Since 2012, 586 Warm Springs community members have taken WSCAT’s financial empowerment courses, including 517 who have taken Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families. 483 have graduated from these courses, including over 100 youth. Our courses help participants develop good savings habits, manage money wisely, open a bank account, and gain a better understanding of credit, setting themselves up for financial success.
The Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families course, which occurs quarterly, was developed by the First Nations Development Institute and First Nations Oweesta Corporation. Financial Skills for Families is open to all Warm Springs community members, and is required for people participating in our individual development account program. The course is divided into the following six 2-hour long sessions, which usually occur in the WSCAT Conference Room:
- Session 1: Building a Healthy Economy – topics include resource management strategies, the flow of money through the economy, building a healthier economy, advertising influences, and being a savvy consumer
- Session 2: Developing a Spending Plan – topics include determining your money culture, developing savings goals, developing a spending plan, and developing a financial record keeping system
- Session 3: Working with Checking and Savings Accounts – topics include checking and savings, opening an account, using and managing a bank account, tools and technology to manage accounts, and identity theft protection
- Session 4: Understanding Credit and Your Credit Report – topics include the importance of credit, your credit history, reading and analyzing credit reports, building and maintaining credit, FICO score, and understanding collection laws and your rights
- Session 5: Using Credit – topics include the lending process, the “five Cs of credit”, loan applications, and understanding loan rates, terms, and fees
- Session 6: Being a Smart Consumer – topics include different types of financial institutions, being a savvy consumer, the importance of insurance, and financial goals in your life
Self-paced Computer-Based Instruction
Because the WSCAT conference room is relatively small, we usually limit attendance in the Financial Skills for Families course to the first 12 individuals signing up each quarter. For IDA program participants who work or are otherwise unavailable during course hours, we also use an online Self-Paced Curriculum through Save First Financial Wellness as a means of meeting the program’s financial education requirement. This course, which is available online, features game-based learning design and separate learning tracks for adults and young adults. More information about the course can be found here. Once participants complete the course, they meet with a financial counselor to ensure understanding of the material and answer any questions.
Credit Counseling and Coaching
We provide credit counseling to help community members develop strategies to actively improve credit scores or establish credit. Our credit counselors provide direct one-on-one financial and credit counseling for community members. In partnership with clients, we develop credit action plans; provide credit building and credit repair counseling; work with clients to assist them in understanding their credit reports and developing strategies to improve their credit scores and creditworthiness; and negotiate with creditors for debt reduction and repayment agreements. If clients have no credit, for example they are a youth with no credit history, credit counselors will work with them to understand credit and build credit wisely.