Tag Archive for: Native CDFI

Oweesta Welcomes New Chief Financial Officer

First Nations Oweesta is pleased to announce that we have hired a new Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Florence Ludka, for the organization. Florence will be responsible for the oversight of all finance related activities and the management of finance staff.

As CFO and part of the senior leadership team, Ms. Ludka will work closely with colleagues to develop and implement forward looking strategic investment and asset management strategies, corporate policy, short and long term financial plans and projections, and development and monitoring of program and fund budgets.

Prior to joining the First Nations Oweesta team, Ms. Ludka worked for the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau (Traverse City Tourism) in Traverse City, Michigan for over 16 years as the Director of Finance and Technology. During her tenure at Traverse City Tourism, Ms. Ludka procured expertise and experience in non-profit accounting, compliance and auditing practices. In addition, Ms. Ludka possesses extensive IT experience in CRM/database management, administration, coaching and training.

Ms. Ludka holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, a Bachelor of Science in public accounting and an Associates of Science in technical accounting. Ms. Ludka completed her undergraduate studies at Lake Superior State University where she later returned as an adjunct accounting faculty member teaching accounting principles, intermediate accounting, auditing, advanced accounting and federal taxation. Currently, Ms. Ludka is in her second year of a six-year Ojibwe language pane immersion program.

Ms. Ludka is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan.

New Class of Opportunity Fellows Welcomed to Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, AL, March 8, 2017— BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network on Tuesday welcome their inaugural class of 25 Opportunity Fellows to Birmingham for a three-day training session where they’ll explore how to lead the change necessary to give underserved communities equal access to capital. First Nations Oweesta Corporation’s Heather Rademacher Taylor is one of the professionals selected for the program

“We are honored to have Heather Rademacher Taylor selected to participate in this prestigious program,” said Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of First Nations Oweesta Corporation.

BBVA Compass and Opportunity Finance Network joined forces in October to develop the Opportunity Fellows Program. The program is designed to boost the leadership ranks and spur the transformation of Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, which are critical engines of opportunity in low-income communities. Nationally recognized experts in the field of community development chose the 25 Opportunity Fellows from nearly 100 highly qualified applicants, and together they represent emerging, mid-career and executive-level professionals from CDFIs across the country. Heather Rademacher Taylor was selected to participate in the Emerging level.

“This innovative and robust leadership program brings together participants with different levels of experience with a common goal: to increase opportunity for all people and in all communities across the country,” said Pam Porter, Executive Vice President, Strategic Consulting at OFN. “We congratulate the 25 Opportunity Fellows, and we thank BBVA Compass for recognizing the impact this program will have and for its generous support.”

The Opportunity Fellows Program provides nine months of training with world-class experts in leadership and racial equity from the University of Alabama Collat School of Business and Race Matters Institute. The program kicks off this week at the BBVA Compass headquarters in Birmingham, where participants will engage in interactive activities and experiences, and will learn from other leaders in microfinance. They will also spend time with experts to better understand the patterns and causes behind the growing inequity in racial and ethnic minorities, as well as tour the Innovation Depot business incubator.

“We could not be more proud of this leadership program, and of these participants,” said BBVA Compass Director of Corporate Responsibility and Reputation Reymundo Ocañas. “We know that by investing in their future, we’re investing in the future of all of our communities. These are the leaders of organizations who put capital to work directly in low- to moderate-income communities. The idea is to arm them with the tools and skills they need to flourish in this impactful field of community-oriented finance.”

A complete list of participants is available at: http://ofn.org/opportunity-fellows


About First Nations Oweesta Corporation
About First Nations Oweesta Corporation First Nations Oweesta Corporation was created 16 years ago to address the lack of capital and financial infrastructure holding back economic development in Native communities as 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 oweesta.org.

About BBVA Compass
BBVA Compass is a Sunbelt-based financial institution that operates 672 branches, including 344 in Texas, 89 in Alabama, 75 in Arizona, 62 in California, 45 in Florida, 38 in Colorado and 19 in New Mexico. BBVA Compass ranks among the top 25 largest U.S. commercial banks based on deposit market share and ranks among the largest banks in Alabama (2nd), Texas (4th) and Arizona (5th). BBVA Compass was recently named Best Digital Bank in North America by global finance magazine Euromoney and the best regional bank in the South & West and best mobile app in Money magazine’s 2015-2016 list of the Best Banks in America. Additional information about BBVA Compass can be found at bbvacompass.com, by following @BBVACompassNews on Twitter or visiting newsroom.bbvacompass.com.

About OFN
Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), the leading national network of private financial institutions, creates growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals, and the economy. Members of OFN are community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that deliver responsible lending to help low-wealth and low-income communities join the economic mainstream. Through 2015 OFN’s network originated $48 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native American communities. This financing has helped to create or maintain more than 1,044,000 jobs, start or expand nearly 191,000 businesses and microenterprises, and support the development or rehabilitation of nearly 1.5 million housing units and 9,800 community facility projects. For more information, visit ofn.org.

11th Annual EITC Awareness Day

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other important refundable tax credits, including the Premium Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Tax Credit are federal tax refunds available to millions of low to moderate income individuals and families. The IRS estimates that up to 25 percent of eligible taxpayers nationwide neglect to claim the credit because they do not know these credits exist.

To learn more about EITC and other refundable tax credits, or find the location near you, call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887, or visit www.irs.gov/eitc to determine if you qualify by answering a few questions using the EITC Assistant.

How can you raise awareness in your community? Here are 5 ways from the Get It Back Campaign and Center for Economic Development to raise EITC Awareness:

  1. Post this on social media
  2. Join the EITC Awareness Day Thunderclap
  3. Use CFED’s EITC Day Toolkit with sample social media posts, state data snapshots that explain the impact of EITC, and more
  4. Share community-specific news releases and other IRS EITC Awareness Day resources

Help people find out how much their EITC could be worth

KeyBank Partnership

Chrystel Cornelius of First Nations Oweesta Corporation Awarded Local Economy Fellowship, Joins North American Leadership Network

Oakland, CA – Thirty-six leaders representing innovative community and economic development solutions in 29 U.S. and Canadian cities have been selected to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economy’s (BALLE)  fourth cohort of Local Economy Fellows.

These are leaders with fierce love for their communities – a love that they’re each putting to work in ways that bring equity, opportunity, capital, and support to small local businesses and the diverse populations in every community they serve.

Locally, Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of First Nations Oweesta Corporation in Longmont, Colorado, was named to the fellowship. Chrystel is empowering Native American communities, using a CDFI model to build wealth and economic independence among tribal communities across the U.S.

“The leaders selected for this cohort represent the direction we believe we need to go as a nation and as a planet,” said BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long. “Each of the 2016 Fellows are working to bring more accountability, personal relationships, and compassion to business. Collectively we see in this group the seeds of an economic system that serves life, rather than the other way around.”

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is the only program of its kind in North America focused on advancing local economies. This immersive, 18-month program equips local economy innovators with leadership and capacity-building skills, a peer network of leaders and funders across North America, and a national platform illuminating their models for other communities. By building this network and offering a curriculum of transformative personal and professional development, BALLE aims to catalyze the emergence of an equitable new economy.

BALLE Local Economy Fellows are selected based on their vision, leadership, and their roles as strategic connectors of thousands of local businesses.

Given what we know about the power of small businesses in North America – they are proven to increase local civic engagement, create 60-90 percent of net new jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and represent about half of U.S. and Canadian GDP (about $9.5 trillion) – it is no exaggeration to say that BALLE Fellows and leaders like them are transforming the bedrock of our economy.

The 2016 cohort directly serves more than 52,400 local businesses. Four fellows working through regional governments or focused on leveraging public dollars and policy – a new focus area of the BALLE Fellowship program – impact an additional 471,200 businesses through their work.

Other focus areas of this cohort include leaders who are advancing entrepreneurship and opportunity in under-resourced communities and communities of color, advancing cooperative development and worker ownership, transitioning post-coal Appalachia, and bringing conversations about well-being, equity, and health to board rooms, funding models, and networks of small businesses.

“BALLE Local Economy Fellows aren’t waiting for big government or big business to step in and fix all that ails a dying system – instead they are working to change economies right where they are, starting with the tools and resources they have:  human capital, resourcefulness, and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Shawn Escoffery, Director of the Strong Local Economies Program for the Surdna Foundation.

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is made possible in partnership with the Christiano Family Fund, Kalliopeia Foundation, Kendeda Fund, NoVo Foundation, One 4 All (a donor advised fund of Proteus Fund), Surdna Foundation, Swift Family Foundation, two anonymous donors, and many generous individual supporters.

First Nations and Oweesta Revise Building Native Communities Curriculum and Unveil New Web Resource for Native Financial Educators

LONGMONT, Colorado (April 29, 2016) – In honor of April being National Financial Literacy Month, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and First Nations Oweesta Corporation (Oweesta) have jointly released the 5th edition of the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum. The revised curriculum includes an updated Participant Workbook and Instructor Guide, as well as a BNC_Financial_Cover_Fifth_Editionnew website at www.BNCweb.org, a comprehensive online portal for Native financial educators and practitioners.

First Nations partnered with Oweesta to convene an advisory committee to revise the Building Native Communities Participant Workbook.  Funded by the Rose Foundation and the AMB Foundation, the workbook has new content that incorporates feedback from the advisory group and addresses changing technology.  There are new sections that cover topics like online banking, consumer savvy (recognizing persuasion tactics), and constructing a record-keeping system. The revision team also removed outdated material and greatly enhanced the math content of the workbook. New “Money Math” activities throughout the workbook help students apply what they have learned.  In addition, the revised workbook includes new illustrations, photos, infographics and charts. The resulting workbook has a more modern and visual feel.

Oweesta and First Nations also updated the Instructor Guide that accompanies the Building Native Communities curriculum.  New chapters address training techniques, learning styles for various demographics, financial education program design, and best practices for financial education classes.

Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families is a culturally-appropriate guide to financial education in Native American communities that helps individuals make informed financial decisions for themselves, their families and their communities.  Since the release of the first edition of the curriculum in 2000,Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families has become the leading financial education curriculum in Indian Country.  To date, First Nations and Oweesta have distributed more than 18,000 copies of the Financial Skills for Families workbook, and over 1,400 leaders from 28 states have become certified trainers through nearly 60 Oweesta/First Nations Train-the-Trainer events.

Additionally, First Nations and Oweesta launched the new financial education web portal BNCweb.org.  BNCweb.org serves as a resource center for Native finaBNCWeb500ncial education practitioners and educators.  The site contains our suite of financial education curricula, downloadable instructor guides, trainer tools, research and publications, and additional materials. The website also contains links to the My Green campaign, the investnativeonline.org website, and videos and materials that can assist financial educators.  All resources will be in a centralized location and will address topics such as Minor’s Trust Accounts (training resources, research, etc.), investing, and working with youth.  These efforts were funded by the Rose Foundation and Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

“The revised fifth edition of the Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families workbook is a great resource,” shared Sarah Dewees, Senior Director of Research, Policy and Asset-Building Programs at First Nations. “The input from the advisory committee ensured that the new curriculum is timely, relevant and easy to use.” Krystal Langholz, Chief Operating Officer of First Nations Oweesta Corporation, stated, “We look forward to rolling out this new edition with revised train-the-trainer workshops and several webinars to introduce people to the new information.” Chrystel Cornelius, Executive Director of Oweesta, shared, “The new www.BNCweb.org portal is a great resource for Native financial educators. We have designed it to provide a range of tools to support effective financial education.”

The BNCweb.org website is live and can be accessed by visiting www.BNCweb.org. To download a free PDF copy of the new Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families participant workbook, visit the curriculum page on www.BNCweb.org, or the trainer’s tools page for the Instructor Guide. To pre-order copies of the workbook, contact Chris Hansen at chris@oweesta.org or (303) 774-8838.

About First Nations Development Institute

For more than 35 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.  First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.

About First Nations Oweesta Corporation

First Nations Oweesta Corporation was created 15 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 sover eignty for all Native communities.  For more information, visit www.oweesta.org.


Program Contacts:
Sarah Dewees, First Nations Senior Director of Research, Policy & Asset-Building Programs
sdewees@firstnations.org or (540) 371-5615

Media Contacts: 
Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer
rblauvelt@firstnations.org or (303) 774-7836 x213

Bank of America’s Better Money Habits