In 1990 the Meskwaki Tribe started a trust fund for its members with a lump sum payout option for youngsters on their 18th birthday. To help young people make informed decisions for their long-term financial health, two classes were offered for young people and their parents. A drawing for cool prizes was also introduced to encourage participation. Larry Lasley, Meskwaki Economic Development Director, explains. Remind me – what are the EDIES.
HOW WE DID IT: Financial Literacy is extremely important to the Meskwaki Tribe. Providing financial literacy training has been a long term goal of the Meskwaki Tribe. After purchasing Pinnacle Bank in 2009 this goal soon became reality. Several individuals who shared the desire to improve financial literacy within the community came together and formed the financial literacy committee from there the Meskwaki Financial Literacy Classes were born.
HOW WE GOT THE IDEA: Financial Literacy is recognized as a need in the Meskwaki Community. Personal financial skills are essential skills regardless of a person’s race or ethnicity, but particularly for Native American youth.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE: The committee, classroom location, trainers, funding, and curriculum all seemed to fall into place; our challenge was conveying the importance of financial literacy to the community.
HOW WE OVERCAME IT: To overcome this challenge we appealed to the cultural needs of the community. The classes began with a meal and child care was provided. In addition the curriculum was specific to Native Americans.
ADVICE TO OTHERS: From this venture we learned the importance of knowing your target audience; in doing so we reached more individuals than anticipated. Certainly having enthusiastic and supportive committee members is beneficial as well.
WHAT IS NEXT: We are committed to enhance and continue providing our financial literacy classes. We will continue to place a strong emphasis of financial education in the Meskwaki High School. Future plans include the addition of a Trust Recipient class and eventually we would like to introduce a “mini bank” into our elementary school which would teach basic saving skills.
Photo of Travis Mullen, Yolanda Pushetonequa, Sarah Murphy, Jody Fank, Delonda Pushetonequa, Larry Lasley by Randy Aiken.