Bold Aspirations BLOOM Award

Inaugural Bold Aspirations Bloom Award

2024 BLOOM Bold Aspirations

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA) is thrilled to share that the inaugural Bold Aspirations Bloom Award recipient is Wendy McBroom!

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona believes that a thriving Southern Arizona is only achievable through the collective commitment of individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofits to enact real, lasting change. The challenges we face in building a thriving community – from climate change to affordable housing to education – call for creative thinking and bold solutions. We are honored to recognize Wendy McBroom whose bold aspirations, activities, and commitment have made a significant contribution toward creating a thriving Southern Arizona and who embodies CFSA’s value of Community.

Wendy embodies CFSA’s value of community through her bold and transformative actions to enhance financial literacy and empowerment in Southern Arizona. Wendy is a Wildcat alum who took it upon herself to found and lead the Financial Freedom Club during her junior year at the University of Arizona. Still running and adeptly led by Wendy, this club now has five board members and a mission to help young people avoid the financial pitfalls of young adulthood through deep financial education and peer community. She is making bold moves to ensure today’s college community members are empowered with financial knowledge and tools to make wiser money decisions.

Wendy’s eyes light up when she speaks of financial literacy, and she beams when she hears back from a Tucson college student who has put into practice the learnings from the Financial Freedom Club. At the same time, she was also the driving force behind Take Charge Cats, a national affiliate program that teaches financial literacy to high school students. To this day she volunteers her time to participate in the annual showcase; her professors and other students greet her with the exuberance of a returning hero.

Wendy graduated from the University of Arizona in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Personal and Family Financial Planning and a minor in Non-Profit Entrepreneurship and somehow managed to obtain her Arizona Real Estate License as well. She was promptly accepted into one of the most prestigious Personal Finance Master’s Degrees in the country Kansas State University. One would think that with this combined powerhouse of degrees, certifications, and knowledge, Wendy would be off to the capital-earning investment races. She could easily have her pick of high-paying Financial Advising roles, but her sights were set on community empowerment.

“I have never had a student like Wendy. She is really exceptional and that’s not just because of her academic performance but it really is because of her ability to connect with people and network and bring groups together to really fulfill a vision she has. She is remarkable in that way,” says Victoria Ligon, Assistant Professor of Practice, Personal and Family Financial Planning at the University of Arizona.

Wendy was promptly hired by the Tucson IDA, with CEO Dre Thompson seeing within her the makings of a great community development champion. Without any prior experience in lending, Wendy created one of the most innovative, award-winning microfinance programs in the nation. The Avanza Empowerment Fund at Groundswell Capita is a revolutionary lending program for minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses in Tucson. Together with Dre, Wendy built from scratch a relationship-based lending program that broke down barriers such as credit score requirements and added supplementary support that includes business coaching, financial education, and technical assistance. Today, Wendy oversees that program, which is catching the attention of nonprofit lending leaders across the country.

Nic Dahl, Executive Vice President at Tucson IDA shared “Wendy is on a quest to teach and empower financial literacy in places where it’s not been done before with college students and areas of town and parts of the community where there have not been access to that type of information before.”

Since launching in July of 2023, Avanza has disbursed over $1.3M to 12 local businesses that would have been deemed “unbankable” by traditional underwriting standards. Because of the incredible wrap-around financial education and culturally competent business coaching, not a single payment has been missed in the program Wendy oversees. These impressive statistics are largely due to the relationship Wendy builds with the Avanza small business borrowers, each of which will tell you that Wendy took just as much time to get to know them as people and businesses, as she did examining their numbers.

Avanza borrowers, Financial Freedom Club members, and Take Charge Cats high school students – all part of the Southern Arizona community – regard Wendy as a reputable financial knowledge resource, a source of empowerment, and most importantly, a person who is in their corner and truly wants to see them financially literate, free, and empowered to pursue prosperity. While holding down these complex and challenging roles, Wendy continues to thrive in her graduate program. Her objective is to become a stronger community resource and reach more people, especially those who are overlooked and underrepresented, with a great depth of financial knowledge.

Wendy exemplifies CFSA’s value of community through her bold initiatives, steadfast commitment to inclusion, and transformative impact on financial literacy and empowerment in Southern Arizona. Her heart for people and financial empowerment efforts have created meaningful, lasting change, making her a deserving candidate for recognition and appreciation.

Join us in celebrating Wendy McBroom at CFSA’s Community Celebration on Thursday, April 25. Learn more here.