Does your bank care about the community you live and work in? You may not know it, but Del Norte Credit Union regularly shows its support for our community through its philanthropic arm, the Del Norte LOV Foundation. The not-for-profit organization has made a commitment toward advocating for, and engaging with, the communities they serve. They are committed to spreading the love.
Founded in 2018 by employees at Del Norte Credit Union and registered as a 501(c)3 public charity nonprofit organization in 2020, The Del Norte LOV Foundation promotes financial literacy, volunteerism, education, and improving the lives of youth and their families. Every member involved in the foundation is invested in that mission because the ultimate goal is to create positive changes in their communities.
“It came out of an idea and a desire from the employees to do something that had some lasting impact,” says Matthew Ruybal, associate director of the Del Norte LOV Foundation. “Youth and education, and improving lives, that’s a big part of our mission through Del Norte Credit Union. They’ve always done things to try and address those areas, but as the Del Norte LOV Foundation continues to expand and grow, we hope to make a bigger difference in many areas.”
To do so, the Del Norte LOV Foundation focuses on the implementation of several programs.
Financial Literacy Programs with Del Norte LOV Foundation
One important initiative that the Del Norte LOV Foundation has had since it was founded — and one that the Credit Union strongly believes in — is financial literacy. That includes everything from opening and maintaining a checking and savings account to one-on-one debt counseling. If knowledge is power, Del Norte LOV Foundation is empowering the people in its communities by educating them about money matters from kindergarten on. Which is why it starts in the schools.
Del Norte LOV Foundation’s School Financial Literacy program is sponsored through Banzai Schools and is currently in 93 schools across the counties Del Norte Credit Union serves: Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Española, White Rock, and Rio Rancho. Through this program, since it was established, the Del Norte LOV Foundation has educated 15,560 students to date, through the dedication of 253 teachers. By the time you read this, those numbers will have increased.
“All materials are appropriate for students from the age of 8 all the way up to the early college years,” says Ruybal. “Any teachers who are interested in joining this program, and accessing the materials for their classrooms, are invited to register any time for free. We always encourage educators who want to enroll with the Banzai Financial Literacy resources, to give us a call. It’s a really simple process, there’s no cost, and it’s a program that is in both English and Spanish, so it works really well in our area.”
But lest you think the program is only available to Del Norte Credit Union members, consider this: all Banzai materials are made available to the general public, particularly families. Children begin asking questions at a very young age, but when it comes to questions about money, there seldom seem to be any simple answers. Why are groceries so expensive? Why should I save the money I get for my birthday? What’s inflation? What’s cryptocurrency?
Wouldn’t it be nice, as a parent, to have information available to tackle these and other financial issues? Lucky you! All that information is available free of charge through the Del Norte LOV Foundation website.
Del Norte LOV Foundation Student Scholarships
Another program administered by the Del Norte LOV Foundation is the Del Norte Credit Union’s long-standing scholarship program. In early January of each year, all graduating high school seniors, or those earning their GED, have an opportunity to apply for the scholarship program through the website. Just as with the Financial Literacy Program, it is not a requirement that the students’ parents be members of Del Norte Credit Union.
“They can also be students from around the state, not just the counties that we serve,” says Ruybal. “Students who receive those scholarships can utilize them at any higher education institution of their choice. Last year we gave out a total of $16,000 in awards to ten students. As we grow as a foundation, we hope to grow that as well.”
Other Areas of Support
There are other programs available through Del Norte LOV Foundation that also have an impact on Northern New Mexico. The Community Sponsorship program is open year-round and allows nonprofit organizations, or local groups with a nonprofit sponsor, to apply. These sponsorships must align with the mission of Del Norte LOV Foundation but can be for anything from Little League games and school fun runs to materials for adult education. Check the website for more information.
Then there’s the Community Grantmaking program, which comes in two cycles: spring and fall. This bi-annual grant-making program is a special programmatic funding opportunity for local nonprofits. Each nonprofit organization grantee receives $2,500 in charitable funds toward their programming, to help cover costs for things like dance classes for students or literacy outreach. The spring cycle runs from mid-March, through mid-April, while the fall cycle begins in mid-September and closes mid-October. This information can also be found on the website.
“We also partner with community events, so you’ll often see the Del Norte Love Foundation at various events all around Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, White Rock, and Rio Rancho,” Ruybal concludes. “Any chance we get to show off these resources and spread the word about financial literacy, we take part. So, if you’re out there and you see our purple and orange T-shirts and banners, we encourage you to come on over and chat with us. Of course, you can always visit our website, or give us a call at 505-455-5106.”
This article was posted by David Salcido