$pending Frenzy Kits Have Arrived!

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is very excited to announce the release of the highly anticipated $pending Frenzy kit! The kit comes with everything you need to host a successful financial reality fair that will help prepare Native American youth for their “Big Money” (also known as a minor’s trust payment). Several satisfied customers have already ordered kits and begun implementing the popular financial simulation event in their home communities.

“Demand for the $pending Frenzy has been huge since its inception about five years ago,” stated chief architect of the kit, financial education consultant Shawn Spruce. “Moreover, the new kits now make the program scalable, allowing us to reach a much wider audience of Native youth.”

The $pending Frenzy financial reality fair was designed by First Nations to offer youth expecting a large minor’s trust payment an opportunity to practice handling a substantial lump sum of money and to spend it wisely. In the simulation, teens are given $40,000 in fake money and are required to make informed spending decisions to purchase a car, a house, groceries and other items. Students can practice visiting a bank to cash their check and deposit a share of their money into savings, and are also given the opportunity to learn about investing a portion of their money.

Surveys from $pending Frenzy events held in Native communities across the nation have revealed that more than 90% of participants found the event useful and believed they could use the information from the event to assist them in managing their money.

Since the first pilot of the $pending Frenzy with Seneca Nation youth in 2011, First Nations has helped facilitate the financial simulation about two dozen times in 12 different states and 18 unique communities across the country. In total, nearly 1,400 Native youth have participated in the event and learned to better manage their minor’s trust payments. Tribes, community organizations, schools and others have been in… well, a frenzy for the simulation! To keep up with the demand of the $pending Frenzy, First Nations answered the call by producing an all-in-one, do-it-yourself kit.

The box kit comes with everything you need to host a successful simulation, complete with all booth materials, a facilitator’s guide, stacks of play money, a professional bill counter, budgeting cards, $pending Frenzy merchandise and more! The all-inclusive kit can be yours for $1,200 and is sent free of charge to your door.

To place an order or to ask a question about the kit, please contact Sarah Dewees by phone at (540) 371-5615 or email at sdewees@firstnations.org.

By Benjamin Marks, First Nations Senior Research Officer

Native Student-Parents Learning Financial Fitness

Native American high school students are learning the ropes of financial fitness in Gallup, New Mexico.

Recently, 19 student-parents in grades 9-12 took charge of their financial futures and visited Pinnacle Bank to open up Youth Savings Accounts (YSAs) for themselves and Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) for their young children. Bank representatives also walked students through how they could access their credit reports.

With generous funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is teaming up with longtime partner Gallup Central High School (Central High) to facilitate a multi-modal financial education program that includes opening savings accounts. First Nations is providing initial seed deposits of $50 for each of the accounts.

Part of a statewide initiative in New Mexico focused on providing support and education to pregnant and parenting teens, Central High houses the Graduation, Reality and Dual-Role Skills (GRADS) class for student-parents. Starting in the fall semester of the 2015-2016 academic year, GRADS students are now receiving lessons in financial topics such as safe banking products, budgeting and creating savings goals.

First Nations was interested in working with the GRADS program at Central High because of the unique opportunity to provide dual-generation support to Native American parents and their young children. Furthermore, past research by First Nations has discovered a large number of high-cost payday lending institutions in Gallup and the surrounding community that saturate the market with poor check-cashing and borrowing options. Young parents struggling with finances are especially vulnerable to these institutions.

Working with faculty at Central High, First Nations is implementing an initiative titled the Well-Being in Student Health and Financial Self-Sufficiency (WISHSS) that includes opening savings accounts in conjunction with financial education lessons for GRADS students. As part of the initiative, the GRADS program offers financial education in a variety of formats including guest lectures from financial experts, experiential learning events, as well as through a social media application that encourages good spending and savings decisions. The MoneyThink mobile app is designed like Instagram, whereby students are given challenges to snap pictures of items they are savings for or recently purchased. Fellow students can weigh in through comments and polls to determine if their classmate made a wise or not-so-savvy financial decision.

Between late August and early September 2015, the GRADS teacher shuttled groups of three to six students to local bank partner, Pinnacle Bank, to open up accounts for students and their children. In total, 19 students opened accounts for themselves with an additional 14 for their children (some students are expecting and will open up CSAs for their children once the babies are born). The initial deposit for both accounts was provided by First Nations, but students are expected to save and deposit at least $50 throughout the school year. A match of $50 will be provided to students who can meet their savings goals. After a few weeks, several student have already begun making contributions to their accounts!

The YSA and CSA accounts are currently custodial accounts, which require advanced consent from the custodian (First Nations) to make a withdrawal. Students will have a variety of options to take complete ownership of their accounts at the end of the WISHSS program.

Prior to the WISHSS initiative, only three students indicated having bank accounts. Moreover, student surveys suggested that the majority of the class had very little experience with banking institutions and safe banking products available to them. Students were excited to open accounts and begin the savings habit. Many students established savings goals such as for purchasing a car, saving for college, and a future apartment or house.

Student parents are allowed to enter the GRADS program on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. First Nations and Central High will continue to work with Pinnacle Bank to open accounts as the school year progresses.

By Benjamin Marks, First Nations Senior Research Officer

Nearly 200 Kids Participate in Colville $pending Frenzy

Financial education classes and workshops are mandatory for tribal youth residing on the Colville Indian Reservation in north-central Washington. In early January 2015, 193 students at Lake Roosevelt High School participated in a $pending Frenzy workshop.

In 2012, First Nations partnered with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) to offer the $pending Frenzy with Colville youth. The $pending Frenzy is an interactive financial education workshop that allows tribal youth to practice budgeting and spending a large lump sum of money. Developed by consultant Shawn Spruce and First Nations Development Institute, the workshop’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past three years and more than a dozen tribes have adapted the $pending Frenzy model for their tribal youth.

At Lake Roosevelt High School, students received $40,000 in play money to pay for real-world-like expenses such as rent, utilities, car payments and insurance. Additionally, students learned to budget money for educational expenses such as tuition and books.

Students also learned how to manage their Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, which they can access when they turn 18. They learned about current IIM interest rates versus commercial banking interest rates, what their account options are, and how to best manage their monies.

Tribal leaders and educators on the Colville Indian Reservation have experimented with a number of different financial literacy models for tribal youth. According to Fiduciary Trust Officer Margie Hutchinson, “The $pending Frenzy has been the most effective model so far. Students and teachers love it. In fact, we are planning more workshops in April and May for our other high school students.”

More and more tribes like the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation are making financial education classes and workshops mandatory for tribal youth. For more information about hosting a $pending Frenzy workshop in your community, please contact First Nations Program Consultant Shawn Spruce at agoyopi@gmail.com.

By Sarah Hernandez, First Nations Program Coordinator 

Wingate High Rules Stock Market Game

L to R: Anfernee Begay, Chandler Thompson, Clay Carviso and Bruce Lewis. In back is Ryan Yazzie

Financial education for Native Americans is one of our focus areas, so we’re delighted to report that financial literacy students from Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Education school at Ft. Wingate, New Mexico, really put the “win” in Wingate recently.  They were recognized for outstanding team performances in the “Stock Market Game” at an awards ceremony at the University of New Mexico on May 8, 2013.

Sophomores Anfernee Begay, Clay Carviso, Chandler Thompson and Ryan Yazzie – accompanied by financial literacy teacher and game advisor Bruce Lewis – received first- and second-place trophies for the state-level competition.  Begay also won a special trophy for achieving a 26.5 percent total return on his portfolio, the highest of any in the competition.  During his acceptance speech, Begay credited the use of applied mathematics in managing his award-winning portfolio. “I didn’t know too much about the stock market before playing the game, but I learned that anyone can buy stock and be an owner in a company,” Begay commented.  “Basically, I looked for stocks that had positive rising slopes during the last six to nine months and purchased them on margin in order to leverage my capital.”

All four students also completed the First Nations Development Institute-sponsored “Life on Your Terms” financial literacy course at Wingate, in which they studied various investing concepts such as risk, diversification and indexing that contributed to their success in the game.  Moreover, in just a few years Wingate has become a regional Stock Market Game powerhouse under Lewis’s guidance, having won various competitions three years in a row.

“We sure do enjoy playing the game,” Lewis explained to the audience.  “It’s great because it’s just like the real thing.  Students have to use formulas to calculate their asset-allocation percentages, and research stocks so they know where to put their money.  And, of course, have the discipline to know when to buy and sell.”

All of us at First Nations say “way to go Wingate High School!”

The Stock Market Game is an online educational activity that has served more than 13 million young people since 1977.  The game introduces students to the financial markets as they learn math, economics and the importance of long-term saving and investing.  Teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 in real stocks, bonds and mutual funds, learning cooperation, communication and leadership as they manage their portfolios over a 10-week period.  The game is sponsored nationally by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation with local support from Fidelity Investments and The University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management.

Life on Your Terms is a high school financial literacy course offered to students in the Gallup McKinley County School District and surrounding communities in coordination with First Nations Development Institute and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Currently the course is taught in 11 area high schools, with First Nations providing textbooks, classroom support and special events at no cost to partnering schools.

By Shawn Spruce, First Nations financial education consultant

L to R are Dean Doug Brown (Anderson School of Management), Bruce Lewis (Wingate), Champion Anfernee Begay (Wingate), and Shaun McHugh (Fidelity Investments)

Talented Native Students Make Art of Financial Literacy

Westlee Poor Bear begins drawing his piece “Bulls vs. Bears.”

In an effort to build Native youth financial literacy, First Nations worked with five art students at Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico, to produce creative, camera-ready posters addressing various financial education topics.

Miyamura art teacher Tine Hayes, who worked with First Nations to facilitate the project funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, selected five especially gifted art students to participate. The students were commissioned for their artwork and received a payment upon the completion of their finished piece.

First Nations financial education consultant Shawn Spruce visited the high school in December 2012 to lead the art students in three three-hour sessions.  He introduced various financial concepts and asked them to begin drawing a unique piece that illustrated “Risk/Reward,” “Capital Appreciation,” “Diversification” or the “Circle of Life.”  One student, Westlee Poor Bear, was inspired to create a piece of art that captured both the up and down stock markets, titled “Bears vs. Bulls.” Another student, Kyle James, drew a piece titled “Invest in Yourself” that connected financial skills with his passion for wrestling by illustrating how both require dedicated practice and discipline.

Teacher Tine was very supportive of the kids receiving compensation for their work.  According to Tine, it gave the youth experience learning how to cater their artwork to the needs of a client, and it demonstrated how art can be pursued as a career.

“This project gives kids an opportunity to see the vocational aspects of art,” he noted.Miyamura High School art students with teacher Tine Hayes (back center).”

After the students took a couple of months to put finishing touches on their artwork, Shawn followed up to present them with their compensation and to offer a complimentary two-hour financial education class.  The session topics mostly focused on instructing students on how they could make responsible saving and spending decisions with the payment they were receiving for their artwork.

“One student intends to use his payment to purchase art supplies so he can produce more artwork to sell,” Shawn said. “Inspiring young people with forward thinking ideas like this is the whole goal.”

The posters were used as part of First Nations’ national “My Green” campaign (see separate story) that helps youth who are receiving large minor’s trust or per-capita payments (“Big Money”) make wise financial decisions.

By Benjamin Marks, First Nations Research & Program Officer

Risk and Reward
by Deon Tom

Bulls vs Bears

by Westlee Poor Bear

Invest in Yourself
by Kyle James

Top: Circle of Life by
Bryce Belinte

Circle of Life by Jayth Benally