When we work together, we have the power to create positive change in the communities where we live, work, and play. That’s the philosophy behind Nusenda Credit Union’s Community Rewards® program.
In 2016-2017, the Nusenda Foundation, the credit union’s philanthropic arm, distributed nearly $1 million to organizations that are positively impacting communities across New Mexico.
One of Nusenda’s Community Rewards partners is Prosperity Works, which works toward a vision of a New Mexico where every person has access to the opportunities, knowledge, and relationships to achieve economic prosperity.
Research shows that children with savings accounts in their own name are four times more likely to enroll in college, and are 3 ½ times more likely to graduate than those who don’t have a savings account. Contributions from Nusenda members through Community Rewards go to help Prosperity Kids, a multi-generational program that helps parents and kids improve their current and long-term security.
Jill Geltmaker, Prosperity Works’ Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, explains.
“We work with parents who really want to support their children and build for future investment for their college education,” she says. “So we open a savings account in the child’s name and seed it with $100. We then match up to $200 each year of investment into their child’s future.”
Along with that, the Prosperity Works team and their network of community partners and financial coaches provides additional services to help parents.
“Included in the Prosperity Kids program, we provide 10 weeks of financial education, information on basic health and development goals for their children, and how to be the best advocate for their child,” Geltmaker says. “The best thing about this work is that it gives families a future orientation. And families who can see a future for themselves and their children are stronger within the community.
“When families come in, they start by getting some basic information about what it really means to have a savings account and how this can contribute to building financial stability. This is a long-term family and community investment in their children. That commitment is vital for students to be able to work effectively as they go to school. They’re able to say, ‘You know what, everybody believes in me. My family is supporting me. There is a future for me. I have a role in this world.’”
Depending on their age, the Prosperity Kids children have an active role to play in the program.
“They get to go into the bank or credit union and say, ‘This is mine. I belong here,’” Geltmaker says. “They bring their piggy banks where they have saved their coins every day for a month and say, ‘This is for my future. This is for my college savings account.’”
This program doesn’t just help children and families, Geltmaker says. The aim is to create an overarching system where all New Mexicans can thrive.
“We recognize that all communities throughout New Mexico could really benefit by being able to build assets,” she says. “And we do that through creating policy initiatives that support all individuals, doing work against barriers like predatory lending.
“These opportunities we create are for people to support themselves and their families. And stronger families mean stronger communities.”
This program is made possible through the financial partnership between Nusenda and its members, who contribute with qualifying use of their Visa® debit cards. They also guide Community Rewards contributions, which support a wide range of organizations that fall under five categories — the arts, healthcare, education, the environment, and community support.
As a Nusenda Credit Union member, being a part of Community Rewards is simple — just make sure you’re enrolled to participate.