When Edward Nunez speaks, students listen.
Nunez, who oversees Freedom Credit Union‘s financial literacy program, talks frequently to students in Springfield and Holyoke. Like Nunez, many are Latino.
“The fact that these kids are getting the message from an individual that kind of resembles them lends credence to the message,” he said. “I think it’s much more impactful.”
Nunez was born in the Bronx section of New York City, but moved to Springfield as a child with his mother. He volunteered as a teller at the UMass Five Credit Union while attending UMass Amherst. Nunez began his full-time career in banking with the former Fleet National Bank, where he worked for four years.
He joined Freedom Credit Union in 2002, as a member service representative. He was promoted to branch manager, then IRA administrator, business development officer and, most recently, senior business development officer.
Nunez oversees the credit union’s partnership with local companies who offer membership in the credit union as an employee benefit.
“It doesn’t cost the company a thing,” he explained. “We give their employees incentives to bank with us – cash incentives to open accounts, discounts on certain loans, higher rates on CDs and retirement accounts.”
Nunez is in charge of the credit union’s financial literacy program, which has reached students in more than 15 schools in Western Massachusetts. The program teaches students from kindergarteners to high school seniors important aspects of personal finance – from saving money to applying for a car loan.
“It’s critically important to stay on top of our credit,” he said. “I tell them, even if you’re renting an apartment, they’re going to check your credit. It affects so many different aspects of your life.
“I’m a homeowner,” he tells students. “I was able to accomplish many things in life and provide for my kids.”
Nunez and his wife, Yaniza, have three children: Victoria, 17, Trinity, 11, and Ethan, 7.
He chairs the Franklin Hampshire County Regional Employment Board, and is active in local schools.
“The credit union philosophy in general is something I really, really buy into,” he said. “Looking out for their members’ best interests and just working for a financial institution with local ties, and a local, nonprofit board of directors who really put their members’ best interests first – I love it.”