October:  The latest upcoming events, webinars, and much more!
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October 2016 Newsletter

Upcoming Events


Credit Builders Alliance and The Financial Clinic present:
Developing and Enhancing Your Credit Building Program
October 12 at 12:00 p.m. MT
Registration is now OPEN

Native Learning Center presents:
How to Acquire Funding from Foundations and Grants
October 14 at 12:00 p.m. MT
Registration is now OPEN

Oweesta and Sweetgrass Consulting presents:
Impact Measurement, Data Collection, Data Management, and Reporting - Part 2
October 19 at 12:00 p.m. MT
Registration is now OPEN

First Nations Development Institute presents:
Building a Culture of Digital Engagement
October 27 at 10:00 a.m. MT
Registration is now OPEN

Native Learning Center presents:
Mentoring Youth in Today's World
November 2 at 12:00 p.m. MT
Registration is now OPEN


Alaska Federation of Natives presents:
Annual AFN Convention
October 20-22, 2016
Fairbanks,  Alaska
Registration is now OPEN

Intertribal Agricutlure Council presents:
Native Youth in Food & Agriculture
October 13-16, 2016
Reno, Nevada
Registration is now OPEN

Oweesta and Opportunity Finance Network presents:
Native Convening
October 24-27, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia
Registration is now OPEN

Opportunity Finance Network presents:
2016 Opporutnity Finance Network Conference
October 25-27, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia
Registration is now OPEN

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development presents:
Reservation Economic Summit
November 14-17, 2016
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Registration is now OPEN


Native CDFI Success Story

Chi Ishobak

"Bad Debt is History, Thanks to Chi Ishobak Financial Coaching"

Sean Winters, the executive director of Chi Ishobak, often invokes Potawatomi ancestors when talking about financial wellness. "Our ancestors were planners," he says. "They only took what they needed, and celebrated what Mother Earth gave us."

Winters, who has headed the Pokagon Band’s financial institution for 4 years, says that in village days, the people's survival depended on managing those gifts. It's different today, when the lure of easy credit promises a "buy now, pay later" lifestyle. Chi Ishobak offers financial wellness courses and individual coaching to help citizens who are trying to get out of debt and embrace planning for their resources. John T. Warren is one citizen who took advantage of this service, and in five months he has an emergency fund, a savings account and he's paid off $7,000 credit card debt. "This whole thing has changed my life in a number of ways. I have no worries because if an emergency pops up, I've got it covered," Warren said. "It really works." Winters cautions that it's easy to talk about, but hard to live.
"I'd been using credit cards for this and that, and had gotten turned down for loans in the past," Warren remembered. "Sean offered help with a budget, but I wasn't ready for it.” But late last year, Warren knew he was ready. "In December something hit me, and I knew I was tired of the stress and wondering where the money would come from. Sean motivated me to start it, and I haven't stopped." "When you look at it on paper, I didn't do anything; it's all John's work," said Winters.

What exactly did Warren do? Made (and stuck to) a budget. Reduced eating out. Started an emergency fund. And every extra dollar went to paying off credit card debt. Winters provided personal coaching. Not telling Warren what to do, but asking questions, gathering info, offering options, and empowering him. Winters recognizes that it's hard to trust someone with such a sensitive subject, but he assures confidentiality, trust, and no judgment. 

"It was hard at first, but I was ready to make the commitment," Warren said. "If my mobile bank balance doesn't match up, if I need moral support, I call Sean, bring him in some receipts. It feels real good."

Warren estimates that by end of May all his credit card debt will be paid, and his truck will be paid off by November. After that he'll save three months’ worth of expenses. "I've never seen anyone do this so quickly and be so committed from ground zero," said Winters. "We saw changes within two weeks." Winters emphasizes that it's all about planning, just as the ancestors knew.

"Surviving the winter wasn't possible without planning. Today, you can experience a death of spirit under financial stress. Each week John's posture got a bit better, and I haven't seen him without a smile since. His pride has increased. He's doing this not just for himself, but for his community."

Register TODAY!

13th Annual Native Convening
Atlanta, Georgia
October 24-27, 2016

Registration is still open for our 13th Annual Native Convening this year in Atlanta, Georgia.  In conjunction with Opportunity Finance Network, we begin the Native Convening with the Pre- Conference Native Gathering Day on Monday, October 24th, 2016. This full-day Gathering is designed for all professionals interested in learning more about Native CDFIs and their innovative work in transforming Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities across the nation. The Native CDFI Network will also host and conduct their Annual Native CDFI Network Membership Meeting following the conclusion of Gathering day events. The Native Gathering kicks off a week of learning and networking among Native CDFI practitioners and supporters of Native asset building efforts. This is sure to be a week filled with information, interaction, and inspiration.

In partnering with Opportunity Finance Network, First Nations Oweesta Corporation also holds a Native CDFI specific track of sessions each year at the Annual Opportunity Finance Network Conference. Follow the link below for details on the Native Track Sessions offered this year!


2016 Opportunity Finance Network Conference
Atlanta, Georgia
October 24-27, 2016

Keynotes: Confirmed speakers include Annie Donovan, Director, CDFI Fund; Lael Brainard, Member, Federal Reserve Board of Governors; and Dennis Lockhart, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Breakout Sessions: More than 60 breakout sessions across 14 tracks, including Measuring Impact, CDFI Futures, Financial Resources, and more!

Networking Opportunities: From facilitated networking sessions to designated networking locations to informal networking at the Trade Show and in the halls, you'll love all the chances you will have to interact with your colleagues from across the country.

Oweesta in the Field

Seneca Nation Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families 5th Edition Train-the-Trainer
Salamanca, New York
September 7-9, 2016

First Nations Oweesta trainers Christopher Hansen and Lanalle Smith provided a three day train-the-trainer course with the Seneca Nation community, in partnership with Native Learning Center and KeyBank Foundation. Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families is a culturally relevant financial education curriculum geared toward Native communities. Congratualtions to the 15 graduates!  

Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families
5th Edition Training

Fort Hall, Idaho
September 21-23, 2016

First Nations Oweesta Corporation, in partnership with Native Learning Center and KeyBank Foundation, delivered a 5th Edition Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families Train-the-Trainer, on September 21-23, 2016 in Fort Hall, Idaho. This training offered a three-day, state-of-the-art instructor training and certification program to help Native CDFIs, tribes and other Native organizations establish and sustain financial education programs in their communities. Congratulations to the 28 graduates!

2016 Annual Instructor Survey

The winner of the Samsung Galaxy Tablet is Julie Pego with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan's Andahwod CCC and Elders Services in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. We appreciate all of the survey participants! 

Please look out for the results of the 2016 Annual Building Native Communities Instructor's survey in our next newsletter.

To view the 2015 Annual Building Native Communities Instructor's survey results, please follow the link below.

Grant Opportunities


Project Reinvest: Homeownership

Funding Opportunity

Project Reinvest: Homeownership will provide grant funding to eligible community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide deferred down payment assistance loans to borrowers at 100 percent of area median income or less in urban, suburban and rural communities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Eligible organizations are limited to nonprofit CDFIs with current certification by the U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund (CDFI Fund) at the time of application.

Eligible organizations must be able to demonstrate the ability to originate a high volume of down payment assistance loans in conjunction with a first mortgage product over a two-year program period. The grant period, January 2017 through January 2019, includes project implementation, progress monitoring, grant reporting and evaluation. 

For more information, please follow the link below!


Assets for Independence Program Funding Opportunity

 The next application deadline in the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) has been updated to October 31, 2016.

To learn more about the FOA, view the Introduction to the 2015 AFI FOA webinar. Click here to view a summary of prior modifications to the FOA.

Technical assistance opportunity: Intensive Coaching Cohort

There is still time to register for the October Intensive Coaching Cohort! Participants in this cohort will have an opportunity to plan their AFI projects and develop their applications with the support of the AFI Resource Center and other cohort participants.  Participants will learn from each others' questions and ideas while staying on track to submit their applications by October 31.

The cohort will meet for three virtual coaching sessions, on August 25, September 8, and September 22. These sessions will be interactive discussions guided by participants’ questions, not presentations. Transcripts from prior cohorts are available on the AFI Resource Center website.

The cohort is a good fit if your organization is serious about applying for AFI funding in October 2016 and you are looking for support and guidance as you put together the application. Cohort participants are expected to have a broad grasp of the AFI program requirements in order to explore nuances of program design. Register here.



Does Your Organization Need Loan Capital?

Are you a Native CDFI, Native Nonprofit, or tribe that needs extra capital for lending to Native farmers, ranchers, or fishers? Check out our new Native Fresh Foods Fund loan product. Oweesta considers loan applications on a rolling basis. Application requirements include current and historical financial statements, portfolio reports, loan policies, current and historical financial statements, and a comprehensive business plan or comparable information. If you are interested in finding out more about our loan program, please visit or contact Emily Trump, Lending and Compliance Manager, at


Get a Jump-Start on Your VITA Program! Learn to Prepare Taxes by Becoming a Tax Volunteer!

The IRS is looking for people to provide free tax help in 2017. Become a tax volunteer and make a difference in your community.
The IRS sponsors the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. These two programs offer free tax help across the country for people with low-to-moderate incomes. This year, VITA and TCE volunteers prepared more than 3.7 million federal tax returns at no cost to families across the country.
Here are five good reasons why you should consider becoming a VITA or TCE volunteer.

  1. Flexible hours. Volunteers generally serve an average of three to five hours per week. The programs are usually open from mid-January through the tax filing deadline in April. A few sites are open all year.
  2. VITA and TCE sites are often nearby and need your help. Nearly 12,000 sites were set up in neighborhoods all over the country for this past filing season. They are often set up in community centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and similar places. Chances are good that you can volunteer at a site near you.
  3. No prior experience needed. You’ll receive specialized training and can serve in a variety of roles. If you are fluent in another language, you may be able to help those who speak that language.
  4. Free tax law training and materials. Learn how to prepare basic tax returns and learn about all the tax deductions and credits that benefit eligible taxpayers.
  5. Continuing education credits for tax pros. Enrolled Agents and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn credits when volunteering as a VITA/TCE instructor, quality reviewer or tax return preparer. See the IRS fact sheet for more information on Continuing Education Credits. 
As a volunteer, you’ll join a program that’s helped millions of people file tax returns at no charge for more than 40 years. Your help will make a difference. It’s people helping people. It's that simple.
To find out more, visit and type "tax volunteer" in the search box. If you’d like to become a volunteer, you will need to submit your volunteer interest information on at IRS Tax Volunteers.
IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer rights and more.
Additional IRS Resources: 

Share this tip on social media -- #IRStaxtip: Learn to Prepare #Taxes by Becoming a Volunteer. #IRS


CFED's "Strengthening VITA to Boost Financial Security at Tax Time & Beyond"

This federal policy brief explores the importance of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to low- and moderate-income communities and offers recommendations for reforms to ensure the sustainability of the program in the future.

To read the full brief, please follow the link below.

The CDFI Fund's "Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities" Study Released!

A new independent report on access to capital and credit in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities (Native Communities) was released May 2016 by the Native Nations Institute. The "Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities" Report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), examines recent successes in the effort to improve access to capital and credit in Native Communities as well as what can be done to build on that success. The CDFI Fund commissioned the report as a follow-up to its 2001 Native American Lending Study, which analyzed access to capital and financial services in Native Communities, identified barriers to access, and provided options to address the barriers.

To read the full press release, please follow the link below.


2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard

Check out the 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, the leading source for data on household financial security and policy solutions. Released annually, this year's Scorecard examines 130 policy and outcome measures to develop an understanding of how residents are doing in their quest to seize economic opportunity and what states are doing to help get them get ahead. Follow the link below for more information!

Oweesta Products & Services

Did you know that Oweesta offers technical assistance for Native CDFIs and Native organizations? In addition to having an array of products to offer, we can also customize a service to meet your needs. Follow the link below to see how we can help your organization today!

Job Opportunities

Check out our website for the latest job opportunities in the Native CDFI and nonprofit sector!

If you have a job opportunity available at your organization, share it with the industry by emailing our Communications Manager,

Welcome to fall!

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