I thought I already knew this but I learned many new things that I can now pass on to my community!  --BNC Train-the-Trainer Attendee

Fabulous February

Looking Ahead 

I would like to wish all our partners and constituents a very happy New Year!  We are looking forward to yet another great year in working with our clients and partners  to propel the advancement of economic opportunity throughout Indian Country.

Native CDFIs have worked tirelessly and innovatively within their communities throughout the years, inspiring us to what is possible when opportunity and dedication meet.  Regardless of tribal affiliation, location, population and cultural dynamics, we all have one common goal.  Oweesta believes this goal, the advancement of prosperity and the creation of a platform by which asset creation and retention is attainable to all our communities, is within our grasp. By devising equitable lending products and pairing culturally relevant technical assistance with our programmatic endeavors, we have witnessed the advent of private-sector economies and increased home ownership at astounding rates.  Native CDFIs have been a catalyst in creating and advancing this mission.  We are creating economic freedom.  Our ultimate and unwavering goal at Oweesta is to continue to assist in attaining economic liberty throughout the nation, and to continually assist organizations in achieving true economic sovereignty.

As an intermediary lender and service provider, our successes are strictly driven by the accomplishments of our partner Native CDFIs.  This is why we remain ever diligent in accessing the state of our Native CDFI industry and modeling programs and lending products that will be the most beneficial in creating impact and sustainability within your respective communities.  We are deeply committed to your success.

For all that you do, and all we will continue to do on behalf of our communities, I say miigwetch- we are changing the economic landscape of our communities.

Chrystel Cornelius
Executive Director

Building Native Communities

The Building Native Communities Train-the-Trainer course held January 28-30th in Hollywood, Florida, was a fantastic way to start off the year.  The Native Learning Center was an incredible host and partner for this event. Oweesta had 26 individuals participate in the training, representing 14 unique Native communities.  The class had an incredible time discussing the transformative power of financial education in our communities, learning through games and activities, as well as sharing experiences. The energy was palpable and truly incredible! 

This week, Oweesta will be on-site in Redby, Minnesota, assisting with a community Building Native Communities training.  


Assets for Independence Funding 

Assets for Independence (AFI) is a federal grant issued by the Office of Community Services within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The grant program supports community based organizations and government entities in their efforts to promote asset-building and financial capabilities among low-income individuals. Native 501(c)(3)s or federally-recognized tribes can leverage AFI funding to support entrepreneurs, facilitate home purchases for first-time buyers, and promote educational attainment among tribal members. 

AFI grantees operate Individual Development Account (IDA) programs, in which participants’ deposits are matched at up to an 8-to-1 rate. Participants can use the funds saved towards one of three goals: post-secondary education, first-time home ownership, or small business development. Furthermore, IDA funds can be invested as equity, reducing the savers’ loan burden. The AFI project period is five years, and funds of up to $1 million can be awarded.  The 2014 application will be released in February.

To learn more about AFI, please visit the AFI Resource Center or participate in the Oweesta-hosted webinar on February 19, 2014, to hear from one our technical assistants.

Matching Funds Required 

As you have heard, the FY 2014 Omnibus Spending Bill was passed and the CDFI Fund received an INCREASE in funding. Specifically, Native Initiatives (NACA) is authorized for $15 million (up $3 million from the president's budget)!  

Per the FY 2014 NACA Program NOFA, the continuing resolution had waived the Financial Assistance (FA) match requirement for NACA. However, in the spending bill, the match is required.  The NACA Program has not seen a required match since 2009.  Since this is an adjustment for all of us, this is a reminder that the details of the matching-funds requirements are in the NOFA (page 5).  The NOFA states, "
The Applicant must demonstrate that it has eligible matching funds in-hand or firmly committed equal to no less than 50 percent of the FA amount being requested on or after January 1, 2012, and on or before the Application deadline" (December 23, 2013).  Thankfully, this means you have about two years' worth of funds that might be eligible for match.  

The Fund will let you know details on when and where to submit your matching-funds documentation.  The NOFA states, "If matching funds are required after this NOFA is released, the CDFI Fund will give NACA Applicants 30 days to submit the matching-funds documentation."   Therefore, its a good idea to get a jump start on document collection now.  Stay tuned to the Fund's website and make sure your mycdfifund account is up-to-date to receive details.   

If you are have questions, call Oweesta at 303.883.7747 or email us at:


Great Value in VITA Sites

A report released last week by First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) says in 2013, 145 unique VITA sites serving Indian Country filed a total of 48,000 tax returns, facilitated $70 million in refunds and helped people claim approximately $26 million in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are a useful tool for providing free tax-preparation services to low- and moderate-income people.  Helping them claim a range of valuable tax credits.  EITC refunds can help working families in Native communities jump start their financial goals, including saving for home ownership, starting a small business or just paying off their debt.  

To download a copy of the report VITA Sites Serving Native Communities: The State of the Field, visit First Nation's Knowledge Center.  

Visit Oweesta's 
website to download Native EITC Outreach Tools to help get the word out to eligible families about free tax-preparation sites in or near your community.  

2014 Native Convening

Denver, Colorado 

The 2014 Native Convening will commence this October in Denver, Colorado, and we want to make the conference tailored just for you!  Please take one minute to answer four questions about the upcoming conference.  Your input is valuable to the planning process and will ensure your voice is heard.  


Chi Ishobak, a Native CDFI in southwest Michigan, received its CDFI Fund Certification this last month.  

Thank you to all those who took time to answer the FEAB survey last month.  Sierra Ward is the lucky winner of a Galaxy Tablet!  She is the business analyst at Pima Leasing and Financing Corporation, a Native CDFI.  

Teach Great Classes About Credit

Feb. 26

CFED will host a free lunch-and-learn workshop for the launch of LifeWise Strategies' new teaching tool:  The Good Credit Game

From the creators of the popular Money Habitudes cards, this teach-out-of-the-box tool makes it fun and easy to facilitate great classes on credit reports, credit score and credit cards.  It features a series of innovative, hands-on activities. The lesson plans and games are an engaging alternative to the usual lectures, worksheets and PowerPoints.

The lunch workshop will cover the challenges of teaching about credit, provide an overview of The Good Credit Game and its modules and let participants see and use the learning tools and activities.

This event is free, but space is limited.  Register today by clicking here.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 17-20
Anishinaabe Worldview
Accredited training in cultural competency
Click here for information

Feb. 19
Building a Powerful Grants Strategy
Click here for information
*Oweesta-hosted webinar*

Feb. 20
The Path to Repayment
OFN-hosted webinar
Click here for information

Feb. 24
Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program 

Feb. 24-25
ANA Pre-Application Training
Alaska Region TTA Center

Feb. 26-28
Building Native Communities
Sponsored by KeyBank
Click here for information
*Oweesta-hosted training*

March 5-6
2014 CDFI Coalition Institute
CDFI Coalition
Click here for information
*Oweesta attending*

March 19
Financial Education Products
Click here for information
*Oweesta-hosted webinar*

March 27
Customer Acquisition - Reaching and Retaining Your Customers
OFN-hosted webinar
Click here for information 

April 1-3
Building Sustainable Communities in Indian Country
Native Learning Center
Click here for information
*Oweesta Speaking*

April 28

Tribal Consultation - CDFI Fund
11th Annual Construction in Indian Country Conference
Click here for information 

May 14-16

Annual Conference - Financial Inclusion in Focus: From Vision to Reality
National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions
Click here for information

June 3-5
Annual Summer Conference
Native Learning Center


Do you have any opportunities, announcements or programs you would like to highlight?  Please send those to:  Thanks!

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Our mailing address is:
2432 Main Street, 2nd Floor | Longmont, Colorado 80501
(P) 303.774.8838  | (F) 303.774.7841