WELLS FARGO FOUNDATION PROVIDES $1.8 MILLION MULTI-YEAR GRANT TO SUPPORT NATIVE CDFIS

LONGMONT, CO – First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) is excited to announce Wells Fargo Foundation (Wells Fargo) has awarded the organization a grant of $1.8 million to support the Equity and Opportunity for Start-up, Emerging, and Growing Native CDFIs program.

This new program, supported by Wells Fargo, will allow Oweesta to provide equity grants to start-up, emerging, and growing Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the lower 48 states and the state of Alaska seeking loan capital from Oweesta in addition to in-depth technical assistance to support these groups in the lending process.

Native CDFIs are vital nonprofit organizations in their communities. They operate as crucial financial institutions with a mission of providing responsible, affordable lending opportunities for ‘under-banked’ individuals, especially those who are low-income and low-wealth. CDFIs serve individuals in building or repairing credit, supporting entrepreneurship, helping build assets like homeownership, and more.

Native CDFIs are often created in locations with the fewest Tribal and/or philanthropic resources, meaning for many start-up, emerging, and growing Native CDFIs, it can be difficult to access the initial seed capital for lending. This program will help Native CDFIs build capacity to attain certification with the CDFI Fund, access further capital sources, and serve their communities’ capital needs.

Oweesta anticipates serving five to seven Native CDFIs per year through this program, providing an average grant of $65,000. These grants will be provided as match to loans given by Oweesta to Native CDFIs. Native CDFIs will be selected through an open application process. To qualify for this matching grant, a Native CDFI would need to meet the following requirements:

• Be located in and serve Alaska or the Continental U.S.
• Have less than $5MM in organizational total assets
• Have less than $500,000 in non-federal debt
• Must meet all Oweesta underwriting requirements

Preference will be given to organizations that have been lending for less than five years. These Native CDFIs will be selected to participate in the program in accordance with when they are “loan ready” to receive a loan from Oweesta.

To apply for a loan and grant from Oweesta through this program, please email Isaiah Cornelius at Isaiah@oweesta.org to be invited to the application portal and for additional instructions. Please complete application by November 30, 2019. New applications will be considered on an annual basis over the next three-years.

Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of Oweesta, states, “This grant funding will support the incubation and growth of Native CDFIs by directly addressing capital, equity, and capacity building challenges. We are incredibly grateful for this funding as it will bolster our Native CDFIs capacity to meet target market lending demands and offer an opportunity of an equity match to our lending capital provisions. This inherently strengthens our Native CDFIs capacity to grow and strength their financial position in serving their respective tribal communities.”

“Native Community Development Financial Institutions provide affordable lending to help grow local businesses, spark job growth and help low-income and underserved people and communities succeed financially and thrive,” said Cora Gaane, Wells Fargo tribal advocate. “Wells Fargo is pleased to partner with First Nations Oweesta in its efforts to strengthen Native CDFIs and drive economic development throughout Indian Country.”
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About Oweesta
First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s mission is to provide opportunities for Native people to develop financial assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs contributing to economic independence and strengthening sovereignty for all Native communities. Oweesta is the only existing Native CDFI (community development financial institution) intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities. Specifically, Oweesta provides training, technical assistance, investments, research, and policy advocacy to help Native communities develop an integrated range of asset-building products and services, including financial education and financial products. Native CDFIs provide Native communities the tools and capital support required for real and sustainable job creation, small business development, commercial real estate development, and affordable housing/home ownership, while also offering basic banking services and financial literacy training to “underbanked” Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities who have been historically targeted by predatory lending practices.
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Contact:
Krystal Langholz, Chief Operating Officer, First Nations Oweesta Corporation
krystal@oweesta.org or 303.774.8838

Note: All other grant seekers can apply through www.wellsfargo.com/donations or through the Diverse Community Capital program https://www.wellsfargo.com/com/financing/real-estate/community-lending-investment/cdfi. Wells Fargo’s current grant application process is closed for 2019.

LARGE INVESTMENT FROM BETTER WAY FOUNDATION SUPPORTS FIRST NATIONS OWEESTA CORPORATION’S LOAN CAPITAL

For Immediate Release: July 31, 2019

LONGMONT, CO – First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) and Better Way Foundation are pleased to announce a funding commitment focused on supporting and increasing Native CDFIs’ access to capital. Better Way Foundation has dedicated $500,000 as a program-related investment (PRI) that will support lending to Native CDFIs across the nation. Eligible loan recipients are Native CDFIs located in Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, or Wisconsin.

Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are vital nonprofit organizations in their communities They operate as crucial financial institutions with a mission of providing responsible, affordable lending opportunities for underserved and ‘unbankable’ individuals, especially those who are low-income and low-wealth. CDFIs serve individuals in building or repairing credit, supporting entrepreneurship, helping build assets like homeownership, and more.

This $500,000 program-related investment (PRI) will increase Oweesta’s portfolio and be used for lending to Native CDFIs, supporting the work and mission of Oweesta through capitalization, allowing the organization to offer low-cost capital to the Native CDFIs it serves. “We are thrilled to make our first-ever program-related investment to Oweesta, because when we engage with communities across Indian Country, we see resilience, opportunity, creativity, and strength,” said Andreas Hipple, Executive Director of Better Way Foundation.

Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of Oweesta, is grateful for the support from Better Way Foundation through this PRI, stating “These funds will increase Oweesta’s financial capacity to serve Native CDFIs by allowing us to also directly address capital challenges, bringing more capital into Native communities. It will also increase our impact, which means more jobs, more homes, and more private sector development as a sustainable institution engaged in this work.”

First Nations Oweesta Corporation was created 20 years ago to address the lack of capital and financial infrastructure holding back economic development in Native communities recognized by its parent organization, First Nations Development Institute. First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s mission is to provide opportunities for Native people to develop financial assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs that contribute to economic independence and strengthened sovereignty for all Native communities. For more information, visit www.oweesta.org

Started in 1988 by Gerald (Gerry) A. and Henrietta (Hanky) Rauenhorst, founders of the Opus Group, Better Way Foundation is focused on building a future where child well-being contributes to strong families and communities. Better Way Foundation invests in systemic, holistic, and evidence-based approaches that support the positive development of all children, and made a 10-year, $10 million pledge to Indigenous early childhood development in 2018. Better Way Foundation supports both international and domestic partners, and has connected with exceptional community-based leaders investing in the lives of children and strengthening their communities. More information is available at www.betterwayfoundation.org.

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Contact:

Stephanie Cote Programs Officer, First Nations Oweesta Corporation
stephanie@oweesta.org or 303.774.8838

Four Outstanding Leaders are Recognized for Commitment to the Native CDFI Industry at the 4th Annual Native CDFI Capital Access Convening

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2019

Contacts:
Heather Rademacher Taylor (Director of Programs, Oweesta)
303.774.8838  heather@oweesta.org

Lihue, HI – On Wednesday, June 26th, First Nations Oweesta Corporation recognized two individuals at the Native CDFI staff level for their outstanding commitment to service in Native CDFI industry, one organization as a friend and supporter for their financial partnerships within the Native CDFI industry, and one surprise honoree at the 2019 Native CDFI Capital Access Convening’s Native Awards Night.

The Industry Achiever Awards recognize Native CDFI staff members who exemplify excellence in the Native CDFI industry, have excelled at their jobs within their Native CDFI organizations, and ultimately helped the organization excel in serving their communities. The Native CDFI Industry Achievers awards recognize those hardworking staff who make the work of Native CDFIs not only possible, but help the organization consistently exceed expectations.

Pictured (left to right): Robin Danner, Board Member, Oweesta; Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director, Oweesta; Stephanie Cote, Programs Officer, Oweesta; Patty Gobert, Loan Administrator, NACDC Financial Services; Derek Valdo, Board Member, Oweesta; Angie Main, Executive Director, NACDC Financial Services

Oweesta awarded the first Industry Achiever Award to Patty Gobert, Loan Administrator for NACDC Financial Services in Browning, Montana. Ms. Gobert embodies the spirit award through her kind, patient, and persistent efforts in assisting loan clients become loan ready and maintaining a loan portfolio with a 0% default rate. Executive Director of NACDC Financial Services, Angie Main, shared, “Patty is relentless in loan collection, even reminding people they have payments due during basketball and other community activities.” She is a loving grandmother to her family and contributes greatly to the Blackfeet community.

Pictured (left to right): Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director, Oweesta; Robin Danner, Board Member, Oweesta; Stephanie Cote, Programs Officer, Oweesta; Lahela Williams, Program Coordinator, Hawaiian Community Assets/Hawaiian Community Lending; Derek Valdo, Board Member, Oweesta; Jeff Gilbreath, Executive Director, Hawaiian Community Assets/Hawaiian Community Lending

The second Industry Achiever Award was awarded to Lahela Williams, Program Coordinator of Hawaiian Community Assets/Hawaiian Community Lending. Ms. Williams is a local Native Hawaiian with 15 years of experience in Native Hawaiian community development. She has developed an award-winning model for service delivery, through her intimate knowledge of Native Hawaiian culture and her origination’s clientele. “Ms. Williams is recognized by our boards as a Native CDFI industry achiever because her expertise in the delivery of development services has allowed our loan fund to build borrower pipeline of nearly 3,000 Native Hawaiians and maintain a default rate of less than 1%, while lending primarily to individuals and families experiencing or at-risk of homelessness,” said Jeff Gilbreth, Executive Director of Hawaiian Community Assets/Hawaiian Community Lending.

Pictured (left to right): Stephanie Cote, Programs Officer, Oweesta; Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director, Oweesta; Andy Gordon, Arizona Market President, Clearinghouse CDFI; Gerald Sherman, Board Member, Clearinghouse CDFI; Robin Danner, Board Member, Oweesta; Derek Valdo, Board Member, Oweesta

The Hoaloha (Friend) of the Native CDFI Industry Awards recognizes an organization that has made a long‐term contribution to the Native CDFI industry and whose financing and asset-building efforts make them an inspiration for others. Clearinghouse CDFI has been a pioneer in investing in Indian Country, overcoming internal policy and obstacles to make investments to the communities that need it most. To date, Clearinghouse CDFI has served 1.8 million clients, given $1.73 billion in lending, and have 1,860 total funded projects, including $8.3 million funded to Native American owned enterprises.

Pictured (left to right): Stephanie Cote, Programs Officer, Oweesta; Robin Danner, Chairwoman, Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, Executive Director, Hawaiian Community Development Corporation; Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director, Oweesta

At the close of the awards ceremony, Oweesta honored Robin Danner, Chairwoman of Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations and Executive Director of Homestead Community Development Corporation, for her dedication and commitment to serving Indian Country and Native Hawaiian communities through policy and advocacy, small business expansion, and housing lending and development. Ms. Danner welcomed the Native CDFI Industry and Industry partners to her homeland of Kauai, Hawaii, and worked to integrate traditional Hawaiian weaving and ceremony, Hawaiian Homesteaders and voices, and pertinent Native Hawaiian issues throughout the 2019 Native CDFI Capital Access Convening, creating an unforgettable, incredible culturally involved and locally embedded conference experience. Oweesta is grateful for the partnership with Ms. Danner and her community and appreciate her years of service to the Native CDFI industry.

“We extend our congratulations to the individuals and organizations honored at the 4th Annual Native CDFI Capital Access Convening Native Awards Ceremony,” said Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of First Nations Oweesta Corporation. “These awardees are an inspiration to the Native CDFI industry and deserve the recognition for their efforts in advancing our communities across the nation.”

For more information on NACDC Financial Services, Inc., please visit their website at www.nacdcfinancialserivces.com.

For more information on Hawaiian Community Assets/Hawaiian Community Lending, please visit their website at www.hawaiiancommunity.net.

For more information on Clearinghouse CDFI, please visit their website at www.clearinghousecdfi.com.

For more information on Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, please visit their website at www.facebook.com/homesteadassociations.

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First Nations Oweesta Corporation provides opportunities for Native people to develop assets and create wealth by assisting in the establishment of strong, permanent institutions and programs, leading to economic independence, and strengthening sovereignty for all Native communities. Oweesta is the oldest Native CDFI intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities. Specifically, Oweesta provides training, technical assistance, investments, research, and policy advocacy to help Native communities develop an integrated range of asset-building products and services, including financial education and financial products. For more information, visit www.oweesta.org.

Oweesta Partners with NeighborWorks America to Provide Native CDFI Practitioner Certification Training

CONTACT US


First Nations Oweesta Corporation
2432 Main Street
Longmont, CO 80501
303.774.8838
info@oweesta.org



Oweesta is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

ABOUT OWEESTA


Oweesta is the only existing Native CDFI intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities. Specifically, Oweesta provides training, technical assistance, investments, research, and policy advocacy to help Native communities develop an integrated range of asset-building products and services, including financial education and financial products.

Asset-building tools stimulate reservation economies by providing tribal members the opportunity to acquire financial management skills and build and accumulate assets through small business creation, homeownership, education, and much more.

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