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"Native Americans among Those Struggling"

First Nations Development Institute among Presenters at National Financial Capability Study Release Event in Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON (July 13, 2016) – The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) yesterday released the 2015 data from its National Financial Capability Study (NFCS), an effort that measures four key components of financial capability: making ends meet, planning ahead, managing financial products, and financial knowledge and decision-making. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive financial capability studies in the country.

At the release event in Washington, D.C., Sarah Dewees, Ph.D., First Nations Development Institute’s Senior Director of Research, Policy and Asset-Building Programs, shared some preliminary findings from the study and, in particular, the implications for financial education programs and policies for Native Americans. First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), based in Longmont, Colorado, is a 35-year-old Native American-created and led nonprofit organization that works to strengthen American Indian economies and communities.

“First Nations has been working on these issues for many years and we thank the FINRA Foundation for including data that is useful for American Indian and Alaska Native communities as they plan their financial education programming,” she said. “The data suggest that American Indian/Alaska Native consumers feel less confident in their financial knowledge and condition than other populations. However, for younger age groups, the gap in knowledge is smaller than for older generations, so there are some positive trends as well.”

Dewees said the 2012 data suggested that American Indians and Alaska Natives were more likely to use alternative financial services and less likely to score well on a quiz of financial knowledge. For a long time, First Nations has been designing and distributing financial education products and financial literacy efforts that specifically serve Native communities in a culturally-sensitive manner. Among these is the highly-regarded and widely-used Building Native Communities: Financial Skills for Families curriculum, available at

Dewees noted that the 2015 study is the third wave of data collection, with previous efforts taking place in 2009 and 2012. The overarching research objectives are to benchmark key indicators of financial capability and evaluate how these indicators vary with underlying demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and financial literacy characteristics. She said the 2015 wave of data includes a relatively large sample of information from American Indian and Alaska Native survey respondents, and includes questions that will help provide more information about this population’s experience managing their finances and using financial services.

The overall study – which draws on a data set comprising responses from more than 27,000 U.S. adults, found that while Americans as a whole are feeling less financial stress, making ends meet remains a daily struggle for millions —particularly women, millennials, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and those lacking a high school education.

“This research underscores the critical need for innovative strategies to equip consumers with the tools and education required to effectively manage their financial lives,” said FINRA Foundation Chairman Richard Ketchum. “My hope is that policymakers, researchers and advocates will use these findings to make more informed decisions about how to best reach underserved populations.”

Besides Ketchum and Dewees, others participating in the event included U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, and Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Financial Literacy Leader Jane Rooney. The event, hosted in conjunction with The George Washington University’s Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, took place at the university’s School of Media and Public Affairs in Washington.

The survey’s full data set, methodology and related questionnaire are available at

About First Nations Development Institute

For more than 35 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information about First Nations, visit

About the FINRA Foundation

The FINRA Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. For more information about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit


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