Sara Keller is focused on cultivating community.
This is exactly why she finds her role at Nusenda Credit Union as vice president of Community Engagement a perfect fit.
It’s why Nusenda Credit Union is once again the title sponsor for the New Mexico Spelling Bee.
Nusenda Credit Union has a long-standing history in Albuquerque.
Prior to taking on its new name, the credit union was derived from Albuquerque Public Schools in the early 1930s.
“Being able to lead the way as a sponsor of the spelling bee falls in line with our efforts within the community,” Keller says. “We are really rooted in education. Over the years, our community impact strategies have evolved, yet education has been at the root of it.”
Keller says spelling bees are pivotal to many because it gives an opportunity for a student to identify their passion.
“It’s imperative that every New Mexico student has an equitable access to high-quality education,” she says. “The spelling bee is a wonderful feeder for a New Mexico student to represent the state at a national level. They get the opportunity to showcase what they’ve been able to get with a New Mexico education.”
As Nusenda steps in as the sponsor, it makes it possible for students from every city or town in New Mexico to have the opportunity to compete.
As a child, Keller participated in her school-based spelling bee. Though she never advanced.
“I had a lot of stage fright and that might have been one of the reasons that stuck with me,” Keller says. “As an adult, I realized what a wonderful life skill it taught me. I do a lot of speaking in front of audiences today. Having that stage fright as a child helped me overcome it as an adult.”
Keller says Nusenda runs grant programs and sponsorships throughout the year.
One of the grants is the Financial Education Innovation Award, which is given to recognize educators who go above and beyond to improve financial well-being across New Mexico.
The program began in 2018 and the awards demonstrate Nusenda’s ongoing commitment to strengthening communities and investing in innovative solutions that improve education, health, social and economic outcomes.
“Supporting educators and fostering programs that promote financial opportunity are core to our commitment to making a positive difference in New Mexico,” says Joe Christian, Nusenda president and CEO. “We are grateful for the educators and organizations that are bringing new ideas to life and pleased to sponsor their work.”
This year, Nusenda plans to award a total of $20,000, with $15,000 designated for an organizational effort and five $1,000 classroom educators awards. The winners will be announced in April to celebrate Financial Literacy Month.
“These awards invest in organizations and educators who are impacting New Mexicans’ financial well-being in unique ways,” Keller says.
Keller says the sponsorship program must align with one or more of the five focus areas – education, health care, environment and wildlife, the arts and community services.
Nusenda Credit Union’s sponsorship program is designed to support events, limited-time programming, or annual fundraising activities. To be awarded sponsorship funding, these activities should:
• Be impactful and address the needs of the community they serve.
• Have long-lasting benefits from the success of the event or program.
• Demonstrate that goals are aligned with one or more of the credit union’s five focus areas.
• Bring together a wide variety of people across sectors, geographies and cultural communities to experience engaging programming and discussions that inspire, equip or connect them to lead change more effectively.
• Strengthen foundation and nonprofit networks in New Mexico.