L.E.A.D. is Coming! Register Now!

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First Nations Development Institute will hold its 21st Annual First Nations L.E.A.D. Institute Conference at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, OK on September 27 – 29, 2016.

LEAD collage 2For more than 30 years, First Nations has worked with Native nations and organizations to strengthen American Indian economies to support healthy Native communities. As an extension of this mission, the L.E.A.D. conference is designed to help emerging and existing leaders in Indian Country network, grow professionally, share ideas and learn new skills related to asset-building.

Training Tracks Offered

Track 1: Nourishing Native Foods & Health
Track 2: Investing in Native Youth
Track 3: Strengthening Tribal & Community Institutions

Attendees have the option of attending sessions in just one track, or they may customize their experience by selecting from any of the sessions that interest them.

Who Should Attend?

  • Native American nonprofit professionals
  • Native Americans interested in launching or expanding nonprofit and/or philanthropic organizations
  • Tribal leaders or those who work in tribal organizations
  • Anyone interested in Native American nonprofits and philanthropy
  • Anyone interested in Native American food sovereignty
  • Tribal economic development professionals

 

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$2 Million in Grants a First Nations Record

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2015 was a record year for First Nations Development Institute (First Nations). During those 12 months, First Nations granted its largest annual dollar amount ever to Native American organizations and tribes. It also awarded the largest number of grants ever in a one-year period. The funding went toward projects aimed at grassroots economic development and Native community betterment, and covered areas ranging from agriculture and food systems, to Native arts-related efforts, to urban Indian centers, to Native youth and culture programs.

During 2015, First Nations awarded a record 103 grants totaling $2,174,494. The grants ranged from $90 up to $120,000, and went to Native organizations or tribes in numerous states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Previously, the annual record for First Nations in its 35-year history was 95 grants totaling $1,867,560 in 2012.

The 2015 amount brings the cumulative total of First Nations’ grantmaking over its history to $24,316,573 and over 1,067 individual grants.

Although First Nations has been able to increase capital for Native community-developed and led projects aimed at building strong and healthy Native economies, First Nations is still only able to meet about 17 percent of the grant requests it receives, leaving a significant unmet need.

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Michael Roberts

“We are very fortunate to be able to support exciting and innovative work taking place in Indian Country aimed at strengthening economies and communities,” said First Nations President & CEO Michael E. Roberts. “But the sheer amount of underinvestment in Indian Country by the philanthropic community continues. We’ll continue to work to increase investment in the dynamic work taking place in Native communities.”

Much of the funding that First Nations receives so it, in turn, can provide grants and other services to Native projects comes from foundations and individual donors. Overall, studies have shown that even though Native Americans make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, only three-tenths of one percent of private foundation funding goes toward Native American causes, even in light of the fact that Native communities generally face significantly higher economic, health and housing disparities than the general population.

By Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer

“My Green” Campaign Releases Music Video

First Nations Development Institute’s “My Green” campaign, a social marketing campaign focused on financial empowerment for Native American youth, has just released a new music video that addresses “18 Money,” which is the age at which some Native teens receive a significant financial distribution while they often lack the skills to effectively deal with the windfall.

Theodore “Theo” Brown, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin, wrote and recorded a song titled “Turned 18” about the challenges and pitfalls of receiving a minor’s trust payment. Working alongside the Ho-Chunk Players, a Native youth theater troupe directed by Sherman Funmaker, Theo and the group produced a music video to illustrate a day in the life of a Ho-Chunk youth who “turned 18.” The video was shot over several days this past summer in Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsLB8vzk-80.

Ho-Chunk Players on location in Baraboo, Wis. Left to right are Sherman Funmaker, Sylvia Bisonette, Dean Funmaker, Mariah Funmaker and Diana Concha.

It can be called “Minor’s Trust,” “Big Money” or “18 Money,” and for a number of Native American youth, it represents a blessing and a curse. A small number of tribes pay out dividends from tribal businesses, or per-capita payments, to their members. Payments for tribal members who are age 17 or younger are usually held in a financial trust until the youth turns 18. At age 18 (although sometimes later) youth receive a substantial payment and are faced with the responsibility of managing their “Big Money.”

With funding from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, First Nations launched the “My Green” campaign to help Native youth learn to manage their “18 Money.” This includes raising awareness of the challenges and opportunities provided by the minor’s trust payment. The campaign features a website at www.mybigmoney.org that provides a platform for four spokespeople – Native youth ages 17-23 – to present their stories about how they managed their money. They share their lessons learned in several videos, and serve as guides throughout the different components of the website.

23 Groups Receive Native Youth & Culture Fund Grants

In October, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) announced the selection of 23 American Indian and Alaska Native organizations to receive grants totaling $400,000 through First Nations’ Native Youth and Culture Fund, which is underwritten by the Kalliopeia Foundation with contributions from other foundations and tribal, corporate and individual supporters.

The Native Youth and Culture Fund is part of First Nations’ effort to strengthen Native American nonprofit organizations, with the intent to preserve, strengthen and/or renew American Indian culture and tradition among tribal youth. The grants support the projects and provide capacity-building and training to the organizations’ staff members. All of the funded projects demonstrate creative and innovative approaches, whether through traditional knowledge, art, language or a program or business enterprise.

The complete list of grantees and their project descriptions can be found here: http://www.firstnations.org/node/630. The projects cover a variety of areas, including youth-elder intergenerational programs, cultivating responsibility and leadership, language programs, traditional foods and farming, wellness, history and cultural documentation.

Tribal entities represented in this year’s awards include the Northern Cheyenne, Cochiti, Dakotah/Dakota, Lakota, Euchee, Mohawk, Grand Ronde, Lumbee, Lummi, Menominee, Diné/Navajo, Nez Perce, Santa Ana, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Quinault, Santo Domingo, Haida and Zuni.

‘My Green’ Campaign Helps Native Youth Take Charge of Their Money

It’s called “Minor’s Trust,” “Big Money” or “18 Money,” and for a number of Native American youth, it represents a blessing and a curse.

A small number of tribes pay out dividends from tribal businesses, or per-capita payments, to their members. For tribal members who are age 17 or younger, these payments are usually held in a financial trust until the youth turns 18. At age 18 (although sometimes later) minors can apply for their minor’s trust payout and sometimes receive a very large payment. Thus, many young people are faced with the responsibility of managing their “Big Money” at a young age.   With funding from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, First Nations launched the My Green campaign in April 2013 to help Native youth learn to manage their money. The main feature of the campaign is the My Green website at www.mybigmoney.org. It features four spokespeople – Native youth ages 17-23 – who present their stories about how they managed their Big Money. They share their lessons learned in a series of videos, and they serve as guides throughout the different components of the website. The site contains several money tools that Native youth can use to learn how to better manage their payments, including a Big Money simulation game that mirrors real-life spending decisions one must make.  The website also features an advice column that covers a number of financial topics that are especially pertinent to Native youth receiving minor’s trust payments.

First Nations created the campaign and website in response to the demand to provide financial education to the growing number of Native youth who are receiving a large lump sum of money as part of their minor’s trust payout.   Studies have shown that most Native American youth have very low rates of financial literacy, and are more likely to be “unbanked.” The national Financial Literacy of Native American Youth report (2007) showed that nearly 87% of Native American high school seniors in their study received a “failing” score in financial literacy. Similarly, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) found that 28.9% of American Indian and Alaska Natives are “underbanked,” and 15.6% are “unbanked.” With this low level of financial knowledge and high “unbanked” rate, Native youth who receive a large Minor’s Trust payment (sometimes amounting to $50,000 or more) are especially vulnerable to making poor financial decisions.

“Receiving a large minor’s trust payment when one turns 18 can be an exciting but also very stressful time for Native youth,” said Shawn Spruce, a program consultant for First Nations.  “We are confident that the My Green website will offer these kids a number of valuable tools to explore how to invest in their future.”

First Nations will continue to promote the website at several conferences over the summer and fall, including hosting a My Green booth at The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) conference Oct. 29 – Nov. 3, 2013. We first launched the campaign at the Native American Financial Officers Association conference in April in Nashville, followed by the Gathering of Nations PowWow in Albuquerque.

To learn more about the My Green campaign, visit the website at www.mybigmoney.org, “like” the campaign on Facebook at MyGreenFNDI, or follow the effort on Twitter @mygreenfndi.

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

Bottom:
Circle of Life by Jayth Benally