About the Rio Grande Foundation
We are building a New Mexico where liberty, opportunity, and prosperity flourish.
The mission of the Rio Grande Foundation is to increase liberty and prosperity for all of New Mexico by informing citizens of the importance of individual freedom, limited government, and economic opportunity.
The Rio Grande Foundation is a gold-level GuideStar participant, demonstrating its commitment to transparency.
The Rio Grande Foundation is an economic policy think tank located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Foundation is affiliated with the U.S. nationwide State Policy Network. It was founded in 2000 by Hal Stratton, a former state representative and Attorney General of New Mexico, and Harry Messenheimer, an economist then at George Mason University. Paul Gessing became president in 2006.
The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable, tax-exempt, non-profit organization.
The Foundation maintains a blog called Errors of Enchantment, a podcast called Tipping Point New Mexico, and regularly contributes opinion pieces to local newspapers, as well as publishing reports on state economic policy. Gessing has been featured on local talk shows and radio programs to discuss economic issues facing New Mexico as a whole and the greater Albuquerque area, as well as other rural communities throughout the state.
New Mexico is among the poorest states in the country. We are plagued with the lowest or near-lowest outcomes in primary education—despite the fact that we lead the Southwest region in spending per student. Progressive, big-government interests have been pouring money into our government but have been resistant to any real change in the way they operate. Transparency, accountability, and innovation have been stifled. Unsurprisingly to anyone outside the far left, spending massive amounts of money without real accountability has led to creating the most broken state government in the country.
Despite these issues, we believe that New Mexico represents the single greatest opportunity from a policy development perspective—and not just because the only way to go is up. We truly believe that what happens in New Mexico matters everywhere. We believe that New Mexico is Exhibit A of the “high cost of good intentions”—how progressive policies designed, in theory, to help the poorest among us end up disproportionately hurting low-income and minority citizens.
We believe that reform to the education system, by following both established best practices, including school choice, and innovative programs, is the key to enhancing both the short-term and long-term welfare of those who can benefit most from improved education. New Mexico represents a rare opportunity from a policy development standpoint—an impoverished, progressive state ruined by its own policies, where there is a clear path upwards if the principles of liberty, choice, transparency, and accountability are followed.
Our ultimate goal is to help every state become one in which the principles of school choice, liberty in education, and the best interests of families are at the forefront of educational design, and to ensure that families are strengthened and supported by public policy, not attacked or weakened. In fulfilling a dramatic improvement to the most basic tenet of educating our children, the Rio Grande Foundation is continuing to further the study, defense, and practice of the individual initiative and ordered liberty that lead to prosperity, strong families, and vibrant communities.