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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.