The ANA Messenger: The Economic Development Issue
Native CDFI Sustainability Project
This is a two year project serving the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in Texas; Chi Ishobak, Inc in Michigan; First Ponca Financial, Inc in Nebraska, and the Crow Tribe Economic Development Department in Montana.
Key Project Staff
The project is staffed by Executive Director Chrystel Cornelius – who is joined by Kristi Coker-Bias, Senior Programs Advisor, Jaci Ree, Program Manager and Chasity Savage, Contract Consultant.
Project Goal and Objectives
The main project objective is to provide training and technical assistance to these emerging Native CDFI organizations that will lead to long-term sustainability.
First Nations Oweesta Corporation, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Chi Ishobak, Inc, First Ponca Financial, and the Crow Tribe Economic Development Department are partnering on a project designed to build capacity and increase the sustainablity of the four Native CDFI partners. As the Native CDFI intermediary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation has received requests from these partners to provide a program of training and technical assistance to help the organizations put the infrastructure and plans in place, leading to their long-term sustainability. The goal of this project is two-fold: strengthen and increase the capacity of the four Native CDFI partner organizations to provide financial products and services to their community, leading to certification by the CDFI Fund; and create stronger and more sustainable organizations now and in the future by developing a capitalization plan charting a course for their financial stability. After just completing year one of the grant, each partner has a capitalization plan in place and has been certified in the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families training. In completing year two, each partner will be certified by the CDFI Fund. Throughout the grant, First Nations Oweesta Corporation has provided training and technical assistance as needed specifically for each partner organization, which ranges from assistance with review of developmental services, review of underwriting practices, assessment and recommendations for the current and potential loan pipelines, development of lending policies and procedures, identifying developmental services partnerships and resources to fully implement developmental services within the community, and the creation of organizational documents such as Articles of Incorporation, Charter, By-Laws, Loan Policies, and review and revision of personnel and financial management policies and procedures.
In achieving these project goals, we will assist the organizations with reaching their overall community goal, which is the need for strong, sustainable CDFIs to help grow local Native economies and lift individuals and families out of poverty. With the provision of financial literacy efforts in various venues throughout Indian Country we also witness, with the delivery of these services, Native individuals are now accessing the products and services from conventional banking institutions for the very first time. Native CDFIs have a requirement for development services to be provided, in conjunction with their lending activities, the introduction and pre-requisite for their clientele to open checking and saving accounts have greatly increased and bolstered partnerships within the community with conventional banking and depository institutions nationwide. As a direct result of lending and development services offered by these Native CDFIs in these communities, strides are being make in the area of asset building and wealth creation for Native people. We can see increase in these communities in the form of job creation, homeownership, established businesses, home improvement projects, and Native youth and adults reaching their financial goals.
First Nations Oweesta Corporation strives to help build and maintain strong, sustainable Native CDFIs throughout the nation. Through the financial education within Native communities, our members now believe their dreams and goals are attainable.
Our advice to future grantees with similar projects
This project requires constant contact with the clients, to ensure the organization receives the maximum amount of technical assistance in building the foundation for their emerging CDFI. The staff communicating with clients should be very affluent within the CDFI field and have experience running and maintaining a CDFI within the current industry.