Full-Time Bank On Fellow Will Lead Coalition of Government Leaders, Community Organizations, and Financial Institutions in New Mexico to Bank the Unbanked
November 17, 2023 – Millions of Americans across the country are outside of the stabilizing financial mainstream, without a safe banking account to manage their money and build towards a stronger financial future. Across the country, Bank On coalitions work to connect residents to safe, affordable accounts – and Prosperity Works just received a new grant to launch Bank On New Mexico and supercharge these efforts. Prosperity Works and national nonprofit the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) announced Delma Madrigal as Bank On New Mexico’s Fellow for a two-year term to advance banking access efforts at scale, including through identifying opportunities to connect access to safe accounts to programs and payments. Bank On New Mexico is one of six Bank On coalitions across the country whose work will be supported by this cohort of the Bank On Fellows initiative. The goal of the national Bank On movement is to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable financial products and services.
Now in its fourth Wells Fargo Foundation-supported cohort, the national Bank On Fellowship Program provides funding to six Bank On coalitions to support a full-time staff position for two years — a “Fellow” — to lead coalition activities. Launched in 2017 with generous support from the Wells Fargo Foundation, it is the first national initiative focused on building experienced banking access leaders across the country, equipping them with the training, tools, and resources to make significant advancements in local banking access efforts while at the same time generating best practices for other coalitions. Dedicated local leadership is critical to moving beyond general education and literacy efforts and instead into identifying systemic integration points – from unemployment insurance to tax refunds to other program and payment streams – to connect unbanked people to safe, affordable accounts at scale.
“A key requirement for economic prosperity is access to a safe and affordable transactional financial account,” said Ann Lyn Hall, Chief Executive Officer of Prosperity Works. “Prosperity Works has supported thousands of New Mexicans to access financial accounts to build assets. We are very excited to expand our asset building work through the development of the Bank On New Mexico Coalition.”
The CFE Fund leads the national Bank On movement, supporting local coalitions working to connect individuals and families to the financial mainstream through partnerships between local governments, financial institutions, and community organizations. The Bank On National Account Standards define characteristics of a safe, affordable, and fully functional consumer account; accounts certified as meeting Bank On Standards are available at over 400 banks and credit unions across the country in over 46,000 branches, comprising 60% of the U.S. deposit market share.
“Banking access is foundational to financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “A safe, affordable, mainstream account is critical to helping people manage their money and improve their financial health. Bank On coalitions across the country connect people to safe accounts at scale, and a dedicated coalition leader will only supercharge this work. We are proud to partner with the Wells Fargo Foundation to support Bank On New Mexico and their new full-time Fellow, Delma Madrigal, in helping New Mexicans connect to safe financial products.”
Bank On New Mexico is a new Bank On coalition whose goal is to decrease the number of unbanked and underbanked people across the state of New Mexico. The coalition is being led by Prosperity Works a non-profit that has focused on economic prosperity statewide for the last 20 years. The Bank On New Mexico fellow, Delma Madrigal, comes to Prosperity Works after successfully launching the Bank On Burque Coalition for the City of Albuquerque. Her experience also includes projects for supporting individuals with navigating “cliff effects” and exploring resources to pursue financial and educational goals. She is passionate about utilizing and adapting project management methods and tools within non-traditional spaces and non-profit work.
“Continuing the momentum built in launching Bank On Burque is exciting,” said Delma Madrigal, Economic Equity Director of Prosperity Works. “Expanding access to economic opportunities for all New Mexicans is what Prosperity Works is well known for and is the perfect organization to now provide the leadership and support for bringing the Bank On movement to other parts of New Mexico.”
“We’re excited to support the continuation of our partnership with CFE Fund and welcome our fourth cohort of Bank On Fellows to lead banking inclusion efforts in markets with high concentrations of unbanked households,” said Bonnie Wallace, head of Financial Health Philanthropy at Wells Fargo.
About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund)
The CFE Fund supports municipal efforts to improve the financial stability of households by leveraging opportunities unique to local government. By translating cutting-edge experience with large scale programs, research, and policy in cities of all sizes, the CFE Fund assists mayors and other local leaders to identify, develop, fund, implement, and research pilots and programs that help families build assets and make the most of their financial resources. The CFE Fund is currently working in over 100 cities and counties representing 75 million people, and has disbursed over $64 million to city governments and their partners to support these efforts. For more information, please visit www.cfefund.org or follow us on Twitter at @CFEFund.
About Prosperity Works
Prosperity Works is a nonprofit that supports limited-income New Mexicans build and protect assets they need to be successful. Whether that’s investing in education, providing low-interest lending options, assistance for buying a home, providing fair lending information, or even lowering energy bills. Prosperity Works collaborates with other nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, and financial institutions to make these life-changing strategies a reality. For more information, please visit www.prosperityworks.net or follow us on Twitter at @ProsperityWork
In 2021, New Mexico passed community solar legislation which authorized projects to be built here. They are large, 30-acre solar farms that provide electricity to many households and businesses without barriers that can be faced with rooftop solar such as cost, home ownership or roof health. Community solar is available to renters and homeowners, no matter the condition of their roofs, and to people without capital to make an investment in other forms of solar. Community solar is cleaner and cheaper to produce.
Access to community solar helps limited-income New Mexicans lower their energy bills so that they can use these financial resources on other critical needs. Community solar projects pass the electricity-generating savings to their customers. Households with limited incomes will be able to save up to 30% on their monthly electric bill and market rate customers 10%. This savings is critical to lower the energy burden in households. Energy burden is the percentage that a household spends on their utility bills compared to their annual income. In middle-income homes, the energy burden is about 2%. In low-income homes in New Mexico, the energy burden goes as high as 30%.
Over the last two years, Prosperity Works has completed several community solar initiatives to ensure the deepest impact for low-income households in New Mexico. We wrote a best practice guide for the State of New Mexico so that the over 45 projects that will be built in the state will benefit our most vulnerable households.
Currently, we are partnering with several community solar projects to help households sign up for community solar. We want to share information about community solar with more New Mexicans. If you have a group that we should reach out to, please let us know.
If you would like us to provide you with more information about community solar, let us know by filling out this interest form.
Thank you to all our supporters who continue to sustain our work!
Prosperity Works recently launched our energy equity work in the Town of Bernalillo. Right now over 40 households are signed up to receive energy efficiency upgrades like new energy-efficient lighting and power strips, weatherstripping, smart thermostats and more. Help support the innovative initiatives of Prosperity Works such as this one which safeguards the assets of low-income families in New Mexico by giving using the link below.
“Today we are excited to continue our work to address the unequal burden that energy costs place on lower-income households within the Town of Bernalillo after seeing great success with our program in Albuquerque, ” said Prosperity Works CEO, Dr. Ann Lyn Hall. “These energy upgrades will not only help lower bills for limited-income families but also allow them to focus on their health and financial freedom.”
Through capital stacking and partnerships with local city governments, the PNM Good Neighborhood Fund, the New Mexico Gas Company, and EnergyWorks, Prosperity Works offers these energy efficiency upgrades at no cost to homeowners.
“The Town is proud to announce our first-ever Energy Equity Day Celebration. Together with our partners at PNM, NM GAS CO., and Prosperity Works, we will provide resources to community members to improve the quality of life in their homes and help reduce costs and carbon emissions,” said Jack Torres, Mayor of Bernalillo. “We are grateful to these partners for offering these wonderful benefits to Bernalillo residents.”
“We’re keeping equity in the front seat of our strategies outlined by the Climate Action Plan,” said City of Albuquerque Sustainability Officer, Kelsey Rader. “Our frontline communities face the highest energy burdens, and we are taking steps with our community partners to ensure equitable access to energy efficiency upgrades and more to build a climate resilient future for all.”
About Prosperity Works
Prosperity Works is an economic equity and justice organization that is best known for launching the first Individual Development Account initiative in New Mexico and for the award-winning Prosperity Kids program. The organization is committed to fighting for greater financial inclusion and opportunity for all New Mexicans. Key areas of advocacy include providing equitable access to renewable energy for income-restricted families, bringing awareness to community programs and organizations designed to help limited-income individuals, and developing financial capability training and coaching for all New Mexicans.
Prosperity Works is excited to announce a $125,000 investment from Wells Fargo to help New Mexicans grow assets through matched savings accounts. These accounts can be used to purchase or repair a home, to grow a business, to attend college or to buy a car to get to work. We are grateful to our partners at Wells Fargo for their ongoing commitment to Prosperity Works. The funds received will be used to serve limited-income individuals in New Mexico with a focus on indigenous communities and rural areas of the state.
"We are excited and so grateful for the generous support from Wells Fargo to expand assets for New Mexicans through our individual development account program," said Dr. Ann Lyn Hall, CEO of Prosperity Works.
Tim Rios, Senior Vice President, Rural Strategy Leader at Wells Fargo is a strong advocate for asset-building strategies that lift up rural communities. Without the help of Lauren Hornett, VP of Senior Social Impact Specialist, and Katie Rollyson, VP of Social Impact and Sustainability Specialist, Prosperity Works wouldn’t be able to reach into these communities and help individuals in need.
“We are proud to support Prosperity Works’ efforts to ensure New Mexicans have access to opportunities, knowledge, and assistance they need to achieve economic prosperity,” said Lauren Hornett, Wells Fargo Vice President and Senior Social Impact Specialist.
Stay up to date with what our partners are doing by following us on social media. You can also learn more about our IDA program here.
BY SARA GERSEN, SENIOR ATTORNEY and ONA PORTER, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
To expand at-home charging for low- and moderate-income electric vehicle drivers, New Mexico shines a guiding light. Although early adopters of electric vehicles paid a high premium for cleaner cars, today’s electric car drivers often save money. Over their vehicles’ lifetimes, it costs much less to fuel and maintain electric cars than their gas-guzzling competition. In just a few years, experts expect the sticker price of an electric car will be lower than that of a comparable gas car. This means customers who purchase electric cars could save money from day one and thousands more in the coming years--if they have the charging infrastructure they need to fuel up on low-cost electricity. Making sure all drivers have access to low-cost vehicle charging is essential to relieving the disproportionate cost burdens of transportation on low- and middle-income families.
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission recently approved a suite of programs that will allow the state’s investor-owned utilities to support charging infrastructure in single-family and multi-family homes, workplaces, and other public places, as well as charging infrastructure for transit and school buses. In the coming years, massive deployments of infrastructure will be necessary to support electric vehicles in all of these settings. Earthjustice represented Prosperity Works and drew on Prosperity Works’ decades of experience with low-income energy efficiency programs to identify strategies that will help ensure these programs will be accessible to the families that need them most.
To implement best practices from these energy efficiency programs, policymakers should apply the following key principles to electric vehicle programs that help low- and moderate-income customers install chargers at home:
SARA GERSEN - Sara Gersen is a Clean Energy senior attorney. She is based in Los Angeles.
ONA PORTER - Ona is the Founder Emerita & Clean Energy Leader at Prosperity Works.
CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM - Earthjustice’s Clean Energy Program uses the power of the law and the strength of partnership to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy.
Read the original article on Earthjustice's website here.
“I have been a fan of Prosperity Works for many years and I am very excited to join the Prosperity Works team to support the mission of economic prosperity for all New Mexicans,” commented Ms. Hall. “I am eager to work with the Prosperity Works Board and partners to continue to build on the compelling outcomes that Prosperity Works has achieved over the years. I am overjoyed to get to work with a leader of the caliber and reputation like Ona Porter.”
Prosperity Works utilizes a dual-pronged anti-poverty tack that includes "out of poverty" and "ending poverty" strategies. Out of poverty strategies connect individuals and families with change-making assets—such as Child Savings Accounts, Individual Development Accounts, ﬁnancial capability training, and sustainable household energy assistance. Ending poverty strategies involve policy advocacy to remove barriers to opportunity that limit the asset-building capacity of historically marginalized communities, such as predatory lending.
“We owe a great deal of gratitude to Ona Porter, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of communities across New Mexico to ensure that all residents can prosper and thrive”, Abeyta commented. Ms. Porter will continue to lead on sustainable household energy efforts at Prosperity Works.
New Mexico Utilities to Invest More than $11 Million in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Education Programs
PNM can invest $10 million in a suite of electric vehicle programs, with more than $3 million targeting low- and moderate-income families, a promising first step for delivering the economic and health benefits of electric vehicles to all New Mexicans. The Public Regulation Commission also authorized EPE to invest more than $1.2 million in electric vehicle infrastructure and education in its southern New Mexico territory.
SANTA FE, N.M. (Nov. 10, 2021) – Today, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved transportation electrification plans for Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and El Paso Electric (EPE) to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles over the next two years. The plans will help fund charging equipment at single-family and multi-family homes, workplaces, other public places, including 70 fast chargers in PNM’s territory and 16 DCFC chargers in EPE’s territory.
A goal of the plans is to assist closing gaps in areas that do not have charging stations to enable EVs to travel longer distances, for example between Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Low-income customers in both territories will be eligible for incentives that cover the entire cost of installing chargers at customer’s homes. PNM will invest up to $1.5 million to install charging infrastructure for electric transit buses and school buses in underserved communities and $1 million educating customers about electric vehicles. This will include a partnership with a community-based organization to conduct tailored outreach to low- and moderate-income customers. EPE will invest up to almost $150,000 in low-income smart charging, over $100,000 in public transit and customer fleet smart charging, and $250,000 for customer outreach and education about EVs, charging infrastructure, and customer incentives.
Ona Porter, CEO at Prosperity Works said, “We appreciate that today’s Commission decisions strongly affirm our belief that we cannot reach our carbon reduction goals without the inclusion of low-moderate income residents in the deployment of ALL of the new technologies, and equally important, that these populations must be the beneficiaries of the reduced costs and improved health that they offer right alongside of their more affluent neighbors.”
Increasing access to electric vehicles is especially important for low- and moderate-income families because electric vehicles save their owners thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs. For residential customers, the cost of fueling an electric car is roughly equivalent to paying $1 per gallon of gasoline. New Mexico utilities serve low-income, rural areas where the average family currently devotes more than a third of its household income to transportation costs.
“Ditching a gas guzzler for a clean electric vehicle is a lot easier if you can recharge your car at home, so I’m glad the Public Regulation Commission approved a program that can unlock the financial and health benefits of electric vehicles for more low- and moderate-income families in New Mexico,” said Earthjustice senior attorney Sara Gersen, who represented Prosperity Works before the Commission.
Electrifying fleets of city buses, school buses, and other vehicles that burn diesel will provide essential public health benefits. Diesel exhaust is far more toxic than gasoline exhaust and disproportionately burdens low-income communities. PNM estimates that its program could support about 20 charging stations for buses. This is an important step in the right direction but dramatically increased investments will be necessary to electrify all the diesel-burning vehicles in PNM’s territory, which includes the metro Albuquerque area.
“Installing EV charging infrastructure so that average folks can access it is critical to helping our state drive down GHG emissions and harmful pollutants,” said Cara Lynch attorney for CCAE and Prosperity Works. “These programs are a positive first step to helping New Mexico’s families and low-income customers access EV charging. Overall, this can result in meaningful energy savings for families.”
New Mexico cannot meet its climate goals without a widespread transition to electric vehicles. Governor Lujan Grisham established a goal of reducing the state’s climate pollution by 45% by 2030. Transportation is New Mexico’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions — exceeded only by the oil and gas industry. Currently, fewer than 0.2% of vehicles registered in New Mexico are electric.
“The New Mexico PRC’s approval is another indicator that the state is making big strides toward an all-electric transportation future. Lack of access to charging infrastructure continues to be one of the biggest barriers to widespread EV adoption, and the PNM and EPE plans will be critical to increasing availability and encouraging more New Mexicans to go electric,” adds Aaron Kressig, transportation electrification manager at Western Resource Advocates. “It is encouraging to see that the Commission approved of plans that were more ambitious than the utilities originally proposed. They clearly responded to input from stakeholders who urged them to go even further and demonstrates that the New Mexico government understands that ambitious plans are necessary to meet the climate and air quality challenges of our time.”
In July 2021, the New Mexico Environment Department and the City of Albuquerque launched a rulemaking process that will lead to the adoption of standards that require auto manufacturers to sell electric vehicles and low emission vehicles in New Mexico. Increasing sales of electric vehicles will improve public health by helping New Mexico meet air quality standards, while allowing New Mexico to reach our climate goals. These rules are also essential for making more electric vehicles available in the state and creating a market for used electric vehicles.
“This is a big step toward a cleaner, more efficient transportation system for New Mexico,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “There’s something for everyone to like in this decision. It will save New Mexicans millions of dollars. At the same time, it will help clean up our air, protect our health and reduce climate change.”
Electrifying passenger vehicles on the trajectory needed to reach New Mexico’s climate goals will save drivers $20 billion through 2050, save utility customers almost $5 billion over the next 30 years in the form of reduced electricity bills, and prevent climate-changing pollution with a social value of $5 billion, according to a report commissioned by SWEEP and NRDC.
The New Mexico Legislature initiated this process in 2019, when it passed House Bill 19-521. The law directs investor-owned utilities to file transportation electrification plans for approval with the Public Regulation Commission on a regular basis.
Prosperity Works builds the capacity of organizations and advocates for policies that generate economic prosperity for all New Mexicans.
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.
Western Resource Advocates provides on the ground solutions to climate change. WRA works with policymakers and other advocates to advance clean energy; protect air, land, water, and wildlife; and sustain the lives and livelihoods of the West. For more information, visit westernresourceadvocates.org and follow us on Twitter @wradv and #ProtectTheWest.
CCAE uses strategic advocacy, scientific analysis, and grassroots organizing to advance clean energy policy and programs
With New Mexico's 2021 Legislative Session underway, Prosperity Works has been advocating in collaboration with the New Mexicans for Fair Lending Coalition for proactive legislative action that centers limited-income (LI) households. We are excited that Senate Bill 66 includes an all-inclusive 36% interest rate cap and strongly support it.
For LI individuals, or those without a developed credit history, the savings offered by employer-based lending models—such as the TrueConnect program with which Prosperity Works partners—and equitable loans can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin. Loans made at the current interest rate cap of 175% can quickly thrust LI borrowers into an inescapable debt trap.
New Mexico has one of the highest interest rate caps on storefront loans in the country, and more than 85% of high-interest lenders in New Mexico are subsidiaries of large, out-of-state companies. Moreover, triple digit interest rates hit communities of color and members of Tribes and Pueblos the hardest; 65% of lenders in New Mexico are located within 15 miles of Native populations. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being extracted from LI families and leaving our state each year because of predatory lenders.
Reducing the interest rate cap from 175% to an all-inclusive 36% is timelier than ever—as is embracing more equitable lending alternatives, like TrueConnect, for large-scale employers.
Employers across New Mexico have adopted TrueConnect, including:
With no cost or risk to the employer and no credit check for the employee, these payroll-deduction loans of up to $5,000 have helped employees address short-term emergencies and reduce financial stress—and many are offered at far less than 36% APR.
Reducing the interest rate cap to an all-inclusive 36% is an equitable path toward helping ensure the socioeconomic solvency of LI households across New Mexico, especially as we collectively rebuild our state post-COVID.
Prosperity Works Staff