Financial aid offered for fire victims, saving for college - Albuquerque Journal

Financial aid offered for fire victims, saving for college

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Community foundations played a key role in establishing two funds – one to help victims of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire, and the other to establish a college fund for needy schoolchildren.

Families that were financially affected by the state’s largest wildfire and subsequent flooding can apply for cash assistance of $1,000 through the All Together New Mexico Fund, a collaboration between the New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations and the Governor’s Office.

The Saving for Success New Mexico program puts $1,000 into an account for families who are unable to save for higher education for their children. That program is a collaboration of the New Mexico Community Trust and the New Mexico Education Trust Board.

Randy Royster, president and chief executive officer of the Albuquerque Community Foundation and subsidiary New Mexico Community Trust. (Courtesy of Albuquerque Community Foundation)

Randy Royster, president and chief executive officer of the Albuquerque Community Foundation and subsidiary New Mexico Community Trust, said the All Together fund was originally established to provide financial assistance to small nonprofits and small businesses that were having difficulty keeping their operations going during the pandemic shutdown.

Post-pandemic, “we kept the fund in place, but decided to reactivate it for giving assistance to folks affected by the fires and the flooding that happened after the fires,” he said.

The fund, which has about $1 million, provides a one-time-only $1,000 award to families affected by the fire or flooding. To qualify applicants must live in San Miguel, Mora, Colfax, Lincoln, Sandoval or Sierra counties. Applications will be randomized for approval once the Dec. 4 application window closes.

The Saving for Success program establishes a college 529 Education Plan savings account with $1,000 for families of school children in K-8th grades.

“The reason it’s limited to K-8th grade is because we want to make sure that the award gets into an account that has the opportunity to grow,” Royster said. “So if you are opening the account after eighth grade, it’s not going to have much opportunity to grow.”

Families cannot make subsequent contributions to that account. However, there will be other awards offered that feed into the account for such things as completing financial literacy training for parents or for students, although the amounts of such awards have not yet been determined, Royster said.

“Because this is the inaugural year, we’ll be looking for other programs that the student and families can be getting into that upon completion will give them an additional award to the fund that’s been set up for them,” he said.

In addition to the K-8th grade requirement, the student must be a citizen or resident alien of the United States with a valid Social Security number or Tax ID Number; be attending a school, or be home-schooled; prepare a short personal statement; provide official documentation from current school or source of education; and demonstrate financial need. The deadline to apply for the program is Dec. 21.

The New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations includes the Albuquerque Community Foundation, Santa Fe Community Foundation, The New Mexico Foundation, also in Santa Fe, Taos Community Foundation, Los Alamos Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico located in Las Cruces.

The New Mexico Community Trust is a separate community foundation that provides services “in areas of New Mexico, where community foundations don’t exist, or where the ones that do exist, for whatever reason, may not have the expertise for certain work,” Royster said.

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