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  • 01 Dec 2021 8:17 PM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    News Release

    Contact: Christy Finsel, cfinsel@oknativeassets.org(405) 720-0770 

    December 1, 2021                                                           

    Paper Released and Event on Friday, December 3, 2021: Distributing Emergency Cash Assistance to Native Families During a Pandemic

    Today, the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc. (ONAC), is releasing a paper titled, “Distributing Emergency Cash Assistance to Native Families During a Pandemic.”

    This publication provides insight and lessons learned regarding the direct distribution of emergency funds to Native families during a pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ONAC, a Native-led nonprofit serving Native communities across the U.S., has provided emergency cash assistance payments ($500 per applicant) to American Indian and Alaska Native families. In total, ONAC raised funds to support 1,070 families. ONAC worked in partnership with 23 tribes and Native-led nonprofit partners to provide the outreach and referrals for the payments that were distributed to tribal citizens residing in 28 states. 

    Through this program, ONAC distributed the funds by checks made payable to the applicants or through ACH transfers to applicants’ bank accounts. As part of the application, ONAC provided Bank On information for those who were not banked and may have wanted to become so as part of the emergency cash assistance program. In addition, ONAC provided free financial coaching for those interested in the service. The effort to distribute emergency cash was met with much gratitude from recipients, but also faced a variety of challenges along the way. This case example highlights both lessons learned and the importance of adequate funding of Native-led nonprofits  - the organizations that are most closely connected with their community members and aware of the areas where community need is greatest. 

    ONAC is grateful to the following twenty-three tribal governments and Native-led nonprofits that provided referrals to us for emergency cash assistance: Four Directions Development Corporation, Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority, The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, Nixyaawii Community Financial Services, Osage Financial Resources, Inc., Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation, Wisconsin Native Loan Fund, Chickasaw Nation, White Earth Investment Initiative, The United Houma Nation, Cherokee Nation, Sac and Fox Nation, Seldovia Village Tribe, Absentee Shawnee Housing Authority, Lakota Funds, Modoc Nation, and anonymous Native referral partners in Oklahoma, Montana, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Nebraska. 

    To download a copy of the paper, go to https://bit.ly/ONACecash.

    On Friday, December 3, 2021, from 2:00 – 3:30 pm Eastern Time, ONAC and Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) are hosting a panel discussion for philanthropy on effective strategies for distributing emergency assistance to Native families. Foundations, grantmakers, other funders, and Native asset building practitioners are invited to join ONAC and NAP for a panel discussion about the value of intermediary funders and movement infrastructure, and the role partners can play in supporting Native communities. The discussion will feature Edgar Villanueva from the Decolonizing Wealth Project, Lisa Price from the Wells Fargo Foundation, and Christy Finsel from ONAC, and will be moderated by NAP’s CEO, Erik Stegman. 

    To register for the event, go to https://nativephilanthropy.org/event/emergency-fund-distribution/

    About the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition Inc.: The Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition Inc. (ONAC), first organized in 2001 and a nonprofit since 2014, is a nationally-serving Native-led asset building coalition that acts as intermediary funder, direct service provider, and as a capacity builder (conducting national Native asset building research and providing training and technical assistance to tribes and Native-led nonprofits). ONAC’s mission is to build and support a network of Native people who are dedicated to increasing self-sufficiency and prosperity in their communities through the establishment of integrated culturally relevant financial education and financial coaching initiatives, as well as seed funded account programs, down payment assistance, free tax preparation, expanded banking access, and other asset-building strategies. For more information about the coalition, go to https://www.oknativeassets.org/

    Here is a link to the slides for the presentation:ONAC and Native Americans in Philanthropy Co-Hosted Webinar to Promote ONAC's Release of the Paper: Distributing Emergency Cash Assistance to Native Families During a Pandemic 


  • 28 Oct 2021 7:20 AM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    On October 28, 2021, ONAC is presenting information about national Native Child Tax Credit outreach during the HHS Region 1 Tribal quarterly meeting.

    Agenda: ONAC presentation during the HHS Region 1 Tribal Quarterly Meeting and Child Tax Credit DiscussionONAC presentation slides; and ONAC remarks.

    We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the meeting. 


  • 26 Oct 2021 5:44 AM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    On October 25, 2021, Christy Finsel, ONAC Executive Director, presented information about ONAC's work during a Global Housing Foundation's conference, in celebration of United Nations Day.

    The Global Housing Foundation, in Partnership with UN Habitat, hosted the conference, "The Future of Workforce Housing is Now: Innovative, Creative & Sustainable Solutions from Around the World".

    ONAC, as an invited speaker, presented a micro-conference session entitled, "Innovations: Connecting Down Payment Assistance to Other Integrated Native Asset Building Programs."   

    ONAC's remarks begin @ 2:04:55: https://globalhousing.net/unday2021/ 

  • 21 Oct 2021 1:06 PM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    Join us for a FDIC webinar on November 10, 2021. During the webinar, ONAC will discuss Native Bank On ONAC, messaging to the unbanked and underbanked, and the Get Banked Indian Country campaign. We will also hear from two financial institutions that have a Bank On certified account.

    Agenda: Economic Inclusion for Native Americans: Access to Safe and Affordable Accounts.

    Go here to register: https://web.cvent.com/event/ce080f6e-b407-4acf-a3da-3dd58ce78425/summary

  • 15 Oct 2021 8:37 AM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    Investing for the Future Zoom Train-the-Trainer Workshop

    Back by popular demand, First Nations Development Institute, with support from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc. (ONAC), is pleased to announce a virtual Investing for the Future Train-the-Trainer Workshop. This workshop is a three-day investor education certification workshop that offers in-depth instruction on the Investing for the Future curriculum, workbook, and related training materials. As part of the Building Native Communities curriculum series, Investing for the Future provides resources and tools for trainers to teach basic investing classes and workshops in an interactive virtual format. It's also a cutting-edge approach for introducing Native communities to concepts like stocks and bonds, planning for retirement, as well as using caution when considering risky trends like crowd investing, cryptocurrencies, and meme stocks. Space is limited, so reserve your spot now. For more information, please contact Shawn Spruce at agoyopi@gmail.com, or Christy Finsel, ONAC Executive Director, at cfinsel@oknativeassets.org. This training is available to trainers across the U.S. 

    What: Investing for the Future Train-the-Trainer

    When: November 8th-10th, 2021

    Time: 10 am to 2 pm (MST) Daily

     

  • 15 Oct 2021 8:33 AM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    On October 14, 2021, the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc. (ONAC) co-hosted a training with Code for America to provide information on how to help Native families claim their Child Tax Credit (CTC) and missing stimulus payments.

    Why is ONAC interested in helping Native families claim their CTC? We care because the CTC helps reduce child poverty among Native children. (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/03/11/new-child-tax-credit-could-slash-poverty-now-and-boost-social-mobility-later/).

    Tribal governments and Native-led nonprofits may be interested in helping Native families claim their CTC and/or missing stimulus payments by directing them to the GetCTC.org non-filer tool. The GetCTC.org portal is open until November 15, 2021 (while the IRS non-filer portal closes October 15, 2021).

    GetCTC.org is an IRS-approved official E-file provider. The portal was made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Treasury and the White House, to try to help people claim the advance Child Tax Credit payments (https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0322).

    If you are interested in connecting tribal citizens to this portal, as a GetCTC.org navigator, we are sharing the following resources from the training:

    · Recording of yesterday's presentation

    · Presentation slides

    · Navigator resource page: GetCTC.org/navigators

    · Recommended outreach materials

    o Social Press Kit's outreach toolkit

    o Center on Budget and Policy Priorities toolkit

    If those assisting with CTC navigator outreach have additional questions, they can join Code for America for their regularly scheduled Navigator Q&A session every other Friday from 2-3 pm ET. The next one is today, October 15th. They accept registrations to join up until the time the Q&A sessions begin. 

    Tribal governments and Native-led nonprofits might be interested in tracking their CTC outreach by requesting an unique URL through GetCTC.org. It only takes a few minutes to complete the request for a unique URL. For those not interested in tracking their outreach, if you need a link, here is ONAC's URL: www.GetCTC.org/ONACor you may direct tribal citizens to www.GetCTC.org (with no outreach tracking). From ONAC's perspective, we are interested in getting the word out about the benefits of claiming the CTC, and in helping build the capacity of others interested in these time-sensitive outreach efforts. Thus, our interest in co-hosting the training yesterday to try to get as many Native navigators prepared to share information about the non-filer tool. Please know that you can help direct individuals to the portal even if you are not a tax preparer.

    Having a checking or savings account will help Native families to gain a safe place to deposit their advance Child Tax Credit payments and missing stimulus payments. Attached is a flyer we generated this week, as part of the ONAC Get Banked Indian Country initiative, that provides information about the CTC and suggestions for opening a safe and affordable bank account.

    Here is the contact information for our contact at Code for America, in case you have questions about GetCTC.org outreach:

    Courtney O'Reilly, Navigator Program Manager, GetYourRefund

    Coreilly@codeforamerica.org// c: 909.702.6555

    Learn more about Code for America and GetYourRefund

    If you need additional information from ONAC, please let us know.

    The ONAC Team

  • 08 Oct 2021 1:56 PM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    Are you interested in providing information to Native families about how to claim their Child Tax Credit (CTC) and missing stimulus payments? 

    If so, ONAC and Code for America invite you to participate in a CTC navigator webinar on Thursday, October 14, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. HST/11:00 a.m. AKDT/Noon PDT/1:00 p.m. MDT/2:00 p.m. CDT/3:00 p.m. EDT. To register for the webinar, go to: https://codeforamerica.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_--POuuYFTImgpDd3cLwZEA

    It helps to have a bank account to receive CTC and missing stimulus payments. Searching for an FDIC-insured bank in your area? Go to: https://banks.data.fdic.gov/bankfind-suite/bankfind Let’s Get Banked Indian Country! It will help us claim our CTC payments. 

    As part of ONAC’s Get Banked Indian Country initiative and its support of Native Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs, through administration of the national ONAC Native EITC/VITA Network and subgrants to Native VITA programs, ONAC is co-hosting a webinar with Code for America about their https://www.getctc.org/en non-filer portal product and how you may help Native families claim their Child Tax Credit and missing stimulus payments by competing a simplified tax filing on GetCTC.org.

    GetCTC.org is an IRS-approved official E-file provider. The portal was made in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Treasury and the White House, to try to help people claim the advance Child Tax Credit payments. See https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0322 for more information.

    Code for America is trying to get the word out about their GetCTC.org non-filer portal, especially, as the IRS non-filer portal will close by October 15, 2021. The GetCTC.org non-filer portal will be available until November 15, 2021.

    GetCTC.org welcomes community members, tribes, and Native-led nonprofits that are interested in sharing information about the GetCTC.org portal with those in their communities, to direct individuals to the GetCTC.org site as outreach providers or navigators. You can help direct individuals to the portal even if you are not a tax preparer.

    To learn more about the GetCTC.org tool, and how to direct Native families to this portal, please join the webinar on Thursday, October 14, 2021.

    This webinar will cover:

    1. The basics about the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the benefits of the CTC to Native families

    2. What is the GetCTC.org non-filer portal?

    3. How does GetCTC.org work?

    4. What does the GetCTC.org navigator role entail?

    5. What resources are available for GetCTC.org navigators?

    To register for the webinar, go to: https://codeforamerica.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_--POuuYFTImgpDd3cLwZEA 

    If you have any questions about the webinar, contact Christy Finsel, ONAC Executive Director, at cfinsel@oknativeassets.org.

  • 02 Oct 2021 8:19 AM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    ONAC Administers a Variety of Native Financial Capability and Asset Building Programs

    While keeping its name, ONAC serves as a national Native-led nonprofit. ONAC was formed in 2001 and is celebrating its 20th year as a Native asset building coalition.

    ONAC wears a variety of hats. Our coalition operates as an intermediary funder; a direct service provider (administering Children's Savings Account, emergency savings account, emergency cash assistance, financial coaching, down payment assistance, Banked On incentive programs, and Native Child Tax Credit outreach); a national coordinator of two Native asset building networks - the Native EITC/VITA Network and Native Bank On ONAC; a provider of training and TA to help tribes and other Native-led nonprofits administer their own asset building programs; and ONAC conducts national Native financial capability and asset building research. 

    Intermediary Funder: ONAC is an intermediary funder and awards mini-grants for Native asset builders to fund various asset building programs (ONAC has grant administration systems in place, provides technical assistance to grantees, and has funded forty-four grants, $263,400 total, since 2014, to tribes and Native nonprofits in Oklahoma, Maine, North Carolina, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Alaska). ONAC will soon fund nine more grants to Native VITA programs that are engaged in Child Tax Credit outreach. 

    Direct Service Provider:

    Children’s Savings Accounts, CSAs (opening and funding CSAs for Native youth to help them build a nest egg of savings). For this program, ONAC works with twenty-four tribal and Native nonprofit partners to host account opening events. To date, ONAC has funded 1,064 accounts (1,017 directly opened and funded by ONAC and tribal partners and 47 more CSAs funded through recent awards that ONAC made to two grantees). These accounts help address the racial wealth gap and low college graduation rates in Indian Country (only 14% of American Indian students age 25 or older have a college degree-less than half the national average, according to the American Indian College Fund).  Instilling young people with the habit of saving is proven to have long-term benefits. In The College Savings Initiative, a joint project between the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis and the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, researchers found that “in multivariate analysis, youth who expect to graduate from a four-year college and have an account are about seven times more likely to attend college than youth who expect to graduate from a four-year college but do not have an account.” (Elliott, W. and Beverly, S. (2010). The Role of Savings and Wealth in Reducing “Wilt” between Expectations and College Attendance.  Journal of Children & Poverty, 17(2), 165-185. Also available at https://csd.wustl.edu/Publications/Documents/WP10-01.pdf.)

    The Children’s Savings Accounts are primarily opened through 529 Savings Plans and are culturally-relevant. We provide Native-specific financial education, a Native arts project as part of the account opening events, and a food sovereignty component by providing organic gardening seeds to the youth who are opening CSAs. We have the capacity to open CSAs for Native youth regardless where they live in the United States.   

    ONAC believes there is benefit to offering the financial education to the youth and parents along with the hands-on opportunity of opening and managing a mainstream college savings account. (ONAC provides the initial seed deposit of $100 per account).  With help opening the accounts and the seed deposit, the families have a mechanism for college savings and are motivated to save for their child’s post-secondary education costs. Through this process, the families grow their financial capability, the parents may increase their expectations that their child will go to college, and the youth may think it is more of an option for them to go to college (aspirational change). These account help create a pipeline to college. 

    As part of the program, the youth receive a culturally-relevant financial education booklet.  In the booklet, the youth guide a coin through a maze to a piggy bank; enjoy a word find as they search for words describing tribal assets (culture, language, land, regalia, community, family, homes, land); complete sentences about tribes and their CSA; count coins and match the totals to amounts listed; note their future savings goals; think about a history of saving in their families and tribes and describe how they want to share with others now and in the future; list the tribes in Oklahoma and mark where their tribal seat of government is located (focusing on tribal sovereignty as a Native asset); and draw assets of value to them. With parental permission, ONAC has included artwork in an ONAC desk calendar to promote talking about assets throughout the year. In the future, we would like to have an art exhibit to showcase the artwork from Native youth in the program.

    As of January 2019, ONAC also funded Native child savings initiatives in North Carolina and Montana.  

    Click here to access an interim ONAC CSA report. 

    In January 2020, ONAC published a report on Native Children's Savings Initiatives in the United States. 

    Emergency Savings Accounts, ESAs, (In total, from May 2015 to December 2021, ONAC has secured funding for 678 ESAs and funded 676 ESAs, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Administration for Native Americans, private donors, and the Wells Fargo Foundation. ONAC will fund 2 remaining Wells Fargo Foundation-funded ESAs by December 2021). These accounts provide a nest egg of savings for Native families and are a step along the road to financial security. Click here to access an interim ONAC ESA data report. 

    Emergency cash assistance, (as of May 15, 2020, ONAC received funding to provide emergency cash assistance to 1,070 Native families experiencing financial distress during the COVID-19 pandemic. ONAC is the offering the first Native-led emergency cash assistance program that directly serves Native families across the country, equitably by region. ONAC worked with a list of tribal and Native-led nonprofit partners for referrals for these funds). To help ONAC serve more Native families, please consider making a donation at https://give.classy.org/COVIDONAC. 

    Financial coaching including one-on-one credit counseling, homebuyer education, and basic budgeting, (ONAC is providing these free one-on-one services, by appointment, via phone and teleconference to Native families).  Since June 2020, ONAC has been offering three types of free financial coaching to tribal citizens across the United States: 1) credit counseling, 2) homebuyer education, and 3) financial management (i.e. budgeting).  Confidential sessions are offered one-on-one, by teleconference (Zoom) or phone call, with a certified credit counselor, homebuyer education provider, and financial educator, Felecia Freeman (Citizen Potawatomi). Typically, these sessions will last for an hour and are scheduled at a mutually agreeable time. If you are working with tribal citizens that would like to receive these free ONAC financial coaching services from a Native certified financial coach, you are welcome to pass along the registration link provided below to those tribal citizens you serve. Tribal citizens who are interested in such services may then complete the registration form. From there, our financial coach will work with them to schedule a remote session by phone or teleconference. This financial coaching is available to any American Indian or Alaska Native in the United States, regardless of where they reside. Here is a link to a flyer containing this same information.  Financial coaching registration link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ONACcounselingregistration 

    Down payment assistance (ONAC will provide down payment assistance to 125 families over a 48-month period beginning in 2021). 

    Incentivizing Bank On accounts for tribal citizens interested in opening safe and affordable accounts (completed a pilot and will be funding more accounts soon).  

    Coordinator of Two National Native Asset Building Networks:

    1). ONAC administers the Native EITC/VITA Network which is comprised of Native VITA site coordinators and advocates. The purpose of the network is to share resources and opportunities, to provide a platform for interaction among Native site coordinators, and to bring concerns from Native VITA sites to appropriate parties.  To complete the ONAC Native EITC/VITA survey and/or to join the related directory, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ONACVITA.  Those interested in joining the network may contact Patsy Schramm, ONAC Native EITC/VITA Coordinator, at edgpj@aol.com.

    2). ONAC administers the national Native Bank On ONAC initiative to connect tribal citizens to Bank On certified accounts and has launched the related Get Banked Indian Country campaign to promote access to safe and affordable accounts for tribal citizens. To learn more about the Get Banked Indian Country initiative and the related Native Bank On ONAC initiative, contact Karen Edwards, Native Bank On ONAC Coordinator, at kedwards@oknativeassets.org. 

    Related to the coordination of both of these national Native initiatives, ONAC is also providing advanced Child Tax Credit outreach to connect Native families to the IRS non-filer portal and www.GetCTC.org/ONAC. ONAC is providing national Native CTC outreach and linking such efforts to the Get Banked Indian Country initiative. 

    Training and Technical Assistance and Financial Capability and Asset Building Webinar Series: ONAC provides professional development for Native asset builders by offering training and technical assistance to assist asset building practitioners as they offer Native-specific financial education and financial coaching and design and administer matched savings, CSAs, ESAs, emergency cash assistance, and other asset building programs.  ONAC provides webinars about Native banking access; frauds and scams in Indian Country; distributing emergency cash assistance and reparation payments to tribal communities; Native asset building programs and how they promote racial equity; culturally relevant financial coaching in Native communities; etc.

    National Native Asset Building Research: ONAC has published Native asset building research on: efforts of Native women entrepreneurs to close the women's wealth gap; documentation of all Native child savings initiatives in the U.S. (IDAs, CSAs, and minor trust funds); and implications of various CSA program design models on financial aid and asset limits for those receiving public aid and seed-funded CSAs. ONAC also published a recent resource guide on funding, peer networking, and training opportunities available for Native entrepreneurs. As part of the CSA program, ONAC generated a guide for parents managing 529 college savings accounts. During 2020, ONAC provided video and online resource guides for  how to take VITA and financial education and financial coaching provision remote during a pandemic. In September 2021, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Aspen Institute published an essay authored by ONAC in The Future of Building Wealth: Brief Essays on the Best Ideas to Build Wealth - for Everyone (available for download at FutureofWealth.org.) Currently, ONAC is finishing research projects lessons learned from the ONAC emergency cash assistance program; the need for asset building practitioners to be at the table for conversations about reparations; the role of fintech in Native asset building service delivery; and Native asset building work as part of racial equity agendas.


  • 23 Sep 2021 8:00 AM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    The Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc. (ONAC) has partnered with IRS Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communication (SPEC) and agreed to post a link on our website to On-Line Taxes, Inc. 

    For the next tax season, if you are a filing a simple return, you are invited to file your state and federal returns, for free, by using this On-Line Taxes, Inc. link: https://www.olt.com/main/vita/getstarted.asp?affiliate=VITAFREE&linkID=S27091832

    Please note: If you, or someone you know, have an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less, you may complete your federal and state returns for free, via On-Line Taxes, Inc. 

    For those wishing to file via a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, you may search for sites near you at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-qualifying-taxpayers. 

    After you select the link above, scroll down to Find a VITA or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Site Near You. You will need to use both the VITA/TCE Locator Tool, as well as the AARP Tax-Aide Site Locator Tools to obtain a complete list. 

  • 02 Sep 2021 6:00 PM | Christy Finsel (Administrator)

    The Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, Inc. (ONAC) wishes to thank Indian Country Today for the opportunity to speak about several of ONAC's programs. The interview, with colleague Felecia Freeman, is included in this newscast:https://indiancountrytoday.com/newscasts/christy-finsel-09-02-2021


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