New Web Resource for Native Financial Educators


In April, First Nations Development Institute and First Nations Oweesta Corporation announced the launch of a new financial education web portal at It serves as a resource center for Native financial education practitioners and educators.

The site contains our suite of financial education curricula, downloadable instructor guides, trainer tools, research and publications, and additional materials. The website also contains links to the My Green campaign, the website, and videos and materials that can assist financial educators.

All resources will be in a centralized location and will address topics such as Minor’s Trust Accounts (training resources, research, etc.), an online curriculum about investing for Native youth, and supplemental training resources. These efforts were funded by the Rose Foundation and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

First Nations Keynotes at Seminole Conference

The Native Learning Center affiliated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida invited First Nations Development Institute to present at its Fifth Annual Summer Conference – Strengthening Tribal Communities Into the Future – in Hollywood, Florida, on June 5, 2013.

First Nations Senior Program Officer Montoya Whiteman (Cheyenne-Arapaho) spoke during a general session to approximately 150 conference attendees. She discussed First Nations’ history and purpose, the organization’s current My Green financial education campaign, and the Building Native Communities Financial Series, specifically A Journey to Financial Empowerment.

Montoya Whiteman

Montoya noted that the opportunity to share First Nation’s work in this type of environment reinforces the importance of collaboration, and provides insight into demonstrated strategies, tools and research activities.  “It also highlights the valuable resources that are free to Native communities and the public, and which are available through our First Nations website,” she added.

To learn more about research models and publications, visit and click on the “Knowledge Center” tab, or simply click here.

At First Nations, Montoya currently supports the organization’s Strengthening Native American Nonprofits Program through technical assistance, training, site visits, institutes, and webinars for improving nonprofit capacity and organizational effectiveness. She implements several U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women grants, as well the Housing and Urban Development One CPD Technical Assistance grant. Most recently, she has taken on responsibility for overseeing a new project that will expand First Nations’ work to urban Indians and organizations, beyond its normal focus on rural and reservation-based Native communities.

Trainers Are Trained to ‘Build Native Communities’

In January 2013, First Nations concluded another successful Building Native Communities train-the-trainer event in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We were joined by many of our friends from the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST), along with a high school financial-education teacher and representatives from tribal housing programs.  It’s all part of our mission to provide financial education to Native American people so they can be financially empowered and better control their financial destinies.

As part of our work funded by FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Nations provides Building Native Communities train-the-trainer events. First Nations often partners with the Office of the Special Trustee to conduct the train-the-trainer workshops.  The goal of these workshops is to provide training for OST Fiduciary Trust Officers and other employees, and high school teachers who teach financial education to predominantly Native American students.  First Nations is partnering with OST officers because they often provide financial education resources to their clients, many of whom are the recipients of Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts or other tribal trust programs.  In an ongoing partnership with high school teachers in McKinley County, New Mexico, First Nations also reached out to teachers who have participated in other First Nations youth financial-education programs such as the Invest Native online challenge and the Crazy Cash City reality fair.

At the recent training, we had 10 OST officers from all across the country, a high school teacher from McKinley County, and five other tribal employees from the Pueblo of Laguna and Pueblo of Nambe.  The two-and-a-half day event took place at the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indian’s headquarters in Albuquerque.  It served as an introduction to the Building Native Communities suite of workbooks and training materials including Financial Skills for Families participant workbook, 4th edition, and the Investing for the Future workbook.  The train-the-trainer workshop also served as a forum for financial educators to share ideas, resources, and experiences.

On the final day of the training, participants took part in First Nations’ money reality fair, the “$pending Frenzy,” which is designed to address the needs of Native American youth who will be receiving a large tribal per-capita or minor’s trust payment.  The experiential learning model is designed to give kids a trial run at what it’s like to have a large sum of money and give them a chance to practice making smart spending decisions. The purpose of the simulation was to demonstrate to participants how to disseminate financial education topics in a fun and interactive way, and learn how the workshop could be offered to adult participants, as well.

Additionally, on the final day, the participants were required to practice-teach some of the lessons they learned over the past two days of training.  On participant evaluations, many stated that this task was especially helpful, including one person who claimed: “It was very helpful to have us teach a practice session. It brought up issues we might not have anticipated when teaching a course for the first time.”

Many of the participants are already making plans to use the skills and information they acquired at the training.  Some of these activities include facilitating a $pending Frenzy for high school students, making use of a presentation on managing expenses and modifying it for a youth financial fair presentation, and a housing entity employee creating informational materials for one-on-one counseling sessions.

“The training was packed with valuable information and it was a very engaging learning environment,” noted one participant on an evaluation form.

By Benjamin Marks, Research & Program Officer