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Juntos Avanzamos Program Comes To New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Two New Mexico credit unions became the first credit unions in the state to earn the “Juntos Avanzamos” designation.

Juntos Avanzamos (Spanish for “Together We Advance”), is a program for CUs that testify they have multi-lingual and multi-cultural employees and are ready to serve the Hispanic market. The designation was conferred upon $268 million Rio Grande Credit Union, based here, and $138 million Guadalupe Credit Union, headquartered in Santa Fe, N.M., at separate ceremonies on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, State Sen. Michael Padilla, Bernalillo County Commissioner Art de la Cruz, and Mexican Consulate Lic. Helder Manuel Lopez Calvo were in attendance at the Rio Grande CU flag raising ceremony. The visiting dignitaries helped Chris Fitzgerald, Rio Grande CU’s president and CEO, welcome the community in celebrating the designation at its Albuquerque South Valley location.

Mexican Consulate Lic. Lopez Calvo said when he was in Orlando, banks “embraced deposits but wouldn't provide loans to Mexicans,” so he felt they “only wanted to take from them without providing anything back,” and so were no longer welcomed at the Consulate.

Fitzgerald said in a statement, “The Juntos Avanzamos designation validates all of the hard work Rio Grande Credit Union puts into serving both the Hispanic and the underserved communities. It is part of our mission to educate our membership on financial health in order to help them grow and prosper. Having everyone out to celebrate the flag raising made for a memorable occasion.”

Guadalupe Credit Union also held a ceremony to celebrate the Juntos Avanzamos designation, at which Winona Nava, the CU’s president and CEO, and State Sen. Richard Martinez welcomed friends, the community and supporters. Sen. Martinez congratulated Guadalupe CU on its achievement and even re-opened an account while he was in attendance. The ceremony was held at Guadalupe CU’s new Espanola branch.

Guadalupe CU, “Has been focused on financial inclusion for the Hispanic community for many years, and we are very pleased to be receiving the Juntos Avanzamos award for our hard work,” Nava said. “Flying the Juntos Avanzamos flag is a tangible way to show that we provide asset-building opportunities and access to affordable and responsible financial products and services to everyone who needs them.”

The Juntos Avanzamos program has been expanding in recent months, as it moved into Arizona in October and then California in November.

Moving to New Mexico was a natural next step. According to the most recent FDIC data, more than one in 10 households in the Albuquerque metro area (11.1%) had no bank accounts, and more than a third of households do little or no mainstream banking. As Juntos Avanzamos-designated credit unions, both Rio Grande CU and Guadalupe CU said they are ready to help address the unique financial needs of this largely Hispanic demographic. Both credit unions noted they offer products and services specifically designed to increase financial literacy in the Hispanic community.

The Juntos Avanzamos program was launched in 2005 by the Cornerstone Credit Union League as an immigrant outreach program. The program initially focuses on the Southwest, where it is supported by the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues, the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, and Mountain West Credit Union Association (representing CUs in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming).

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