At its bi-annual conference this week, the Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) awarded Nusenda Credit Union top honors in three categories for its financial literacy programming, its Co-op Capital micro-lending program, and its employee-based volunteerism programs.
In the “greater than $1 billion” assets category, Nusenda won first place in the Desjardins Award for Financial Literacy, the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award, and the Louise Herring Philanthropy-in-Action Member Service Award.
Based on these entries, Nusenda Credit Union was also announced as the national first-place winner of the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Louise Herring Philanthropy-in-Action Member Service Award, and as an honorable mention for the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award. Credit union representatives will receive the national awards at the CUNA’s 2019 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. this March. Also at that event, the Nusenda Foundation will receive the National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) Herb Wegner Memorial Award for innovative, creative, and risk-taking work and leadership. This award was announced last October.
The Louise Herring Award is given to a credit union demonstrating the internal application of the credit union philosophy to help better financial matters and increase financial education for its members; the Dora Maxwell Award is presented to credit unions for outstanding social responsibility projects in their communities. The Desjardins Award recognizes leaders within the credit union movement on behalf of financial literacy for all ages.
“One of the seven cooperative principles of credit unions is concern for community – and we are honored to be recognized along with other credit unions statewide who embody the credit union difference,” said Nusenda Credit Union’s Chief Community Engagement Officer Robin Brulé. “As local, not-for-profit, community-based financial institutions, we work tirelessly to improve the quality of life and financial well-being of New Mexicans.”
In a 2015 Wallethub study, New Mexico was ranked as the fifth-least financially literate state; it also ranked next to last for the percentage of people with a “rainy day” fund. Only 17 states require a high-school course in personal finance, and as of now New Mexico is not one of them. Another report from the Council for Economics Education shows that one-third of parents are more comfortable talking with their kids about smoking, drugs, and bullying then they are talking to them about money.
Nusenda Credit Union works with school districts, colleges, and organizations statewide to provide funding and resources to help boost financial literacy, such as:
- Award-winning, state-standard approved teaching tools and educator resources that are provided free of charge.
- Co-partnering with a first-of-its-kind, on-campus financial resource center at the University of New Mexico, which provides peer-based, no-cost mentorship and guidance on the financial challenges college students face.
- Financial Career Exploration courses that help students learn about the financial services industry and provide dual high-school and college credit, as well as paid internships.
- Scholarships for summer school courses so high-school seniors can earn their diplomas and graduate on time, with their peers.
The Nusenda Foundation's Co-op Capital program, often called the 'alternative to the alternatives,' is a character-based, community circle micro-lending program that provides access to financial capital to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color who have no access to collateral, are credit-challenged, or lack support of alternative financing. Instead of relying on these typical lending qualifications, Co-op Capital flips the traditional lending model and bases lending on trusted relationships between partner organizations - such as nonprofits, community organizations, educational institutions, and individuals needing capital in the communities they serve. The Co-op Capital program to date has distributed more than $675,000 to help borrowers obtain college degrees, open new businesses, or grow existing small businesses.
Nusenda Credit Union's employee volunteerism programs also expanded in 2018. Along with the credit union’s annual Community Day company-wide volunteer program, new Adopt-A-Cause programs give employees the opportunity to give back year-round, with their branch or department, to support local organizations such as: PB&J Family Services, The Girls Inc., Locker #505, Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico, Galloping Grace Youth Ranch, the state Children, Youth, and Families Department, and more.
Last year, almost two dozen organizations statewide received on-the-ground and financial assistance from Nusenda Credit Union employee Adopt-A-Cause volunteer teams; 235 employees – 45 percent of its total workforce – also volunteered for five charities in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Socorro for the organization-wide Community Day last October.
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