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

Student Artist Puts Soul & Soles Into “My Green” Campaign

Erin Bulow (Zuni Pueblo) proudly displays his custom painted "My Green" contest shoes

First Nations Development Institute’s “My Green” campaign helps Native youth learn how to take charge of their money – and begin to walk the path to financial wellness. As part of this financial education campaign, First Nations sponsored a contest in early 2013 where the grand prize was a pair of shoes that made that journey a little easier.

“You see so many contests these days with prizes like electronic gadgets and gift cards,” commented Sarah Dewees, First Nations’ senior director of research, policy & asset-building programs.  “That stuff can be great, but we wanted something more original that could tie directly into My Green’s message of financial empowerment.”

Sarah and her team didn’t have to look very far.  Last year First Nations worked closely with young artists on a “My Green” financial education poster project at Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico.  One student had an interesting hobby that got them thinking.  Erin Bulow, 17, hand paints colorful designs on tennis shoes. It turns out that custom-painted shoes are “all the rage” these days. In fact, there’s even a national shoe-painting contest for high school art students that is sponsored by Vans, a popular tennis shoe company. The Vans “Custom Culture” program is a national shoe-customization contest where schools from all over the U.S. compete for a chance to win money for their art programs, and usually has about 2,000 schools participating.  Miyamura High School entered this year, and so did the Early College Academy at the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, Oregon (NAYA Early College Academy is another school with whom First Nations partners to provide financial education programming).

First Nations hired Erin, who is originally from Zuni Pueblo, to design a one-of-a-kind pair of “My Green” shoes to serve as a prize for the contest.  Erin comes from a family of distinguished artists – his grandfather was Duane Dishta, a well-known kachina carver and silversmith, and his mother is an accomplished painter and potter.  In addition to shoe painting, the high school senior carves fetishes, makes pottery, silversmiths, and enjoys photography and writing short stories.  To date he has created more than 20 pairs of custom-painted tennis shoes that he sells along with other artwork through his website, BuffaloMedicineTrading.com.

“I’ve been into art my whole life, but I really started getting serious when I was about 13,” Erin explained. “It’s my passion to create, but it’s also my business.  I’d like to eventually own a gallery and become a full-scale dealer and trader.”

Erin’s ambition fits well with the “My Green” message of financial empowerment.  He also draws upon profound life experiences to produce art with a positive message.  When he was a child, his family home was lost in an accidental fire.  “I learned a lot when that happened,” he observed.  “I learned how important it is to be self-reliant and have money set aside.  I’ve had to grow up fast, but that’s a good thing.  I think some of these values come out in my art and I’m proud to share them with other young people who appreciate my work.”

It’s been said that the secret to a fulfilling life and rewarding career is doing what you love.  Erin Bulow has figured this lesson out a lot sooner than most. Our lucky contest winner got to think about taking a walk in his shoes – in more ways than one.

By Shawn Spruce, First Nations Financial Education Consultant

“Crazy Cash City” for a Crazy Cash World

 

A scene from a similar "Crazy Cash City" event in Gallup, New Mexico.

What’s the best way to learn about personal finance? How about a workshop where you get to make financial choices – and sometimes mistakes – but all with play money?

First Nations Development Institute partnered with the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in Portland, Oregon, to offer a “Crazy Cash City” workshop just yesterday, May 19, 2014. NAYA sponsors an alternative high school known as the Early College Academy that emphasizes student empowerment and academic excellence while integrating core American Indian and Alaska Native values in partnership with parents, families, elders and community members. First Nations is working with the Early College Academy to provide innovative financial education programming, including the “Crazy Cash City” workshop where more than 100 youth will learn the basics of budgeting, bill paying and financial responsibility.

“Students learn best in experiential settings,” noted Shawn Spruce, First Nations’ financial education trainer coordinating the event. “Kids like to hear, see, think and do. They are not just learning the concepts, they are carrying out the actual activities of budgeting and bill paying. Research shows that this is a much more effective learning model for youth than classroom lectures.”

The “Crazy Cash City” workshop is a 90-minute reality fair in which students have to navigate a series of simulated financial tasks designed to teach basic budgeting and banking skills. It is designed to be fun — since they are spending play money and not really buying things — but it is also informative and highly interactive. All participants are given a folder containing a fictitious family profile that listed what their income was, the income of a spouse, the age of any children, and any outstanding debt or benefits they received.  The high school kids then visit about 10 booths that provided various choices for housing, transportation, child care and more, and are asked to make smart financial decisions based on their family profile.  At the conclusion of the seminar, the students were expected to have a fully balanced budget that they logged in their check register and budgeting sheet. This workshop has been held multiple times with high schools in Gallup, New Mexico, and is based on the Credit Union National Association’s “Mad City Money” program.

Students calculate expenses at a similar event last year in Gallup, New Mexico

The purpose of the event is to give the youth opportunities to practice good spending and budgeting habits prior to entering the “real world” after graduation.  The idea is to promote smart and informed decisions that will last a lifetime.  This event was made possible with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. First Nations is honored to be partnering with NAYA on this project, and proudly supports their work in an additional grant supported by The Kresge Foundation.   “This event really brings together community partners and it is always great to work with the students and teachers,” said Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations Development Institute.  “We are happy that we found an exciting way to teach youth practical budgeting and banking skills that they can soon apply in the real world.”

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

Students Practice Money Management in “Crazy Cash City”

Students received prizes for taking turns in the Money Machine at the event

“Thank you for the experience. I finally got an idea of how things are in the real world.”Comment from a student after participating in Crazy Cash City.

On December 10, 2013, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) partnered with First Financial Credit Union to provide the “Crazy Cash City” money-spending simulation for students at Gallup Central High School in Gallup, New Mexico.  The program was offered to the entire school, and 85 students participated.

The Crazy Cash City event  was held in the school’s gym and consisted of two 90-minute reality fairs in which the students had to navigate a series of simulated financial tasks designed to teach basic budgeting and banking skills. It was all in fun — since they were spending play money and not really buying things — but it was also informative and highly interactive.

Bernadine Lee from the Navajo Partnership for Housing explains recreational expenses

All participants were given a folder containing a fictitious family profile that listed what their income was, the income of a spouse, the age of any children, and any outstanding debt or benefits they received.  The high school kids then visited about 10 booths that provided various choices for housing, transportation, child care and more, and were asked to make smart financial decisions based on their family profile.  At the conclusion of the seminar, the students were expected to have a fully balanced budget that they logged in their check register and budgeting sheet.

Jason Valentine of Coldwell Realty (right) pitches a "hard sell"

The event was made possible by a partnership between First Nations, faculty and leadership at Gallup Central High School, and First Financial Credit Union. Other community partners chipped in including volunteers from the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, Navajo Partnership for Housing and local retailers. Gallup Central High School Teacher Arnold Blum, First Financial Business Relations Manager Dale Detrick, and First Nations Financial Consultant Shawn Spruce coordinated the event. The event was partially funded by a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation and resources from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Mike Chavez of Lowe’s Supermarkets (right) discusses grocery spending

Students who filled out an evaluation form for the event expressed their support for the workshop and stated that the Crazy Cash City money simulation was a valuable experience.  Most importantly, all agreed that the simulation helped them learn to manage their money and that they could now successfully make and use a monthly budget.   Some students had such an enjoyable time during the first simulation that they participated again in the second event.  Many of the students who repeated adjusted their approach from the lessons they learned during the first go-around and even served as mentors to first-timers when they needed help.

The purpose of the event was to give the youth the opportunity to practice good spending and budgeting habits prior to entering the “real world” after graduation.  The idea was to promote smart and informed decisions that will last a lifetime.  When asked what was the most challenging part about managing monthly expenses for her fictitious family, one student responded, “Keeping up with my bills, and putting food on the table and caring for my one-month old baby. Also, keeping (the baby) in good hands when I leave.”

Liz Sanchez from My Closet (right) sells to a student

“This event really brings together community partners and it is always great to work with the leadership at Gallup Central High School and First Financial Credit Union,” Shawn said. “We are happy that we found an exciting way to teach youth practical budgeting and banking skills that they can soon apply in the real world.”

By Benjamin Marks, First Nations Research and Program Officer

FN+FIMO+FINRA+SEC+OST = Navajo Financial Ed

Attendees closely listen to workshop presenters and take many notes

To help tribal citizens of the Navajo Nation prepare for a potential financial windfall, the Federal Indian Minerals Office (FIMO) teamed up with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) to offer a series of financial education workshops in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December 2013. Staff from the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) also assisted with the trainings.

Participants engage in an interactive activity during the training

The outreach event was held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and consisted of two three-hour workshops designed to help people learn about managing their money, avoiding fraud, and investing. Interactive exercises, videos and presentations were used to provide information on financial topics.   FIMO was established in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Interior to provide services to individual Navajo mineral owner beneficiaries regarding their mineral interests and rights. To date the organization has approved 70 of 344 pending negotiated leases worth about $195 million to over 20,000 people.  There are also plans to auction off roughly 200 additional leases as a result of the current oil boom on the Navajo Nation.

Another activity helped drill home the information

The training began with a financial self-assessment and guided the participants through making goals, budgeting, tracking expenses and making a financial plan. The participants then learned about different types of fraud and effective means of combating fraud.   First Nations Financial Consultant Shawn Spruce coordinated the event in partnership with Charles Felker from the SEC, Susan Arthur from the FINRA Foundation, and Leona Begay from FIMO. The event was partially funded by grants from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.   The purpose of the event was to assist oil and gas lease beneficiaries with money management by promoting smart and informed decisions that will help with budgeting and protect beneficiaries from fraud. When asked about the training, many beneficiaries responded that the workshop was extremely valuable.

Visual aides were used during parts of the presentations

“It was really exciting to partner with staff from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Indian Minerals Office to provide this training,” Shawn said. “We look forward to providing many more, and having an even wider reach in the future enabling us to effectively build money management skills for this community.”

By Sarah Dewees, First Nations Senior Director of Research, Policy & Asset-Building Programs, and Rachel Vernon, First Nations Program Officer.

Navajos Sharpen Financial Skills Before Windfall

 

First group of participants, with Leona Begay (third from left)

 

To help prepare tribal citizens of the Navajo Nation for a potential financial windfall, the Federal Indian Minerals Office (FIMO) teamed with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) and First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) to offer a series of financial capability workshops in Farmington, New Mexico, in July 2013.

The “Four Corners” area, consisting of parts of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, has long been a hotbed for natural gas drilling.  However, recent advances in directional drilling technology allow access to previously untapped crude oil deposits that might also exist in the region.  In anticipation, oil companies are busy securing as many potential drilling leases as possible.

One of the groups of participants, with First Nations financial education consultant Shawn Spruce (far left)

A substantial portion of this area is home to the largest Indian reservation in the United States – the Navajo Nation.  FIMO was established in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Interior to provide services to individual Navajo mineral owner beneficiaries regarding their mineral interests and rights. The organization projects that $15 million to $20 million in drilling lease-signing bonuses will become available to beneficiaries later this year, as a result of this potential oil boom.

The workshops in Farmington covered various topics that were especially pertinent to the lease recipients who were present, such as budgeting, credit and negotiation. Participants were very interested in learning more about how to invest future funds, so trainer Shawn Spruce of First Nations spent time offering detailed information about investment activities including asset allocation and types of investing accounts.   Spruce also presented a number of online resources that would be of use to the recipients in preparation for the expected payments.

“We had two great days of training for future oil beneficiaries in Farmington,” said Shawn.  “We’ve provided similar workshops for other Native communities that receive individual lump-sum payments from natural resource royalties, legal settlements, gaming revenues or other sources.  It’s wonderful to be able to prepare people for future financial needs and challenges they might encounter.”

OST's Julia Redhouse (center) with two training participants

All workshop participants indicated on their evaluations that they believed they were better prepared for their distributions.  One attendee stated, “This was very beneficial. This information is a must-know for everyone receiving a distribution.”

The Minerals Revenue Specialist at FIMO, Leona Begay, would like to continue the partnership with First Nations and OST to provide additional workshops in Albuquerque.  For updates about these potential workshops, please visit www.firstnations.org or contact Shawn Spruce at agoyopi@aol.com.

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)

First Nations & Native America Calling Team Up on Radio Programs with Financial Focus

The national radio program Native America Calling and First Nations Development Institute teamed up this summer to offer a series of radio programs with a financial focus.   The series, which first aired June 14, was broadcast each Friday through July 12.

In the first program, host Tara Gatewood and expert guests discussed common selling and lending practices by automobile dealers in and around Native communities. Calvin Lee, an attorney with Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, shared information about problems people have had with unethical car dealers near the Navajo Nation.   A second broadcast featured a conversation about minor’s trust payments and how young people can successfully prepare for receiving these large payments, or their “Big Money.”

Another program provided information about how to use credit wisely. The remaining shows focused on “an Indigenous perspective on spending” and understanding retirement planning.

These programs were sponsored in part by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Each weekly broadcast included a brief conversation with the “financial warrior” known as Dr. Per Cap. Dr. Per Cap originated as an advice column sponsored by First Nations that was designed to assist individuals and families in becoming financially independent.  On each program, producer Monica Braine consulted Dr. Per Cap for advice on a financial topic, and he shared his insights, advice and wisdom.

Native America Calling, produced by the Koahnic Broadcast Corporation (a Native-operated media center in Anchorage, Alaska), is a live, call-in program linking public radio stations, the Internet and listeners together in a thought-provoking national conversation about issues specific to Native communities.  It is heard on more than 52 stations in the United States and Canada by approximately 500,000 listeners each week.

For more information about the radio show, please visit www.nativeamericacalling.com, and for information about the Dr. Per Cap advice columns, visit http://www.firstnations.org/AskDrPerCap.

By Sarah Dewees, First Nations Senior Director of Research, Policy & Asset-Building Programs, and Benjamin Marks, First Nations Research and Program Officer.

‘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