Meet our members! AFN’s greatest asset is our members—a diverse network of national, regional, and community-based foundations, financial institutions, and grantmakers—investing in advancing equitable wealth building and economic mobility. Check back each month and meet your peers!
1: What is the mission of your organization and how is advancing equitable wealth building and economic mobility incorporated into the work?
That is our work. GCU has specialized products to help members improve their financial lives. This includes predatory debt relief loans and payday loan alternatives all priced below 25%. For the past several years we have worked with the Coalition for Fair lending in NM to lower the exorbitant interest rates charged to those who can least afford it in NM. Finally this year a 36% rate cap was passed and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. GCU also has both one-on-one financial coaching in all of our branches and provides financial education in many venues. One example pre-COVID that we hope to start again soon is our Financial Reality Fairs for High School students. It is really amazing to hear some of the comments from the students such as: “I guess I really do need to go to college”, “I don’t know how my parents do this, no wonder they worry about money”, “I didn’t know they took all of this money out of your paycheck”, and at a few fairs we have had a baby on the “wheel of life” that they spin, it was interesting to hear some of the students say, “I didn’t want a kid, they are so expensive, I can’t afford this on the salary I am getting.” We also work with the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute to provide loans for the farmers to grow their businesses or make it through rough spots.
2: What are some of the permanent pivots you have made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current moment emphasizing the critical need for strategies that provide a range of support to women and Black, Latinx, Indigenous and Asian people and communities?
I wouldn’t say we have made any pivots, just pushed forward with providing products and services to help our members. We also provided interest forgiveness during the pandemic to insure our members didn’t face negative amortization on their loans. Our financial coaches worked hard to help members with their struggles. In some cases we have refinanced mortgages for other lenders who had confused the member by telling them they were giving them payment forbearance. The member thought this meant once their lives normalized they would just start making payments again, instead the lender wanted to the total amount for all of the payments that weren’t made in a lump sum. By refinancing, the members were able to retain their homes. GCU also keeps non-conforming mortgage loans in our portfolio.
3: What are some of the most significant gaps that you have identified that could help address economic equity?
Affordable housing is becoming an even bigger problem. GCU has employees that are married and combined make income of over $120,000.00 a year and cannot afford to purchase a home in Santa Fe. They make too much for assistance from some programs and too little to afford on their own, especially with rent going up. There is also a need for assistance in rural areas that are often overlooked. Down payment assistance can be helpful for all. Also, more resources for grandparents raising grandchildren in some of our drug impacted northern counties. The minimum wage has gone up, however, with the current inflation still very difficult to make ends meet. Also, childcare assistance is a big one. There are many younger women leaving the work force that make just a little too much for childcare assistance and cannot afford childcare. The free college tuition just passed should be a big help in this area and it was also extended to those pursuing a trade.
4: What have been some of the biggest benefits of being part of the Asset Funders Network?
Information received regarding social issues and poverty in general has aided us in grant writing.
5: What is your favorite online shop owned by women or people of color?
I try my best to shop local rather than online whenever possible. I do like Farmgirl Flowers, I do realize this is a very large business. https://farmgirlflowers.com/
About Winona Nava, Guadalupe Credit Union
GCU is a Community Development Credit Union with the CDFI designation. We serve those living in Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Taos, Mora, San Miguel, and Torrance County. Our mission is providing financial empowerment in the communities we serve.
I report to a Volunteer Board of Directors. I set the strategic direction for GCU in conjunction with the Board and ensure that initiatives are carried out to move the needle on financial empowerment in the counties we serve.