Strengthening Native American Communities & Economies
Under the Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime initiative, with funding from the Ford Foundation, First Nations works with key partners in Oklahoma to build and nurture two coalitions dedicated to inclusive asset-building. First Nations coordinated this work with the goal of elevating an asset-building agenda at the state, local and tribal levels that will provide inclusive income and program strategies to ensure family economic security. Working closely with partners on the ground, First Nations helped the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC) reach out to tribes and Native nonprofits in the state and share ideas, information and innovative models with policymakers and practitioners.
In 2014, ONAC began piloting its Native Children’s Savings Account Campaign with two mini-grants to the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. First Nations also worked closely with Oklahoma Policy Institute to support the Oklahoma Assets Network (OAN) as it reached out to underserved communities in Oklahoma, identified key policy and program issues, and educated community members and policy leaders about innovative asset-building programs.
In 2014, OAN initiated a partnership with Restore Hope Ministries to offer an emergency savings program to Restore Hope clients. OAN also collaborated with Howard University Center on Race and Wealth to profile payday lending in Oklahoma. Dr. Haydar Kurban, a professor from Howard University, published Demographics of Payday Lending in Oklahoma. OAN and Dr. Kurban presented the findings from this research in April 2015 at Who Pays More: A Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma.
In 2015, the Ford Foundation granted $600,000 to First Nations for two years of continuing work on the Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime initiative in Oklahoma. Under this grant, support will be provided to ONAC and OAN into 2017.