Financial Tools and Resources

Financial Tools and Resources


Good afternoon and welcome to “Financial Tools
and Resources for Low Income Individuals: Tools
for the Path to Prosperity.” My name is Rondelle Clay. I am the Regional
Director for the Eastern Region Training and
Technical Assistance Center. I’m a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate from the Enemy Swim
District on the Lake Traverse Reservation. I’ve
been a Director for the Eastern Region T & TA Center for ANA for the last 14 years. My
background is primarily in education. I’ve worked
with infants all the way up to adults during my career. So, enough about me, let’s go ahead and
get started. Our topics for discussion today are America
Saves Week, earned income tax credits, and
programs providing financial tools and resources in community-based settings, specifically native
community-based settings. Now, our topic for
today was not a random choice. February 23rd-28th is the America Saves Week
where the promotion of good savings behavior
and getting the word out about savings being providing a good safety net during an economic
crisis and also allowing folks to save for
unexpected emergencies so they don’t get stressed out over not having the money available
to deal with whatever that emergency may be.
ANA embraces savings as a way of making native people self-sufficient. However, before we
get in to ANA’s program around savings, let’s look
at another issue that influenced our choice of the topics. Its tax season everyone and I know
everyone’s just looking forward to filing their tax
returns. So let’s start off with the Earned Income Tax
Credit. The Federal Income Tax Credit for people
who work and earn low to modest incomes, those who qualify and claim the credit could have one of
the three outcomes listed: They may pay less tax,
pay no tax, or actually get a refund. And unfortunately this is one of the Federal
Income Tax Credits that hasn’t really caught on for
some reason. It’s advertised, but people just don’t seem to take advantage of it. So let’s look at how
you go about qualifying. EITC is for workers
whose incomes do not exceed the following limits in 2014 and they give four different limits
depending on whether you’re married with
children or not, because even if you don’t have children you could qualify. Three or more children
and married filing jointly, the household income
could be $52,427; if there is only one adult in the household $46,997. For two children, filing jointly $49,186; or $43,756
for a single adult in a household. One child, $43,900 or $38,500 and then for a
household with no children, married, filing jointly is
$20,020; and a single person individual would be $14,590. And your investment income has to be
less than $3,350. There are some specific rules
around children, qualifying the number of children that you have. There is a special IRS Publication
596 that explains and helps you work out whether
all your children qualify or not. How do you find out if you qualify? An Earned
Income Tax Credit Assistant is an online tool on
the IRS website. It’ll help you determine qualifications for going back all the way to 2012.
Just below that we have the full URL address to
get to the Assistant so that you can check. You qualifications for going back all the way to 2012.
Just below that we have the full URL address to
get to the Assistant so that you can check. You can always go back and claim the credit on an
amended return so please visit the website. Now, you must file a tax return and it’s not too late
to claim, like I said for going all the way back to
2011, if you qualify. Keep in mind that the qualifying rates vary from year to year. But it’s
highly recommended that you can either do the
research yourself on the IRS website or check to see if your community has a VITA program. VITA
program is a volunteer income tax assistance
program that brings trained tax preparers into the community to assist low income individuals and
families in preparing their tax returns. Preparing
tax returns can be overwhelming, especially today. There are so many issues you have to be aware
of—the Affordable Care Act, for one. There are
health insurance questions on the tax return this year. If you don’t know anything about the special
conditions set forth in the Affordable Care Act for
Alaska Natives and American Indians it’s important that you find out. To find out more about
that, and the requirements, there is a website
listed on our “Resource” page which we will display at the end of the webinar during the
question and answer period. So please keep an
eye out for that. As far as VITA goes, ANA has teamed up with the
Office of Community Services, and specifically
their Assets for Independence Program in order to develop a new initiative that’s called the Native
Asset Building Initiative and I guess I shouldn’t say
it’s new because it’s been around for several years now. What the Native—and we call it NABI
—what NABI provides is a way for native
communities to develop their own asset building programs using Individual Development Accounts
or IDAs. This program assists low income
individuals or families to develop financial assets that will help them further their education, buy a
home, or start a business. What is important
about the program is it’s not just about saving money. Participants in the program receive
financial literacy training, financial counseling and
other support services to help participants get on a path to financial independence and the VITA
program happens to be one of the programs that
are typically offered for NABI grantees. I would like to introduce to you to our first
presenter. Our first presenter is Lakota Mowrer.
She is the Assistant Director at Four Bands Community Fund. In this role, Lakota supports the
leadership of Four Bands and establishes new
and fosters existing partnerships, leads and manages efforts to reach organizational goals.
Lakota is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne
River Sioux Tribe. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts
in Sociology. Upon graduation, she joined Teach
for America and taught on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation at Todd County High School. Lakota
obtained her Masters in Social Work from
Washington University in St. Louis with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian
Studies. Lakota individualized her course of study
to concentrate on Economic Security and Social Development through Life Courses of American
Indians. So let me turn this over to Lakota. Hi, everybody. Thanks for being on the webinar.
And thanks for having me, Administration for
Native Americans.
0:11:19.033,0:11:19.000 The title of my presentation and just to kind of
jump off what Rondelle mentioned, we do provide
those similar services that she began the presentation or this webinar with, with the EITC
and the VITA site and I’ll try to touch on that and
additionally Four Bands Community Fund is also a NABI grantee of the Native Assets Building
Initiative so if there’s any questions at the end of
this, I’d be happy to answer offline or online any questions. Today I’m just going to talk briefly about
developing Native American entrepreneurship
and helping tribal economic growth. Next slide, please. I’m not sure if folks on the line are familiar with the
CDFI industry which is—stands for Community
Development Financial Institutions, but I’ll just give a brief background, it’s always good for a
refresher. An overview of the industry is that in
1994, there was an act, it was a bipartisan act passed by Congress, it was called the Riegle
Community Development and Regulatory
Improvement Act which said that there needed to be sort of more services to low and underserved
communities and that also mandated that there
be a study done in native communities to see sort of some of the barriers for access to capital. So
finally in 2001 they published the Native American
Lending Study which revealed some of the things that we’re all familiar with: Native Americans were
having a hard time getting access to capital, they
found financial institutions to provide a lot of barriers and some of the reservations actually
didn’t even have financial institutions or
communities serving natives. So the Department of Treasury set aside specific funds which funded
what my organization does, so it’s called the
NACA—you can see it here on my slide—it’s Native American CDFI Assistance Fund. So each
year we apply to the Department of Treasury to
receive funds to go into our revolving loan fund and then we can support, you know, any sort of
entrepreneurship ideas in our community and do
loans through that fund and then it just revolves back in as they pay it back. If you can see on the
map, I know there’s a lot of people on the call; I
tried to produce a good visual of where some of the CDFIs are located across the United States.
Four Bands is also part of the Native CDFI
Network, so I can give you a larger map of this if you want, a better graphic if you would like that at
the end of the webinar. Okay, next slide please. Just to be clear, in CDFI, the F does stand for
“financial” which I sort of mentioned. But the
primary activity of CDFI is lending and providing financial services. In our community and in all
CDFI communities, we have to choose a target
market that we can serve and within that market we have to develop financial products to meet that
market. We do take higher risks on our loans,
often times the clients that come to us have been denied by regular financial institutions and so it
takes a lot of technical assistance to get our
client’s loan ready, but it’s what we do and it’s a part of our mission. Next slide. And as you all are aware, there are very unique
conditions in Indian Country when it comes to
lending and supporting folks getting access to capital. We do have an underdeveloped
economy, most of us. It’s really heavily slated into
government, usually, and private, I guess, more so government controls most of the economy. I know
here on our reservation our anchor institutions
include the school system run by a Bureau of Indian Education, we have an Indian Health
Service which is also governmental, and then
you’ve got your tribal government so there’s not a lot of private economy. We know that ownership of
land in Indian Country is more complex which
leads to collateral issues when you’re trying to lend and then it also makes collections a bit more
difficult when you have to insure that your tribal
courts have the proper infrastructure to support collecting which I could speak for days on, but I
can save that for another webinar. Next slide. So just a little bit about Four Bands Community
Fund. We are a Native Community Development
Financial Institution. We were incorporated in 2000. Our first loan was done in 2002 and, you
know, we’re sitting here in our close to 15th year.
Our mission is to create economic opportunity, to build strong and sustainable small businesses
and increase financial capability for assets and
wealth. Next slide. A little bit about us if you’re not familiar with
Cheyenne River Reservation. We are in north
central South Dakota; up there in the purple part of this map is where our reservation is located in
the state of South Dakota. We are in Dewey and
Ziebach counties and Ziebach was at one point listed as the poorest in the United States, I think it
kind of fluctuates between us and Pine Ridge
Shannon County. So I don’t think we hold that title anymore, but it just goes year to year. 80% of our
population is Native American on the reservation,
but unfortunately about 1% of the businesses are native owned so we’ve got a lot of work to do to
develop that sector. We do have a huge
geographic region and people generally travel 50 to 100 miles for services or employment. So cars
are essential in this community and methods of
transportation. We do have a pretty high unemployment rate and, you know, different
statistics show it, but the Census recently showed
it at 80%. We think it’s closer to 47%, but either way it’s higher than the United States average.
Next slide. This is a little bit about what we’re able to
accomplish with the sort of suite of services that
Four Bands provides, so I’m just throwing a lot of numbers at you. But, you know, considering the
amount of poverty we have in our community,
they’re pretty profound numbers and speak to the strength of our community and what we do. We
have been able to disperse over 965 loans within
our community which is about $8.4 million deployed so that’s what’s circulating in our
economy right now. We have created or
expanded about 175 businesses and from that 500 jobs were either created or retained. We
have a—this is the Technical Assistance side that
I’m talking about—but we have about 417 people who graduated from a business development
class that we call CREATE. They take a six week
course and graduate from that and have their business plan ready to begin to implement that in
the community. We also do youth
entrepreneurship to get the kids exposed to jobs and working and we had about 165 kids complete
that. There’s also a match-savings component
which we use our NABI grant to help fund. We have total served about or just in general in the
year 2013, we served 828 customers on the
reservation and I think our population is close to 8,000 so we touched quite a few folks a year
which we average about 479 clients a year. Next
slide. So lots of times when you’re looking for funding
people ask you what you’re “theory of change” is
and when you talk about the CDFI industry, it’s not just the lending. Four Bands grew out of this
theory of change model where we believe our
community first needs to be educated and develop financial capability and you see it at the
top of the arrow, there. Educate, first, which
includes all of our Technical Assistance and Financial Management classes which I’ll go into
depth here a little bit more. The next level, after
you get folks educated and up to par with things, we can go ahead and get them loan-ready and
finance them through our Revolving Loan Fund.
And next after that point, you sort of got to work and incubate those businesses and keep them in
business. There’s a lot of things that go into
maintaining a business, including Financial Management and some of our…most of our clients
actually, you know, nobody went off and got an
MBA and are ready to manage businesses but they’ve got the passion and the drive so we
continue to provide and incubate to small
businesses on the reservation after they’ve received financing. And then we go on a national
level and just advocate for different support
systems that are needed in Indian Country and we do a lot of advocacy with our own tribal
government, like I mentioned, building up the
infrastructure of our tribal court systems, etc. So this is our theory of change model and I think most
CDFIs sort of go through this system. Next slide. So speaking about education and sort of the
theme of this webinar, I just wanted to mention that
you know we really view credit as an asset. We have a lot of clients that come through our doors
and actually have insufficient credit. Our financial
institutions, we have three of them on the reservation; none of them reported to credit
bureaus so even if folks were good loan clients it
wasn’t hitting their credit report and they weren’t able to get access to financing off the reservation
or even just get a car loan. So here we started
with seeing credit as an asset and building credit scores is really important to us. So we have–keep
track of that and to date we’ve had 199 people
reach asset-based savings goal. We do provide a lot of financial education and we have our own
curriculum here that we require each person to
access any of our products, they have to take a self-study course called “Credit When Credit is
Due” and so we’ve had 684 people complete that.
We do have a match-savings program. We do a regular, traditional IDA program, Individual
Development Account, where people can save for
an asset including education, homeownership, or business. And then we also have the youth match-
savings program where they can save for
education and about—we’ve given about or matched about $455,000 in matching funds to
support those goals. And then we also conduct
the VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax site. We know a lot of our community members need access to
free tax services so we’re able to, to date, file
2,451 tax returns which means about a total refund returning to our community of about $3.9
million so we’re pretty proud of that. We also do a
lot of workforce development so you can create and grow entrepreneurship but if you can’t get
folks into jobs, you sort of run into a dead end so
we’ve developed partnerships with the tribe and local businesses to expand those opportunities.
Next slide. One of the most unique opportunities we’ve had, I
guess, in that workforce development is the
recognition from our tribe to provide personal finance training for their employees and I’m not
sure if folks on the line have heard or have similar
situations but our tribe allows payroll deductions to happen. So if you’re a tribal employee you can
payroll deduct and it’s supposed to be only up to
50% of your paycheck. However, they’ve had a few people abuse that which puts families in
jeopardy if they’re only able to take home a $10
paycheck at the end of the pay week, and that’s not—you can’t pay your bills and can’t buy
groceries on $10. And so the tribe had the
forethought and the foresight to see that they needed to provide personal finance training to
their employees. So we were able to be selected
as the provider of that training. We had about 500 tribal employees to train and what I’ve produced
here, on the slide, is a little bit of a how-to guide.
I’ve been asked a few times about how to do this, or how to get your tribe to participate in
something like this. So the first thing I would
advise is just selecting your community partners and so we had a good relationship with our
Administrative Officer with the Tribe and a local
bank, they’re First Financial Bank. So we got our partners on board so that we could get help in
doing the training because it’s not cheap and the
next level was to create a budget. I wanted to be able to gain money or at least not lose money on
this with giving my staff, you know, taking their
hours provided to this type of service. So we did a budget, it was kind of new for the tribe to be
asked to pay for a service but they were willing
partners and then we also got the private bank to donate and offset costs, as well. We selected a
national curriculum and of course we had to adjust
it for a reservation context, but that was fairly easy I think we’re all used to doing that. And then we
created a pre- and post-test just to measure
content mastery. Because we wanted to continue this partnership and we wanted to show the value
of the personal finance training so we really
needed to show some results and I think the best, the most important thing for sustainability of a
program. Next slide, please. So here’s some of the results and I apologize for
the kind of weird graph but what the really bright
red color is the pre-test scores that shows kind of their mastery of knowledge and we did 16
sessions and we had about 30 people in each
session and we did it over about a two-month time period, but if you can see where it grows, the
darker red shows the growth that they had at the
post-test time so we’re pretty proud of that. Overall we averaged a mastery of content of
about 55% and that was only after 3 hours of
training. So, oh I mean sorry they started with 55% mastery and we grew it to 80% and so this was a
good piece of evidence to show tribes the
investment that personal finance training has if you’re willing to invest in it. And there was a good
response to it and they want to continue doing this
for new employees and sort of the turnover that they have within their tribe. Next. So anything else, I guess, if I would just say
implications for future practice when doing this:
Be sure that you know your community is ready for this. You know, it took 15 years for us to prime our
market for them to realize the importance of
personal finance and I think that that was easy and, alright it wasn’t easy, it took some time. And
then ensuring that you have the opportunity to
generate some revenue and that you’re not losing money on something like this, plus if you value it
with a monetary amount it seems to
psychologically invest people in the training more. And then just seek opportunities to increase the
local effect of your strategies. You know, maybe
there’s another organization like a hospital that needs this type of training so continue to look for
that and show the results from your first training,
but it should be a community-wide approach. And the last is just speaking a little bit about the
wraparound services provided. This is Kali. She
was one of the youth interns that I had talked about. She completed an internship at a youth
project and she participated in those match-
savings programs and received similar personal finance training as what those tribal employees
did. She was awarded a scholarship from Four
Bands for her outstanding work at high school and then she was able to take about $6,300 from all of
her match-savings programs and apply it toward
a college fund and so she’s scheduled to graduate in 2018 from a local–our state college
and her intentions are to come back to the
reservation to help kids so we really enjoyed having her and she’s sort of the poster child for
wraparound services and emphasis on personal
finance training and savings goals. So I can answer questions at the end of the slide,
but here’s a little bit of my contact information. The
website, like I mentioned, the Native CDFI Network, and also South Dakota Indian Business
Alliance is another organization we partner with
across the state. So please feel free to contact me or ask questions at the end. Thank
you. Thank you, Lakota. That was a great presentation.
It is time to move on to our next presenter and, of
course, he can’t talk until I unmute him. Kadem Fisher is a Community and Economic
Development professional who has worked with
South Dakota communities and reservations since 2009. He received certificates of
completion in “Weaving Your Financial Future”
through South Dakota State University, “Building Native Communities”, “Financial Skills for
Families” through First Nation Oweesta
Corporation, and is an accredited credit coach. Native Communities”, “Financial Skills for
Families” through First Nation Oweesta
Corporation, and is an accredited credit coach. Try to say “accredited credit coach” three times
fast. His work has primarily been conducted in
collaboration with various organizations on the Pine Ridge Reservation and also with contractors
and subcontractors and around South and North
Dakota. Kadem’s strengths are enhancing and utilizing the local assets to establish community-
driven solutions for local needs. So I’m going to
turn it over to Kadem. It’s all yours. In fact I’m going to give you the keyboard because I know
you need to use that. going to give you the keyboard because I know
you need to use that. Well, thank you very much, Rondelle, for that
introduction and I’d like to also thank the Eastern
Region Training and Technical Assistance Center for the opportunity today to talk a little bit about
Lakota Funds and some of the programs and
services that we offer, here, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Lakota Funds Incorporated is a non-
profit community-based organization that
provides multiple programs to promote economic development for the Oglala Lakota people of the
Pine Ridge Reservation. TLFI offers business
loans packaged with Technical Assistance, Business Management Assistance, Marketing,
Business Management education to enrolled
members of the tribe residing on the reservation who operate or are starting businesses. Just to
give you a little bit of an idea of where I’m at and
where a lot of our services and products are offered: We are the 8th largest reservation in the
United States consisting of 3,469 square miles
and this includes all of Shannon County and parts of Jackson and Bennett County and the
southwestern portion of South Dakota and what
we consider is this is primarily our service area. Lakota Funds was certified in 1992 as a
Community Development Financial Institution
designated to provide lending and assistance for businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This
certification brings additional resources to the
community in the area of lending. businesses on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This
certification brings additional resources to the
community in the area of lending. Both designations pinpoint Lakota Funds
primarily the community as native entrepreneurs,
both existing and potential. The Lakota Funds connects to this community and the total
reservation in multiple ways in addition to formal
designations. The organization does a whole in connection by providing a variety of programs for
children, youth, and adults to encourage families
to become financial-literate and to build assets for goal-oriented regular savings, credit-building, and
wide use of credit amongst other strategies. Staff
and volunteers provide free tax preparation for low-income families and encourage investment of
refunds into long-term benefits like education or
starting business. These developmental activities are necessary before any individual can consider
starting a business. Responsible lending
combined with Technical Assistance to facilitate success for start-ups, as well as existing
businesses are the primary connection to the
Oglala world of business. In addition, the Lakota Funds board and staff are almost completely all
enrolled tribal members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe
and often times connect with their neighbors as volunteers, neighbors, friends especially to listen
to their concerns and hopes for the Oglala Nation
and their families. Lakota Funds plays a vital role in the economic
resurgence that is happening on the Pine Ridge
Reservation by implementing a combination of asset-building and lending programs to build
wealth within the communities that we serve. The
slide that you’re looking at, here, are some of the services that we actually offer. The sustainable
effects of our programs lie in the holistic approach
we take to permanently breaking the cycle of poverty. For example, at Lakota Funds our
business loan clients also received training on
how to start and operate a business along with individualized success coaching. We also offer a
suite of products specifically designed to help our
clients build assets and you’ll notice this in the “Personal Growth & Asset Building” column: The
Credit Builder Loan, financial literacy classes,
home buyer education, a match-savings program or Individual Development Program as we’ve
often heard them called, free tax preparation
through our volunteer income tax assistance, VITA site and housing programs. Just as a
example and to play off what Rondelle has talked
about with our VITA sites, I have some statistics from our last year’s–we’re actually a volunteer
income tax preparation site. Some of the results
that we’ve had in 2013 is we prepared 328 returns, $431,648 in total EITC, and that averages
out to about $1,316 per return. $847,552 in total
refunds throughout 2013 and that’s an average of $2,584 per return. The estimated
savings in tax preparation dollars, that means
money that would’ve went off of our reservation to a preparer, H&R Block, let’s say for example,
we’ve managed to keep about $70,520 dollars of
tax money here on our reservation. Often our clients start in there and will work at this
so I can kind of show you how this kind of flows
through our organization. Most often our clients start in the personal growth and asset-building
category in order to prepare for successful
business ownership. In addition, we also invest in our youth by offering many of the same asset-
building products. Our most recent program is the
Child Development Account Program and it’s funded by the Northwest Area Foundation which
targets children as young as kindergarten. I’ll
actually explain a little bit more about these programs with some case studies in a moment.
We believe that all of these components and
program areas are intertwined. For example, you cannot achieve long-term sustainable results
without investing in your youth population. You
also cannot have a stable local business environment without first building the financial
skills of your population. So here is a quick chart
and I’ll go over these really quick, I’m actually wanting to get to a live demonstration of the most
recent thing that we have going on with our online
learning center. This is our loan portfolio and as you can see from 2008 up until 2012 we’ve
measured a number of microloans, credit builder
and consumer loans. You’ll note that we’re gradually on the increase and which is a good
thing. So to get a little more in-depth of the micro and
small business loans, as you can see in 2008
we’ve approved $335,000 in micro small business loans, as compared to 2012 when we
reached $564,000 in micro and small business
loans. And when we look at these loans, we look at these loans as employment opportunities not
only for the business owner themselves, but any
other employees taken on through the start-up stage, expansion stage. And really providing jobs
in an area that is heavily a lot of unemployment.
You might say as Lakota mentioned that we’re CDFIs, as well, so we deal with a lot of high-risk
lending and like Lakota also said we often get
clients that were turned down by traditional lending institutions. Even considering that, through
the work that we provide, our Technical
Assistance, our success coaching, really sets us apart and really we have to credit that to the low
delinquency rates that encharge us that we can
actually handle a portfolio without a lot of loss. Our business, all of our business loans, even with
our asset-building, we always have the education
component. You’ll see that there’s been great need and great demand for the trainings that we
offer. A great increase from 2009 at 984 people
that actually attended our trainings and we’re actually pushing closer to the mid-2000s for 2014,
so we’ve had people even just attend our trainings
just to strengthen themselves in their personal lives by taking our financial literacy courses. We
work a lot with our Oglala Lakota College here
and the students that attend that college to help with budget and spending funds, as well. The jobs created or retained, this is a measure
that we get from the business and working with
the business owners as we provide TA throughout start-up, throughout expansion and whatever.
We’re able to get some hard concrete numbers
from those businesses and really pinpoint a number of jobs created or retained as a result
from our business loans. And also with our match-
savings program or IDA and I’ll talk a little bit more about that when we get into the success stories
here in a minute. In 2009 we had $32,000 in IDA
cash-outs, 2012 $119,000. IDA asset purchases, you know, Individual Development
Accounts, we want the saver to—the main thing is
creating a savings habit. And so we’ve measured the asset purchases in each one of the
goals of saving to either get a home, down
payment on a home, to further their education, and also to apply that money for a start-up
business. And as you can see from 2008 to 2012
we have 10 IDA home asset purchases, 20 in education and 26 in business. To demonstrate the on-the-ground effects of our
programs, I’m now going to share some of our
clients’ stories. And the first person I want to talk about is Denise Red Owl. So Denise Red Owl
was a previous IDA saver. She actually wanted to
get her son and grandson into our Child Development Account Program and this CDA
program is really the first of its kind on the Indian
reservation and it focuses on building the family core. Lakota Funds feeds each Child
Development Account with a $50 deposit and
matches that participating family’s deposits by a 3 to 1 ratio. In addition to participating children
and families take part in training and education to
provide a solid foundation that helps children understand the benefits of saving and how to be
responsible for their accounts. Starting in the first
grade children attend monthly lessons that include financial literacy education and child
development activities. Each family also attends
quarterly meetings where they participate in financial literacy and family budgeting activities.
So a couple of years ago, Denise Red Owl
participated in Lakota Fund’s match-savings program, our IDA account, where she learned
through a first-hand experience the value of
saving. So when she heard of Lakota Fund’s new Child Development Account program, a match-
savings program designed for children as young
as kindergarten, she jumped on the opportunity. Currently, Denise’s son Presley Red Owl at the
time of this picture aged 7 and grandson Sean
Janice age 6 are enrolled in the Child Development Account Program and on the way
towards saving for a brighter future. Denise at the
time explained that the boys are very excited about the program which was—has stimulated
their interests and concepts of money, banking,
and savings. She told them, she really had told them we need to teach them how to do their
financial stuff so they know what to do when they
grow up. She explained, you know, kids are like sponges they soak it right up. She also explained
to the boys that they’ll be making deposits into a
bank account to save for school and that they will go to classes to learn about money. Denise is
grateful that the Child Development Account
Program will give her son and grandson the knowledge they need to successfully manage
their money as adults. She explains that her
generation and her parents’ generation didn’t emphasize money management and didn’t know
how much about it. She quotes, “My parents just
spent money as soon as they got it, they didn’t think about savings.” Without this essential
knowledge, Denise—she actually ended up
getting into some financial trouble on her own. She recounts her personal experiences
explaining it as, “I got a credit card and went crazy
with it and I got some more and all the sudden I had bad credit because I couldn’t afford it.”
Although, Denise didn’t have the opportunity to
learn how to manage her finances at a young age she wishes her generation would have learned
about it sooner. Denise has learned from her
mistakes and has built her financial management skills through Lakota Fund’s match-savings
program and financial literacy classes. Now she’s
making a difference for the next generation by emphasizing the importance of wise resource
management to her children and grandchildren.
But the benefits of saving for young children don’t stop there. Denise is literally stopping the cycle of
poverty for her family. Children who have a
savings account are 7 times more likely to go to college and earn a four-year degree. Presley and
Sean even at the ages of 6 and 7 are in the
position to learn more, save more, and earn more than their parents and grandparents. Another story I’d like to share with you all is Katie
Hunter. Katie was a business saver in an
Individual Development Account Program. She completed financial literacy and business courses
and she actually used her savings and match to
start the first ever dollar store on Pine Ridge Reservation. Our Individual Development Account
Program is a match-savings program that is
based on our traditional Lakota value of wise resource management. The program provides
participants with a capital, incentive, and support
to achieve their financial goals and to build a brighter future for the family. Once enrolled in the
IDA program our participant opens their saving
account and makes minimum monthly deposits of as little as $25 for at least six months and up to a
maximum savings time of up to two years. Lakota
Funds deposits and this kind of just depends on each one, $3 for every $1 at the time when Katie
was saving it was a three to one match so we
would put in $3 for every $1 she put into this savings account. Adult participants can deposit
up to $1,440 and Lakota Funds deposits up to
$4,320 for a grand total, a cash-out of $5,760 to be used towards asset-specific purchases. Youth
participants can deposit up to $720 and Lakota
Funds matches up to $2,160 for a grand total of $2,880 for cash-out. Upon completion of the
program participants can withdraw their savings
to obtain post-secondary education, start or expand a business. Adult participants can also
choose to purchase a home. We’ve had our
adults that went through the home IDA asset purchase, we’ve seen them work with another
local program, Mazaska, which is a mortgager
here on the reservation and they use that IDA monies as their 1% or their down
payment on their new home. So very useful. All
participants, no matter what they’re saving for, attend monthly support meetings and complete
asset-specific training. So to talk a little bit more
about Katie Hunter, she completed her IDA program and after completing–and she was
actually a student while she was saving in the
Interior Design Program at South Dakota State University. She moved back to the Pine Ridge
Reservation and began looking for work. While
she knew she probably wouldn’t find employment with her field, she didn’t expect that her bachelor’s
degree would create a barrier to securing a job.
She quotes, “People just keep telling me they didn’t need an interior designer. They didn’t
understand that I had other skills, too.” So when
Katie discovered, at the time, she discovered her match-savings, when she was in her match-
savings program, she kind of changed up her
strategy. So she saw the asset-building program as a way for her to obtain start-up capital and
make her own job. Katie entered in to the match-
savings program with a clear objective in mind, to start a dollar store on the Rine Ridge Reservation.
She felt that a dollar store would be a win-win for
everybody. After saving for six months and partnering with the past employers for additional
investments, Katie opened Dollar Hunter, the first
ever dollar store on the reservation and that was in April of 2012. She is still currently operating
today. The majority of local residents have to
travel over a hundred miles to purchase items for everyday living. With already tight budgets travel
expenses can break a family budget. Now
residents can avoid excess travel costs and boost the local economy by purchasing goods and
supplies for their household, baby, pets, and
parties at the Dollar Hunter store. Katie thinks that being self-employed does have its perks, but
there are also many challenges to being a
business owner on the reservation. Finding a storefront to lease was difficult in itself. Now
balancing the high cost of rent while trying to keep
prices low is another challenge she’s facing now that she’s been open for some time. Reservation
—the infrastructure necessary to build a strong
retail market and the few spaces that are that she’s been open for some time. Reservation
—the infrastructure necessary to build a strong
retail market and the few spaces that are available ask outrageous prices. Katie and her
partner are exploring alternatives such as
purchasing or building a new location so they can continue to offer the lowest prices possible to
their customers. Katie explains that despite this challenge, she
wouldn’t change her situation. As a new mother
being self-employed gives her the option of bringing her child to work and getting her own
hours so that she can balance family and work.
She explains she doesn’t have to give up being a mother just so that she can work. She feels good
that she’s able to contribute financially to her
family while she provides much needed products for local residents. And one more story I have is of Dawney and Chris
Morrison. So almost 15 years ago, Lakota Funds
made history by creating the first Native American tax credit finance low-income housing project in
America. We coined it the Eagle Nest Housing.
This is located in Wombley, South Dakota here on our reservation. It’s comprised of 30 homes
ranging from 2 to 4 bedrooms on one acre lots.
Since 1997, Eagle Nest Housing has provided low-income families with affordable housing. Now
as the tax credit agreements are reaching
maturity, the current tenants have the opportunity to purchase their homes. For Dawney and Chris who have lived in their
home in the Eagle Nest Housing for six years this
is one of their wildest dreams that is coming true. Often times housing is a very big challenge here
and this is one of the things that they thought as
tenants that would never have – would come to being a reality. Her husband, Chris, once had
hundreds of acres of land that was left to him by
his mother, but sold it for a mere $250/acre because there just wasn’t anything he felt that he
could do with it. Because much of the Indian land
is held in trust by the federal government here on the reservation, it almost makes it impossible for
tribal members to build a home or to utilize their
lands for anything. The Morrisons were one of a handful of Eagle
Nest Housing tenants that attended a meeting
hosted by Lakota Funds at the start of the year to begin preparing for the transition from renter to
home owner. All tenants in the development have
been given the first right or refusal to purchase their homes when they go on the market and that
just happened in 2014, as well as the opportunity
to participate in a range of educational courses that will help them to become successful
homeowners. So the Morrisons are very excited and now they’re
looking forward to doing their own home
improvements. They’re really taking a step back from being renters and owning their homes and
so they’re excited about making it their own, and
personalizing it. They’re focusing on improving, they also prior to getting the opportunity to apply
for their home, they completed our financial
education and with the focus on improving their credit score. Next step is, they’re actually—we’re
working through a home preparedness course
which we also put on. Morrisons are the most proud of the fact that they’ll be able to leave a
legacy for their own two daughters. proud of the fact that they’ll be able to leave a
legacy for their own two daughters. And I also want to talk about the Lakota Federal
Credit Union. They received—this is—Lakota
Funds is actually sponsored in helping set up the Lakota Federal Credit Union which I’d like to
announce that they did receive their charter from
the NCUA in November of 2012. They’re the first and only federally insured financial institution on
our—the reservation. Their mission is to provide
quality financial services conveniently located at home, here, in a helpful, professional, respectful
manner to provide effective tools for its members,
the Oglala people, to save, plan, and provide for the future. Currently, Lakota Federal Credit Union
offers savings accounts, direct deposit, check
cashing, as well as other cash services and consumer loans. So in the first 16 weeks of
trainings, more than 550 new members opened
savings accounts, 110 of which were approved for loans totaling over $254,000.
So that just goes to show you how underserved
this area was prior to the Lakota Federal Credit Union opening its doors. So what are the possibilities for the future? Well
it’s only up to—it’s really—I like to say this in our
area, when we talk about reservations and we talk about Pine Ridge, even Cheyenne River, us being
the poorest or them being the poorest, we often
tend to give a negative view of ourselves or the outside has a negative view. As a person that
works with economic development, I explain it as
there’s just tons of opportunity, opportunity to develop, to grow, to work with a lot of the various
programs, to focus on one general idea and that’s
to make where we live a better place by providing opportunities. So what we’re pushing for is a bright, thriving
economy. We want good jobs at livable wages.
We want increased financial skills, increased wealth and assets. We want to provide more local
business services and we want to focus on
improving our infrastructure. With strategic investments, the possibilities for growing the local
economy, increasing wealth, and permanently
breaking the cycle of poverty on the Pine Ridge Reservation are endless. Well, I wanted to thank you all for giving me some
time for telling you a little bit about Lakota Funds
and what we do and the services that we offer. I would like anybody that wanted additional
information to go ahead and get a hold of me. You
can either email me at [email protected] and I really strongly suggest checking out our
online business education courses through the
Building Native Industry Institute, an ANA funded project, by visiting
lakotafunds.org/learningcenter. With that being
said, thank you for today and thank you for the opportunity to speak. That was a great presentation, Kadem, and I’m
sorry we didn’t get to go on and take a closer look
at all the hard work that you’ve done with your current ANA project. It’s very, very impressive,
folks, so if you do get a chance please do go visit
the Lakota Fund website and take a look at their business—online business classes.
We’re going to go to questions. We will take
questions for a few minutes. I’m going to move over to the “Resource” slide so you can take a
look at some of the websites that I have listed
there. If you have a—if you’re on the phone or over to the “Resource” slide so you can take a
look at some of the websites that I have listed
there. If you have a—if you’re on the phone or have a microphone on your computer, you can
raise your hand and we will go ahead and unmute
you so you can ask a question. Otherwise, if you’re not comfortable in asking the question
yourself you can certainly type the question into
the question box located on your control panel. Before we do that, there was one little thing that I
forgot to mention, as I was talking about the NABI
program and that is the Funding Opportunity Announcement is out for NABI. It is not due until
March 25th, so you have a little less than a month
to pull it together if you are interested. A NABI project is not an easy one to pull together as I’m
sure both Lakota and Kadem can tell you. It
requires partnerships and a lot of planning, but its well worth the impact that savings has both on the
overall reservation economy, as well as to the
individuals that participate, is just miraculous. For those of you who didn’t get slide
presentations, check in your junk box, junk mail, in
your email because the presentation was sent out to everybody, just before the webinar started so
you may not have seen it yet, but it is there. And if
you don’t, can’t find it, just go ahead and email me after the presentation. My email will be on the
follow-up email that comes or go onto the email
that you got when you registered, it also has my email address on it. Alrighty, well, since we don’t have any questions,
the resources that are listed are, of course, the
IRS website, CMS where you can get more information regarding the American Indian and
Alaska Native special provisions in the Affordable
Care Act. You can also get a copy of the NABI Funding Announcement which is this middle link,
here. The bottom, or the second from the bottom
link is more information about assets for independence and then the very bottom link is
some resources about running IDA programs. As
you all are aware, ANA hosts webinars on a independence and then the very bottom link is
some resources about running IDA programs. As
you all are aware, ANA hosts webinars on a regular basis. We are now doing them twice a
month. Webinars are going to be held every other
Thursday from 3-4 P.M. Eastern Time. Our next webinar will be March 12th and its concerning
starting a language program and the webinar
after that will be “How to Sustain a Language Program: Other Funding Sources.” So if you are
interested in language programs, please visit and
register for these. The registration will be up on the ANA webpage under the “Events” tab. If they
aren’t up now, they’ll be up—well the March 12th
registration is up, the March 26th will be up shortly. We want to thank you all very much for your
attendance today. This webinar has been
recorded. It will be made 508 compliant and then will be uploaded onto the ANA website under the
“Events” tab or go into the “Resources” tab and
type in ‘webinar’ and press ‘Enter’ and a list of recorded webinars should come up there. I really
want to thank both of our presenters today. They
did an absolutely excellent job. I really appreciate all the great information that they have given. Alright, everyone. Well thank you very much for
joining us. We really appreciate your attention.
We hope that you enjoyed our webinar today and again, thank you, thank you, thank you Lakota and
Kadem. You did an absolutely wonderful job. I
really appreciate you presenting for us today. That’s it for us this time, folks. Hopefully we will
see you on March 12th for “How to Start a
Language Program.” Take care. Have a good afternoon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *