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Smart Money Skills and Financial Investing

First Nations Financial Education Continues

First Nations’ in-person financial education training and outreach continues strong into 2022 with the support of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and First Nations’ financial education consultant Shawn Spruce.

Understanding Credit

In early March, the Smart Money Skills workshop shared tips and guidelines on financial goal-setting and fraud awareness with members of the Muscogee Nation and staff members of the Muskogee Creek Department of Housing in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. The workshop also covered “understanding credit,” a topic that is becoming increasingly important as credit bureaus continue to refine their models to more fairly and accurately measure creditworthiness of Native consumers.

Staff at the Muskogee Creek Department of Housing in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, learned about financial skills and fraud awareness techniques they will share with families seeking housing.

Eleven participants learned about recent changes that allow certain debts related to medical bills, civil judgments, and tax liens to be deleted from credit reports, and gleaned detailed information on the latest credit score version, FICO 10.

Indeed, it is hoped that such trainings will result in improved credit scores among people in Native communities. “The information about new credit reporting procedures is very useful to our staff in assisting families pursuing homeownership goals,” said Leslie Stone, Muskogee Nation housing management manager. “It was wonderful having Shawn lead our workshop.”

Mitigating Financial Risk

Later in March, training continued in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with more targeted financial skills outreach. In partnership with Mni Sota Fund, an urban Native community development financial institution, a Building Native Communities Investing for the Future workshop was delivered.

Held in Mni Sota Fund’s ultramodern WeWork offices, the workshop featured interactive lessons and tools and resources on identifying risk, diversification, and asset allocation, empowering five community members to make well-informed investing decisions. The workshop also included a well-received session on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, including the history of crypto, how it works, and the associated risks.

The all-day Building Native Communities Investing for the Future workshop, held for staff of Mni Sota Fund, covered basic investing concepts like risk/reward, investing goals, diversification, stocks/bonds, and asset allocation.

Shawn explains that financial technology has continued to evolve, offering more opportunities to novice investors. While these opportunities may be exciting, they do present risks that investors need to be aware of. Based on this, Shawn says financial education trainings like the Invest for the Future workshop also continue to evolve in order to help more people in Native communities stay protected in a rapidly changing landscape.

Mni Sota Fund Program Director Amber Franklin said participants appreciated the timely and trustworthy information, along with the conversation, activities, and laughter. “It was helpful in understanding the range of options available in investing and how to make informed decisions,” said one participant.

First Nations looks forward to visiting more Native communities and welcoming new partnerships in expanding financial and investor education opportunities. To learn more about bringing financial education to your community, contact Shawn Spruce at agoyopi@gmail.com.