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Nusenda Foundation Looking to Honor Financial Education Innovators

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and as part of recognizing the importance of financial literacy to improve education, health, social, and economic outcomes across New Mexico, the Nusenda Foundation is committed to honoring Financial Education Innovators statewide.

This award, established in 2018, celebrates those in the community who are dedicated to increasing economic mobility and stability for their fellow New Mexicans by designing and carrying out innovative strategies that improve financial well-being.

These innovators can be from diverse backgrounds, such as businesses, community organizations, nonprofits, education, and government sectors. Nominations are being accepted now, and the process is simple. Visit, and click on the Nominate an Innovator button at the top of the home page. Four recipients will be selected each year to each receive $5,000 in funding from the Nusenda Foundation to help grow or develop their initiatives.

Previous Financial Education Innovator awardees include:

  • Andrea Mattern, former math teacher at Albuquerque’s Valley High School and a member of the Federal Reserve Bank Educational Council. She was selected for her innovative classroom strategies and dedication to help students become money smart.
  • Alex Luce of Mandy’s Farm Vocational Access and Meaningful Opportunities for Success (VAMOS) program, a pioneering effort to help individuals with disabilities and their families to become financially secure.
  • Julian Griego, Lead Instructor and Chef de Cuisine for the Street Food Institute, which uses the culture and allure of food and the culinary arts to create jobs, develop local business opportunities, and inspire the entrepreneurial leaders of the future.
  • Henry Jake Foreman, MCRP, founder of the Indigenous youth collective and mentorship program Karuna Colectiva and Program Manager of New Mexico Community Capital’s Financial Literacy and Business Basics course, who uses Indigenous processes and methodologies to encourage personal development, innovation, and entrepreneurship to Native Americans.

“A strong financial education has been shown to have a positive effect on the economic well-being of individuals and their families, and also predicts future healthy behaviors around savings, credit card usage, spending, and risk,” said Robin Brulé, Nusenda Credit Union chief community relations officer and executive director of the Nusenda Foundation.

Before the coronavirus public health and economic crisis, Prosperity Now, a public policy organization in Washington, D.C. reported sobering numbers for New Mexicans’ financial health and well-being. According to the organization, 46% of people in New Mexico households are in a persistent state of financial insecurity, which means that if faced with an emergency, they lack adequate savings to cover basic expenses for three months. Additionally, New Mexico ranks 50th in income poverty and 49th in the number of unbanked households. Specifically in Albuquerque, the average annual pay is 18.2% less than the national average (almost $9,000). Of the more than 345,000 households in the Albuquerque metro area, 16.8% have zero or negative net worth, one percent higher than the national average.

Nusenda Credit Union and Nusenda Foundation are known statewide and nationally for fostering partnerships that tackle these challenges. In 2019, the organizations distributed more than $11 million to credit union members and their communities in both financial and in-kind support that was instrumental in helping organizations and the people they serve. The Nusenda Foundation also oversees large grants coming into New Mexico communities that provide resources for entrepreneurs, education, and community development projects. It is also the recipient of grants from Living Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation and the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

In 2017, the Foundation was named one of 10 winners of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships for its role in supporting the Albuquerque Living Cities Integration Initiative, a cross-sector partnership focused on accelerating job creation and economic mobility in Albuquerque; in 2018, it received the Herb Wegner Memorial Award from the National Credit Union Foundation — its highest honor — for its innovative, creative, and risk-taking work and leadership.

Rewarding those we serve.

The Power of WE® in Action