By SHAWN SPRUCE
In June, the One Feather reported on an exciting educational resource recently produced for the Eastern Band, the Manage Your EBCI Money online financial education program. Created as a response to the pressing need to provide personal finance skills to Cherokee youth, the web-based curriculum was successfully piloted earlier this year with student groups who found its subject matter convenient to use, practical to apply, and relevant to their own lives.
So relevant in fact that on Sept.er 9, the EBCI Tribal Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution from the Junaluska Youth Leadership Council which will make completion of the Manage Your EBCI Money curriculum a requirement for recipients of the Minors’ Trust Fund.
EBCI Financial Skills Educator, Keith Sneed, has been the inspiration behind Manage Your EBCI Money since its inception last year and believes an online program is the best model to present money management training to tribal youth.
“The Eastern Band has been blessed with a financial windfall from Harrah’s Casino and its other business ventures, while growing per capita payments to tribal members help to highlight these accomplishments.” Sneed stated during an interview from his office at the EBCI Cooperative Extension Center.
“Unfortunately many of our children and their parents lack the skills necessary to effectively manage such large sums of money, sadly causing some families to suffer dire consequences. Manage Your EBCI Money will fill that void by giving our youth access to the quality financial education they deserve.”
Created by First Nations Development Institute, a Longmont Colorado based non-profit that specializes in personal finance training for Native communities, Manage Your EBCI Money is designed to take students about three hours to complete and includes lessons on managing a bank account, using credit responsibly, car buying and insurance, basic investing, avoiding scams, and understanding taxes. The website requires a username and pass code for security purposes and is accessible from any internet ready computer while those without web access are welcome to use computers in Sneed’s office to utilize the program. All customized lesson content which includes financial calculators, downloadable budgeting worksheets, and informational videos are specifically designed for the EBCI community and funded by a generous grant from the Administration for Native Americans.
Feedback from students who have already completed the program has been overwhelmingly positive. Cherokee High School junior, Brittany Arch (Big Cove/Wolftown), enjoyed piloting Manage Your EBCI Money and found the information valuable.
“I liked the website a lot.” Arch commented. “It taught me ways to manage my money after I graduate, such as how to make a spending plan and how to invest for my future.
In closing Sneed explained that seniors graduating in the spring of 2011 who are applying for the Minors’ Trust Fund will be the first class subject to the financial education requirement. He also stated that letters will be mailed to applicants’ households later this year with detailed instructions on how to complete the online course. In the meantime he is available to answer questions regarding the website and the new policy, and invites any enrolled member interested in checking out the site to stop by his office for a tour.
Shawn is the programs consultant for the First Nations Development Institute.