield Training Program. 28 Green Team/Youth Conservation Corps members have been recruited so far, of which nine of the high schools members will be gaining their first work experience through the Green Team. Scholarships will also be provided to those interested in conservation to engage the possibility of higher education for graduating high school seniors on the team. As a result Justice has been able to assist GWDA in enhancing community awareness and involvement through education and outreach. 

Sponsors and Partners

For more information please visit:!partners-and-sponsors/c9k4