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Oweesta Awarded MacArthur Funds Supporting an Equitable Recovery

July 27, 2021

LONGMONT, CO Oweesta is to be awarded a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support our work in realizing sovereign and self-sustaining economies on Indigenous lands. 

The grant is part of roughly $80 million in awards MacArthur announced today in support of the foundation’s Equitable Recovery initiative, centered on advancing racial and ethnic justice. Oweesta is one of 15 organizations receiving part of the $16 million grants under the focus area of advancing “Self-determination of Indigenous Peoples” established to support Indigenous communities’ autonomous pursuit of a recovery guided by their priorities, cultures, and practices. 

“Oweesta is deeply honored to be part of MacArthur Foundation’s strategy for an equitable recovery that uplifts self-determination efforts of Native people” said Chrystel Cornelius, President and CEO of the Oweesta Corporation. “As Native communities often have to navigate in landscapes with scarce funding opportunities, through funding initiatives such as these, we can create pathways and programs that allow Native people to take control of their financial lives and begin to build wealth for future generations.”

For over 20 years, Oweesta has been a pillar for the economic advancement of tribal and Indigenous communities through their investment, capacity building, and educational activities. This grant will provide Oweesta the flexibility to make agile and responsive decisions in the face of the evolving needs seen in Native communities, especially as pandemic recovery phases continue to unfold across Indian Country.

“As we emerge from this moment of crisis, we have an opportunity to improve the critical systems that people and places need to thrive. Our systems and structures must be rebuilt,” said MacArthur President John Palfrey. “We are committed to ensuring that our response to the pandemic is focused on supporting the reimagining of systems that create a more just, equitable, and resilient world.” 

To advance racial and ethnic justice, MacArthur is supporting work in multiple focus areas, including: 

  • Racial Justice Field Support, with a focus on combatting anti-Blackness, supports building Black power by supporting Black-led and -focused philanthropic organizations. MacArthur also will take a leadership role in positioning reparations and racial healing as issues that philanthropy helps to meaningfully address.
  • Public Health Equity and COVID-19 Mitigation and Recovery supports improving access to resources for immediate health challenges while advancing new policies, models, and structures to support a more equitable and resilient public health sector in the future.
  • An Equitable Housing Demonstration Project supports restoring communities and reducing incarceration and housing instability by generating an array of housing solutions that can help to permanently end the use of jails and prisons as housing of last resort.

MacArthur identified the areas through a participatory process with a diverse group of external advisors, who informed its strategic approach. The participatory process aimed to center the voices of communities that are affected by the Foundation’s decisions and have a stake in the grantmaking outcomes. The Equitable Recovery initiative is funded by MacArthur’s social bonds, issued in response to the crises of the pandemic and racial inequity.

This is the first time Oweesta has received a grant from MacArthur. Almost two-thirds of the awards represent new grantee relationships, and most of the organizations are led or serving Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The grants also reflect MacArthur’s global reach with 45 percent of new funding supporting work outside of the U.S., including 12 percent in India, and 14 percent in Nigeria, where MacArthur has offices. 

Equitable Recovery Initiative 

In the fall of 2020, MacArthur established a $125 million Equitable Recovery Initiative. The Foundation deployed $40 million of bond proceeds through 24 grants. Initial grants focused on strengthening voter mobilization and election protection, addressing anti-Black racism, and supporting Native Americans impacted by COVID-19. Grants also supported Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts organizations in Chicago, technology and justice, and a fund for social entrepreneurs advancing racial equity.

View all Equitable Recovery grantees.

Media Contact

Denisse Ruiz, Communications Officer

Oweesta Corporation


About Oweesta Corporation

Oweesta Corporation provides 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 longest-standing Native CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities.

Oweesta Joins NeighborWorks America Network as Charter Member

July 19, 2021

Oweesta Joins NeighborWorks America Network as Charter Member

LONGMONT, CO — Oweesta Corporation has been selected as a charter member of the NeighborWorks America network. Oweesta is one of several organizations to join NeighborWorks and its member organizations that serve over 4,500 communities nationwide, focusing on community revitalization, homeownership expansion, and the production of affordable housing to meet the housing needs of hundreds of thousands of people.

“We are so pleased to have these organizations’ breadth of knowledge and expertise in our network,” said NeighborWorks America President & CEO Marietta Rodriguez. “At a time when becoming and staying resilient as a person and community has never been more important, these new NeighborWorks network organizations serve as trusted advisors. Every day they help residents understand all of the services and requirements available to help them own and sustain homes and provide many other services to enhance their lives.”

For more than 40 years, NeighborWorks America has served as the nation’s premier leader in affordable housing and community development working through partnerships, public and private, to drive change at the local level for individuals, families, and communities. Similarly, Oweesta partners with numerous Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to meet the needs of underserved and un-banked Native communities and create opportunities for wealth creation.

“Oweesta is honored to become a member of such an impactful and longstanding organization of affiliates, especially at a time that many Indigenous peoples look to assert our advancement in attaining homeownership on our ancestral lands,” said Chrystel Cornelius, President and CEO of Oweesta. “We have long admired NeighborWorks for uniting and uplifting committed organizations. We are better together. And together, we will strengthen our communities.”

The NeighborWorks network will increase Oweesta’s capacity to train, organize, and advocate for Native CDFIs as they grow the housing market in Indian Country through personalized counseling, homebuyer education, financing, and development of affordable housing. As a chartered member, Oweesta receives organization benefits from funding opportunities, technical assistance, training, and access to a vast network of community-based organizations.

Media Contact

Denisse Ruiz, Communications Officer

Oweesta Corporation


About Oweesta Corporation

Oweesta Corporation provides 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 longest-standing Native CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to Native CDFIs and Native communities.

About NeighborWorks America

For more than 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 240 members in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer-exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools and access to training, as the nation’s leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment and education.

Celebrating our History, and Announcing our Vision for the Future

In 2019, Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization. It was a time of deep reflection as we completed new strategic planning activities and discerned how we could best serve as an intermediary and bridge to capital in the upcoming decade. In these conversations, it was clear that Oweesta is both stronger than we have ever been and that we must continue to strive, grow, and push ourselves on behalf of the communities we serve.

Through these discussions with our Board of Directors and parent company, First Nations Development Institute, all concurred that the best way to support Oweesta’s growth was to legally separate and for Oweesta to no longer be a subsidiary of First Nations Development Institute.

Our relationship will remain a close, and Oweesta will be forever grateful for the legacy First Nations Development Institute created by their envisioning of Native Nations having equitable access to capital and investment as most of America enjoys. Both our organizations remain deeply committed to the service of Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. We also share the same set of guiding values, believing that when armed with the appropriate resources, Native people hold the capacity and ingenuity to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual and cultural well-being of their communities. It with deep gratitude to ours elders and former board members who walked before us and created and built both of these amazing Native-led non-profit organizations that we share this news.

As we look to the future, it seems like there is no better time for Oweesta to take these independent steps. In this time of great reckoning and conversation in our nation, Oweesta remains steadfast in our commitment to capitalizing and supporting the growing Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) movement. As we have seen day after day these last twenty years, Native CDFIs remain one the strongest and most impactful tools for aligning justice and capital for indigenous communities across the country. Oweesta therefore remains as excited about working with these amazing partners as we were on the day that our organization was created.

To learn more about the Oweesta of the future, we are pleased to share our 2021-2023 strategic plan. For all that Oweesta has accomplished, and for what we will in the future, we wish to express our gratitude to First Nations Development Institute, our former Board of Directors, as well as our many grassroots partners. Without your commitment, passion, and strength, we would not have come so far.

2021 VITA Marketing Toolkit

Oweesta and NDN Collective Award $1.25 Million in Grants to Native CDFIs

Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) and NDN Collective continue to stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities who remain uniquely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Together as an Indigenous-led partnership, we are awarding a combined $1,250,000 in grants to 25 Native CDFIs through our COVID-19 Grant Program. These Native CDFIs will further their roles as the economic engines for financial sovereignty in Indian country through the COVID-19 Grant Program.

These organizations have been integral in the sustaining of Indigenous businesses across the United States, from Alaska to Hawaii to Maine. When stay-at-home orders and closures were first issued, Native CDFIs quickly adapted to the emerging needs in their communities; they provided emergency relief capital, supported local businesses adapt to unforeseen supply chain issues, and offered refinancing terms for new and outstanding loans. Knowing that sustaining is not enough, they are also pivoting their business operations and policies to help their communities flourish for a new and better normal.

NACDC Financial Services based in Montana is one such CDFI who has creatively worked with their 600+ clients to ensure no business has had to close. Tourism is a main source of income for several businesses on the Blackfeet Reservation, one of the seven reservations NACDCFS services. Following the closure of the East Glacier Park, many businesses, also clients of NACDCFS, experienced significant financial loss. NACDCFS worked with their clients individually to determine repayment plans and terms and connected them with additional capital resources. They will soon move their technical assistance and trainings virtually in order to help small businesses, agriculture, and homeownership clients succeed.

Hopi Credit in Arizona, similarly, saw many self-employed Tribal members, like artists and food vendors, financially suffer from the cancellation of the Santa Fe Indian market, powwows, and other events, and realized the products and services they traditionally offered weren’t enough for the community. They offered a small business emergency loan and worked with new and existing clients to defer loans payments. Hopi Credit will use the funds to hire more staff to begin realizing their long-term vision of developing much-needed economic infrastructure on the reservation in an effort to keep money circulating within the community.

Overall, the grantees will be essential to the financial recovery of local economies. Oweesta and NDN Collective’s joint commitment to long-term community resilience and sustainability will be furthered by the work and dedication of Native CDFIs.

Use this interactive map to learn more about these grantees.

Here is a complete list of the 25 grantees.

Akiptan, IncAffiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation
Black Hills Community Loan FundChi Ishobak, Inc
Cook Inlet Lending CenterCouncil for Native Hawaiian Advancement
First American Capital Corporation (FACC)First Nations Community Financial (FNCF)
Four Bands Community FundFour Directions Development Corporation
Homestead Community Development CorporationHopi Credit Association
Lakota FundsMni Sota Fund
NACDC Financial Services, IncNative American Bank
Native American Development CorporationNimiipuu Community Development Fund
Northwest Native Development FundNixyáawii Community Financial Services
Seneca Nation of Indians Economic Development CompanySisseton Wahpeton Federal Credit Union
Spruce Root, IncWind River Development Fund
Wisconsin Native Loan Fund

New Lending Opportunities Available Now!

Working Capital and Line of Credit Loans

Oweesta is pleased to announce the launch of two new loan products immediately available to our Native CDFI industry.  Oweesta is currently accepting inquires for our new Line of Credit and Working Capital/Operating Loan. For Native CDFIs needing flexible capital sources, Oweesta is grateful to be able to offer these new loan products to our Native CDFI partners. Oweesta knows it is a challenging time for our Native CDFIs and hope the growing diversity of our capital options can provide opportunities for innovation during the difficult road ahead.

The origination fees on these loan products will be waived until August 1st in support of our communities affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Working Capital/Operating Loan

The Working Capital/Operating Loan is designed to help Native CDFIs who may be experiencing a difficult time during the Covid19 pandemic or waiting to receive grant revenue they have been awarded, but not received. With this short term temporary loan Native CDFIs can ensure their operating capital will be there when they need it. While the interest rate on this loan will—in the long-term—vary based on market conditions, it is currently between 3.0-4.0% with an origination fee of 2%.

Line of Credit

Our Line of Credit is a renewable line of credit for any of your general lending capital needs. This is a fantastic opportunity for Native CDFIs to launch an emergency loan product.  On a one-year term, the current interest rate is 3.0-4.0% with an origination fee of 1%. This loan will have either quarterly or monthly interest-only payments with the principal due at maturity.

If you are interested in either of our new loan products, please follow the link below to access the Oweesta portal for the loan application.  If you do not yet have access to the portal, please contact Isaiah Cornelius at to set up access.

For more information on these loans and how to apply, please contact Florence Ludka at


Oweesta Corporation
2432 Main Street, 1st Floor
Longmont, CO 80501

Oweesta is an equal opportunity employer and provider.


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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