Oweesta Has Been Selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Solar for All Awardee

It is with great excitement that I announce that the Oweesta Corporation is a recipient of the Solar for All program under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) in the amount of $156,120,000. This award will enable Oweesta to extend critical financial support for residential solar generation, battery storage, resilience upgrades, and workforce development opportunities to Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities across the United States.

The significance of this funding cannot be overstated. It represents a monumental opportunity to overcome challenges and drive sustainable green economic development in the communities we serve. With this funding, we will provide critical resources and support to Indigenous communities, nurturing growth, innovation, and prosperity. We recognize that this achievement is not ours alone but is the result of the collective efforts and unwavering support of our partners, stakeholders, and allies. Together, we have demonstrated the power of collaboration and solidarity in advancing the well-being and self-determination of Indigenous peoples from across the country.

In the coming weeks, we will host informational webinars and disseminate key information to provide clarity, address any questions you may have, and layout how you can plug into this work. We invite you to stay tuned and engage with us! Should you wish to discuss further, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Oweesta team.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to all our partners who supported us throughout the application process, contributing to its successful funding. Furthermore, we are enthusiastic about strengthening these existing partnerships and forging new ones moving forward to maximize the impact of these funds and ensure they reach and impact those who need them most.

As we embark on this transformative journey, we invite you to celebrate this milestone with us and continue championing the needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities. Together, we can build a future that is equitable, inclusive, and prosperous for all.

Thank you for your support and partnership.



Biden-Harris Administration Announces $7 Billion Solar for All
Grants to Deliver Residential Solar, Saving Low-Income Americans $350 Million Annually and Advancing Environmental Justice
Across America

EPA announces 60 selectees under Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grant competition to deliver solar to more than 900,000 low-income and disadvantaged households nationwide through the President’s Investing in America agenda

Contact: EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

Washington – April 22, as the Biden-Harris Administration celebrates Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced 60 selectees that will receive $7 billion in grant awards through the Solar for All grant competition to deliver residential solar projects to over 900,000 households nationwide. The grant competition is funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda through the Inflation Reduction Act, which created EPA’s $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The 60 selections under the $7 billion Solar for All program will provide funds to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits across the country to develop long-lasting solar programs that enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from distributed residential solar, lowering energy costs for families, creating good-quality jobs in communities that have been left behind, advancing environmental justice and tackling climate change.

“Today we’re delivering on President Biden’s promise that no community is left behind by investing $7 billion in solar energy projects for over 900,000 households in low-income and disadvantaged communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The selectees will advance solar energy initiatives across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, saving $8 billion in energy costs for families, delivering cleaner air, and combating climate change.”

“Solar is the cheapest form of electricity—and one of the best ways to lower energy costs for American families,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy. “Today’s announcement of EPA’s Solar for All awards will mean that low-income communities, and not just well-off communities, will feel the cost-saving benefits of solar thanks to this investment.”

“Residential solar electricity leads to reduced monthly utility bills, reduced levels of air pollution in neighborhoods, and ultimately healthier communities, but too often low-income and disadvantaged communities have been left out. Today’s announcement will invest billions to ensure that affordable housing across the U.S. can access solar and increase energy efficiency and climate resilience,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman. “HUD is honored to have played a key role in today’s monumental announcement, which will provide meaningful household savings to households in low-income and disadvantaged communities, reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, and deliver electricity during grid outages for low-income households.”

“Sunlight is powering millions of homes across the nation, and we’re working hard to ensure Americans everywhere can benefit from this affordable clean energy resource,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is proud to work alongside our partners at EPA and across the Federal government to help communities access the limitless energy of the sun to light their homes and power their businesses.”

“The United States can and must lead the world in transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuels,” said U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). “The Solar for All program – legislation that I successfully introduced – will not only combat the existential threat of climate change by making solar energy available to working class families, it will also substantially lower the electric bills of Americans and create thousands of good-paying jobs. This is a win for the environment, a win for consumers, and a win for the economy.”

EPA estimates that the 60 Solar for All recipients will enable over 900,000 households in low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from distributed solar energy. This $7 billion investment will generate over $350 million in annual savings on electric bills for overburdened households. The program will reduce 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions cumulatively, from over four gigawatts of solar energy capacity unlocked for low-income communities over five years. Solar and distributed energy resources help improve electric grid reliability and climate resilience, which is especially important in disadvantaged communities that have long been underserved.

Solar for All will deliver on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to creating high-quality jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union for workers across the United States. This $7 billion investment in clean energy will generate an estimated 200,000 jobs across the country. All selected applicants intend to invest in local, clean energy workforce development programs to expand equitable pathways into family-sustaining jobs for the communities they are designed to serve. At least 35% of selected applicants have already engaged local or national unions, demonstrating how these programs will contribute to the foundation of a clean energy economy built on strong labor standards and inclusive economic opportunity for all American communities.

The Solar for All program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. All of the funds awarded through the Solar for All program will be invested in low-income and disadvantaged communities. The program will also help meet the President’s goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.

Solar for All will expand existing low-income solar programs and launch new ones. The 60 selected applicants will serve households in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and territories, as well as increase access to solar for Tribes. EPA has selected 49 state-level awards totaling approximately $5.5 billion, six awards to serve Tribes totaling over $500 million, and five multistate awards totaling approximately $1 billion. Solar for All will deploy residential solar for households nationwide by not only providing grants and low-cost financing to overcome financial barriers to deployment but also by providing services to communities to overcome other barriers such as siting, permitting, and interconnection. A complete list of the selected applicants can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Solar for All website.

The 60 selected applicants have committed to delivering on the three objectives of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: reducing climate and air pollution; delivering benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities; and mobilizing financing to spur additional deployment of affordable solar energy. Solar for All selected applicants are expanding existing low-income solar programs and launching new programs. In at least 25 states and territories nationwide, Solar for All is launching new programs where there has never been a substantial low-income solar program before. In these geographies, Solar for All selected applicants will open new markets for distributed solar by funding new programs that provide grants and low-cost financing for low-income, residential solar.

  • To date, many of the 60 selected Solar for All applicants have supported low-income and underserved communities in installing innovative residential solar projects. With this new funding, selectees can launch thousands more projects like these throughout every state and territory in the nation:
    The threat of storms is a major reason Athens, Georgia resident Delmira Jennings and her husband John used selected applicant Capital Good Fund’s Georgia BRIGHT leasing program to install a 13-kilowatt solar and 10-kilowatt-hour battery system in February. “Last year, we spent two days without power after what seemed like a mini tornado,” Jennings said. After a recent outage, Jennings noted that she didn’t even know she lost power. “The batteries kicked in and all the power items we were using were on battery backup.”
  • Last year, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, whose successful pilot initiative served as the basis for selected applicant Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara (MHA) Nation’s Northern Plains Tribal Solar for All program, took major steps toward a clean energy future with the completion of the first phase of the White River Community Solar project. This project will deploy 15 solar systems at the homes of elders while piloting a groundbreaking approach to solar ownership and management that is intended to set an example for Tribes across the nation.
  • Through its Solar Access for Nationwide Affordable Housing (SANAH) program — a model for equitably providing solar to low-income renters in disadvantaged communities — selected applicant GRID Alternatives’ team in San Diego installed a solar energy system at Trolley Trestle, home to youth transitioning out of the foster care system. Energy cost savings estimated at over $600k over ten years, will be reinvested to provide additional services to those who call Trolley Trestle home, including more job and life skills training.

Review and Selection Process Information

The 60 applicants selected for funding were chosen through a competition review process. This multi-stage process included review from hundreds of experts in climate, power markets, environmental justice, labor, and consumer protection from EPA, Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, Department of Treasury, Department of Agriculture, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Labor, Department of Defense, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Department of Energy’s National Labs – all screened through ethics and conflict of interest checks and trained on the program requirements and evaluation criteria. Applications were scored and selected through dozens of review panels and an interagency senior review team.

EPA anticipates that awards to the selected applicants will be finalized in the summer of 2024, and selected applicants will begin funding projects through existing programs and begin expansive community outreach programs to launch new programs in the fall and winter of this year. Selections are contingent on the resolution of all administrative disputes related to the competitions.

Informational Webinars

EPA will host informational webinars as part of the program’s commitment to public transparency. EPA has scheduled a public webinar for the Solar for All program, and registration details are included below. Information on other GGRF webinars can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Engagement Opportunities webpage.

  • Solar for All webinar: Monday, April 29, 2024, 4:00pm – 4:30pm ET.

Justice Climate Fund Selected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Clean Communities Investment Accelerator Program

Justice Climate Fund Will Empower Its Network of Community Lenders to Successfully Deploy Affordable, Responsible Green Lending

(Washington, DC/April 4, 2024) — Today, the Justice Climate Fund (JCF) announced it has been selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin award negotiations for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) program. JCF has been selected to receive approximately $1 billion in funding.

JCF is a nonprofit financial institution created to scale the nationwide deployment of affordable, equitable clean energy improvements for disadvantaged American families, businesses and communities. JCF achieves its mission by enabling and deploying capital through America’s Main Street financial institutions — the very community lenders that have delivered, for decades, financial opportunity, security and prosperity to struggling Americans. JCF’s network of community lenders pioneered community-based lending. With GGRF funds, these dedicated lenders can expand their successful histories of driving positive value and change by tackling climate change. By focusing on communities, JCF will enable American families, communities and businesses to save money and deliver a greener, cleaner, safer and more inclusive future for us all.

This transformation is within reach. Today, JCF’s network of community lenders serves 281 million Americans — or almost 86% of this nation — and includes more than 1,000 CDFIs across every state in the nation and multiple territories. Through the CCIA program, JCF will equip community lenders with new skills, tools and relationships to successfully deploy affordable, responsible green lending in communities across the country, especially those that are low income and disadvantaged.

“Our community lenders are the boots on the ground serving hard-working American families and communities too often excluded from the innovation economy that defines our country. We advance green lending, capacity and capital in low-income and disadvantaged communities, allowing the most impacted to lead change for all of us,” said Douglass Sims, JCF interim Chief Executive Officer. “JCF thanks the Biden Administration and the EPA for recognizing JCF’s transformational role in advancing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund’s mission. We are honored to have been selected for the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator program, and we believe that this is just the start.”

“President Biden and Vice President Harris have put communities at the center of their Investing in America agenda. Today, we’re putting an unprecedented $20 billion to work in communities that for too long have been shut out of resources to lower costs and benefit from clean technology solutions,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The selectees announced today will deliver transformational investments for American communities, businesses, and families and unleash tens of thousands of clean technology projects like putting solar on small businesses, electrifying affordable housing, providing EV loans for young families, and countless others. That translates to good-paying jobs, energy bill savings, and cleaner air, all while delivering on President Biden’s historic agenda to combat climate change.”

On August 16, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which authorized the EPA to implement the GGRF to mobilize financing and private capital to combat the climate crisis and revitalize communities, particularly those that have historically been left behind. CCIA is one of the three programs through which the GGRF will be implemented.

“We look forward to working with the EPA and mission-driven private investors to bring climate solutions, and their many benefits, to our nation’s families and communities,” continued Sims. “We appreciate the Biden Administration and the EPA validating JCF’s capacity and mission and providing this critical transformational seed capital. We have opened our doors to the country’s community lenders and the aligned investors that support them. Together, we can build an enduring, national institution.”


The Justice Climate Fund s a purpose-built nonprofit financial institution that is building the field and deploying capital through CDFIs, credit unions, MDIs and green banks, and specialty finance firms as to enable families, communities and businesses to save money while investing in a greener and safer future. JCF is founded by the Community Builders of Color Coalition. It is steered by a Board that includes the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs, the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders, Inclusiv, National Bankers Association, Oweesta Corporation, Opportunity Finance Network, Partners for the Common Good and Community Development Bankers Association, ImpactAssets, the Housing Partnership Network, and Connecticut Green Bank. They have come together to ensure that all communities equitably benefit from the GGRF. See www.justiceclimatefund.org

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The Rolling Rez: Giving “Mobile Banking” a New Meaning

Every two weeks, on Tribal Pay Days, when the Tribe (the largest employer on the Pine Ridge Reservation) disperses paychecks, a brightly painted bus pulls up. The Rolling Rez is a bank on wheels that travels the fifty miles from Kyle to Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and services Tribal employees with their banking needs. People have access to cash, deposit their paychecks, sign loan documents, open accounts – virtually everything a local branch does.

The Rolling Rez bus is a joint initiative started in 2012 by Lakota Federal Credit UnionLakota FundsFirst Peoples Fund, and Artspace that brings banking to people. The Pine Ridge Reservation, a sprawling community 70 miles wide, covering more than 2.8 million acres of land, is home to more than 28,000 people. “We like to say the rez is about twice the size of the state of Delaware,” said Shayna Ferguson, CEO and President of Lakota Federal Credit Union (LFCU). Unlike Delaware, which has 36 banks with over 200 branches scattered throughout the state, Lakota Federal Credit Union is the first and only federally-insured banking institution on the reservation.

Pine Ridge Reservation is also one of the poorest communities in the nation. “More than half the population lives below the poverty line; how can people afford gas to get to a credit union?” said Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director at Lakota Funds. The challenges they saw inspired Brunsch and Ferguson to get creative with their servicing. The Rolling Rez is essential for reaching people in distant areas, especially on paydays. “It’s important to catch people when they have that check in hand, and hopefully it’s deposited or saved or used to repay a loan,” added Brunsch. The strength of the credit union’s membership is a testament to how invaluable accessible banking is. “When we first chartered the credit union, we projected we would have 1000 members in two years. We blew that number out of the water within six months,” shared Ferguson. “Today, we have 3,500 members; it shows how much of a need LFCU is.”

Lakota Federal Credit Union started after the Lakota Funds team saw the need to provide Tribal members with essential banking services, like a checking and savings account. Established in 1986, Lakota Funds is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) offering business loans paired with technical assistance and financial education classes. They are also the first native CDFI dedicated to promoting economic sustainability on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They recognized a credit union would be an asset to Tribal members and agreed to sponsor the credit union in 2009.

“We wanted to give community members access to wealth-building education and access to the products – mortgage loans, checking and savings accounts, consumer loans – that build wealth,” shared Brunsch. Two and a half years after the chartering process began, the doors to the first federally insured depository institution on the reservation were opened.

Like many services, the Rolling Rez was a victim of covid-19 when the generator broke down, and replacement parts couldn’t be sourced for about two months, leaving the bus temporarily out of service. “This made us realize how dependent Pine Ridge is on the mobile banking services,” shared Brunsch. “We ordered a second bus to double up on access and services.” The second bus will amplify LFCU’s efforts. While the first bus is shared with Artspace, the second bus will be wholly owned and operated by LFCU. This will allow them to drive the bus five days a week and expand to the Rosebud Reservation, a neighboring reservation of over 11,000 people who don’t have a bank or credit union yet.

(This story was originally featured in Forbes, through the Partners for Rural Transformation EQ Brand Voice partnership.)

Oweesta Presents Our New Branding

Over the past 20 years, Oweesta’s purpose and programming has been adapting to address the ever-evolving needs of Indian Country. Last year, we made perhaps the most significant step for our future when we spun off from our parent organization. We figured this momentous step required us to adopt a new visual identity that would carry us into the future.

The rebranding process was lengthy, time-consuming and very thoughtful as we envisioned Oweesta in the decades to come. Oweesta is inherently Native – established in response to Native needs, founded by Native leaders, and deeply-rooted in Native economies. When we were founded, we existed in a category of our own as an intermediary Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Our role has remained steadfast throughout the decades as we help build the financial capability and opportunity for Tribal nations and redirect the flows of capital from mainstream institutions into Native CDFIs. We wanted a visual representation that captured our essence as a Native organization as well as our role as a bridge builder and collaborator in the economic development industry.

We are thrilled to share this new look with you. At the heart of our visual identity is our logo. Buffalo have incredible individual strength, but they gather their primary power by acting as a collective. Buffalo are also held incredibly sacred to many Tribes as their existence ensured the strength and survival of people. We felt that buffalo are an adept representation of our organization and our Native CDFIs who ensure the continued prosperity for their respective tribal communities. We also incorporated seven arrows within our circular design representing the seven generations and the continuance of the circle of life.

We are excited to step into the next chapter with an identity that honors our spirit, values, and commitment to the Native CDFI movement. As we look to the future, we are invigorated to work with you all as we breathe life into our new tagline: “Redefining Equity. Reclaiming Native Sovereignty. Together.”

Rebuilding in Hawai’i

Oweesta Corporation Selected for the Community Navigator Initiative to Support Native Business Resiliency

Following a hub-and-spoke model, Oweesta and twenty-seven Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) partners will provide training and technical assistance to Native businesses and entrepreneurs thanks to a $5M U.S. Small Business Administration grant.

Longmont, CO – Oweesta has been awarded one of eight Tier-1 national grants of $5 million as part of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot Program aimed at reaching small businesses for stronger economic recovery efforts. Following a hub-and-spoke model, Oweesta is partnering with twenty-seven Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to serve Native businesses and entrepreneurs on reservations and urban environments across seventeen states.

Acting as a “hub,” Oweesta will serve as a centralized, lead organization and leverage our long-standing relationships with grassroots Native CDFIs as “spokes.” Oweesta will be partnering with the regional CDFI, MoFI, to provide training and peer-to-peer learning opportunities for Native CDFIs participating in the program. Through this model, government resources will be more effectively distributed to reach small business owners and entrepreneurs. Research shows that the amount of Native-owned business is scarce in today’s market due to structural barriers Native businesses and entrepreneurs face in business ownership and creation. Rooted within the communities, Native CDFIs are instrumental in reaching underserviced Native communities and providing culturally relevant, economic development services.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized building our small business ecosystems back better so that all of our entrepreneurs have a fair shot at achieving the American dream of business ownership,” said Administrator Guzman. “We need to meet businesses where they are with resources to start, grow and be resilient, and the Community Navigator Pilot Program will power a trusted network of community partners to connect America’s entrepreneurs with the SBA. The program’s Community Navigators will develop strong relationships with deeply trusted community-based organizations that will tap into one-on-one, targeted support from programs designed to help them create jobs and drive innovation.”

Through this grant, Oweesta and the twenty-seven Native CDFI spokes will provide additional business management training and technical assistance, including business planning, financial statement preparation, and marketing assistance. “Native CDFIs have long been the backbone of small business support in their communities. Oweesta is proud to partner with our Native CDFI partners, MoFI, and the Small Business Administration to increase access to technical assistance and training for Native entrepreneurs around the country,” said Chrystel Cornelius, CEO of the Oweesta Corporation.

Read the full SBA statement.

Use this interactive map to learn more about the Native CDFI Spokes.

Complete List of the 27 Native CDFI Spokes


Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Financial Services Mvskoke Loan Fund, Inc.
Akiptan, Inc NACDC Financial Services, Inc
Bank of Cherokee County Nakoda Aaniiih Credit Agency
Black Hills Community Loan Fund, Inc. Native360 Loan Fund, Inc.
Chehalis Tribal Loan Fund Native American Development Corporation
Chi Ishobak, Inc NiiJii Capital Partners
Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation Nimiipuu Community Development Fund
Cook Inlet Lending Center Northwest Native Development Fund
First American Capital Corporation Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation
Four Bands Community Fund Sequoyah Fund
Four Directions Development Corporation Taala Fund
Hawaiian Lending and Investments Waianae Economic Development Council
HoChunk Community Capital, Inc. Wisconsin Native Loan Fund
Montana Native Growth Fund

Oweesta Presents our Campaign “When Money is Red”

In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Oweesta is launching a campaign called When Money is Red that will run on our social media platforms throughout the month of November for Native American Heritage Month.

When Money is Red is a campaign that envisions the possibilities of investing in Indian Country. We have witnessed firsthand in our role as a Native CDFI intermediary that when armed with the appropriate resources, Native peoples hold the capacity and ingenuity to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of their communities. The problem is Native people and issues continue to be invisible in the mainstream.

With this campaign, Oweesta will revisit the problematic history of wealth creation in this country, highlight the ongoing policy issues that keep Native people from fulfilling their economic destiny, and pose calls to action for policymakers, philanthropic institutions, and the general public alike to honor and celebrate our continued place in history and in this country.

We chose the name When Money is Red as a twist on the history of wealth creation across most of the developed world. Colonization brought on the genocide of First peoples and the destruction of culture and land, and modern-day policies and prejudices perpetuate those colonist practices. We will look to subvert the history of blood money in this country and build power towards economic justice for Indian Country.

This Native American Heritage Month, we want to make it clear: Indigenous people are not relics of the past; we are present, we persist, and we will recreate our futures. We can’t change the narrative alone. We invite you to join the movement:

  1. Join our mailing list to follow our campaign When Money is Red.
  2. Support the campaign using the Partner Toolkit.
  3. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for upcoming programming and conversations around making money red.
  4. Attend the Indigenous Community Organizing & Storytelling virtual event featuring Oweesta.

In Solidarity,
Oweesta Corporation

Oweesta Releases Two Groundbreaking Reports on the Native CDFI Industry

Oweesta is thrilled to release two groundbreaking reports that provide an in-depth look at the Native CDFI industry. Both of these reports are part of our commitment to share best practices, key findings, and successful or promising models widely.

Native CDFI Financial and Lending Performance Report

Our Native CDFI Financial and Lending Performance Report looks at the health of our lending portfolio and offers an insightful synopsis, backed by data, of the overall strength of investing in Indian Country. We plan to produce this report on a yearly basis as a tool for Native CDFIs to understand how their operations and financial performance sits in comparison with their peers, in order to guide decision-making at their organization. The report includes:

  • Synthesized quarterly borrower reporting data from 28 Native CDFIs and one Native CDFI banking institution.
  • An analysis of investments across loan type (business, consumer, housing, and agriculture) and/or asset size.
  • Data that supports the belief when armed with the appropriate resources, Native peoples hold the capacity and ingenuity to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual, and cultural well-being of their communities.

A special thanks to our partners and borrowers for sharing their borrower information on a quarterly basis, and to Northwest Area Foundation for sponsoring this report.

Housing Market Study

Oweesta’s study Opportunities and Challenges for Native CDFI Housing Lenders: Innovative Mortgage Lending Solutions in Native Communities provides an in-depth exploration of the housing market in Indian Country. Looking at surveys and data analysis, the report paints a clear picture of Native CDFI’s crucial role in developing the housing landscape on tribal trust lands and beyond. The report includes:


  • An analysis of institutional challenges as well as the creative solutions undertaken by Native CDFIs to overcome those challenges.
  • Actionable recommendations for Native CDFIs and partners to adapt to the growing demand for housing.

Oweesta is grateful to the many partners and contributors to this report and Freddie Mac for funding the research behind this report.

Oweesta Welcomes Fern Orie as Chief Programs Officer and Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships

Longmont, CO – Oweesta is pleased to announce that Fern Orie has joined the organization as Chief Programs Officer and Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships. In this capacity, Orie will serve as a critical member of the executive leadership team and will lead Oweesta’s strategic efforts to impact national policy to expand capital access for Native communities, strengthen our private and public partnerships, and oversee Oweesta’s capacity building efforts in support of our Native CDFI partners.

“I’m excited to join Oweesta after working in partnership with them at the Wisconsin Native Loan Fund all of these years. Leading the Wisconsin Native Loan Fund, I experienced how Native CDFIs are agents of change and are the most powerful resources to help communities thrive. It is an honor to now support the broader Native CDFI movement on a national level,” said Fern Orie.

Orie brings 20 years of experience working in the Native housing and community development industry. She recently served as the founding CEO of the Wisconsin Native Loan Fund (WINLF) for the past fourteen years, where she established a statewide housing Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) providing housing, consumer, and business loans to tribal members on all eleven Wisconsin Indian Reservations. Since 2015 she has served as the founding Chairwoman of the Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance, a unique collaboration of the four Native CDFIs of Wisconsin. Additionally, Orie serves on the Board of Directors as the Vice Chairwoman of the national organization, the Native CDFI Network.

“Oweesta is excited to have Fern join the team at a time when Native CDFIs are increasingly becoming vital lifelines for financial recovery of their communities,” said Chrystel Cornelius, CEO and President of Oweesta. “Fern has been a fierce champion of the Native CDFI industry for decades; we are confident her experience and passion will help carry Oweesta forward as we work to drive $100M of capital into Native communities by 2030.”

Orie is a strong advocate for the cultural and economic prosperity of Native people in her home state of Wisconsin and has served as an ambassador of Indian Country at the national levels. She was appointed by the Governor to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee, and the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability. She also serves on the Wisconsin Economic Development Association Board of Directors. In addition, she sits on the Board of Directors and Loan Committee of Bay Bank, a tribally owned bank, and on the Forward Community Investments New Markets Tax Credit Advisory Board. Fern serves on the Program Advisory Committee for the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College and also the Community Advisory Committee for Associated Bank. Orie holds a B.A. in Business Administration and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) through the National Development Council. She is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

Media Contact
Denisse Ruiz
Communications Officer