Updated “Building Native Communities” Curriculum Released


In honor of National Financial Literacy Month during April 2016, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) released the 5th edition of the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum. The revised curriculum includes an updated Participant Workbook and Instructor Guide.

First Nations partnered with Oweesta to convene an advisory committee to revise the Building Native Communities Participant Workbook. Funded by the Rose Foundation and the AMB Foundation, the workbook has new content that incorporates feedback from the field and addresses changing technology. There are new sections that cover topics like online banking, consumer savvy (recognizing persuasion tactics), and constructing a record-keeping system. The revision team also removed outdated material and greatly enhanced the math content of the workbook. New “Money Math” activities throughout the workbook help students apply what they have learned. In addition, the revised workbook includes new illustrations, photos, infographics and charts. The resulting workbook has a more modern and visual feel.

FNOC2clogo.1Oweesta and First Nations also updated the Instructor Guide that accompanies the Building Native Communities curriculum. New chapters address training techniques, learning styles for various demographics, financial education program design, and best practices for financial education classes.

Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families is a culturally-appropriate guide to financial education in Native communities that helps individuals make informed financial decisions for themselves, their family, and their community. Since the release of the first edition of the curriculum in 2000, Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families has become the leading financial education curriculum in Indian Country. To date, First Nations and Oweesta have distributed over 18,000 copies of the Financial Skills for Families workbook and over 1,400 leaders from 28 states have become certified trainers through nearly 60 Oweesta/First Nations train-the-trainer events.

“We are excited to revise this workbook and honored by the input of our advisory committee,” shared Sarah Dewees, Senior Director of Research, Policy and Asset-Building Programs at First Nations. “The 5th edition is a great workbook and we are happy to announce its completion.” Krystal Langholz, Chief Operating Officer of First Nations Oweesta Corporation, stated, “We look forward to rolling out this new edition with revised train-the-trainer workshops and several webinars to introduce people to the new content.”

To pre-order copies of the 5th edition curriculum, contact Chris Hansen at chris@oweesta.org or (303) 774-8838. To download a PDF copy, visit the First Nations Knowledge Center.

By Benjamin Marks, First Nations Senior Research Officer

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 www.BNCweb.org. 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 investnativeonline.org 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.

Financial Ed Workshop Held at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

Some of the attendees at SIPI go over their materials

The Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum is a culturally appropriate financial education curriculum designed for use in Native communities. It is used by tribal colleges, tribal housing authorities and other programs to educate approximately 2,300 students a year – and the numbers are growing.

On October 1-3, 2014, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) partnered with First Nations Oweesta Corporation to provide a “train-the-trainer” workshop to help practitioners learn to use the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum in their home community.

In coordination with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute’s (SIPI’s) Board of Regents Office, First Nations helped conduct a three-day workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that provided an orientation to the curriculum, an overview of teaching tools, and training on a range of teaching techniques. More than 15 participants in the workshop learned how to use the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum in a variety of settings to promote financial empowerment.

“We were happy to be able to partner with First Nations Development Institute to offer this workshop,” said Vonne Strobe, a project coordinator for SIPI’s Board of Regents Office. “We definitely learned a lot that will be useful in serving the clients in our financial education program.” Other participants in the workshop included staff from tribal housing authorities, education departments, and staff from New Mexico’s tribal libraries program.

“It is an honor to work with such a great group of passionate and dedicated financial educators,” noted Shawn Spruce, a workshop facilitator and a First Nations financial education consultant. “We look forward to hearing how people are able to use these tools to serve their community members.”

To learn more about the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum, visit the First Nations website at http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/financial-education/bnc.

By Sarah Dewees, First Nations Senior Director of Research, Policy and Asset-Building Programs

First Nations Moves into New Office Building

First Nations Development Institute has a new address!

First Nations purchased its own headquarters office building in Longmont, Colorado, and moved in on April 26, 2013.  The purchase was a strategic move that makes great economic sense both for the organization and for the Native communities it serves.  According to First Nations Board Chair B. Thomas Vigil, “It became obvious that First Nations needed to seize control of its own physical space. The building is now a key asset of the organization, providing operational space as well as rental income from other tenants.”

Michael E. Roberts, First Nations’ president, commented that “First Nations will no longer be dealing with wildly escalating rental rates, and will be allowed to keep the concentration of its resources on serving Indian Country and not paying rent.” The move was precipitated by a 67% rent increase demanded for the same space that First Nations and its independent subsidiary, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, had occupied for more than two and a half years.

First Nations’ board approved the borrowing of funds from First Nations’ endowment fund to purchase the building. Going forward, First Nations will be paying back the loan to its own endowment with interest, will buffer itself from future rent increases, has available space for expansion, may be eligible for nonprofit property tax offsets, and will earn income from other building renters.  Currently, some of the other tenants include insurance and real estate agencies, a senior citizen care firm, plus two other American Indian organizations.

The two-story building was constructed in the 1980s. First Nations negotiated a below-market price for the property along with concessions for some necessary updates and repairs.

According to Michael, the purchase of the building is a sign of the continuing growth and maturity of the organization. “Besides the major economic advantages of owning our own property, it is a bricks-and-mortar symbol of the permanence of our mission of strengthening Native American communities across the United States.”

Our phone numbers and email address all remain the same, but here’s our new street address:

First Nations Development Institute
2432 Main Street, 2nd Floor
Longmont, CO 80501