By JONAH LOSSIAH
Staff with a feather
If you or your child participates in the EBCI Trust Fund for Minors, you can now view your account progress online.
In an effort to increase financial literacy, EBCI’s Office of Budget and Finance has developed a website with USI Consulting (usicg.com) for anyone participating in the Juvenile Trust Fund. The site launched in early August aims to provide access to those who will receive a per capita distribution.
Lavita Hill, treasury specialist at EBCI’s Office of Budget and Finance, said it was a step towards transparency and education. She said that although she is currently sending a quarterly report to all participants in the Juvenile Trust Fund, it will be unprecedented access. She also said that about a third of these current quarterly reports are being rejected due to incorrect addresses.
“It’s a huge asset for any participant. It’s something they should care about and be proud of. They should be watching it just to say ‘yes you are doing great with my fund’ or they might even come back and say ‘this is not working I have questions’. We should always question things, ”Hill said.
“We offer them transparency to see their account. Here are your numbers, in real time. If there is a hollow, they will see it. When there are increases, they will see it. Just to have the education to say, “this is my account, I know what’s going on with”. For me, it’s so monumental.
Hill said that while the website is already providing a valuable service, one of the most important parts of the project is expected to get underway next month.
“What’s coming up is that we recently signed a contract with a company called StockTrak, and they’re going to add an educational component to that website that will also be free. It is aimed at the fourth year and up. So start them young and encourage financial literacy all their lives. The good thing is that if a parent connects with their youngest child, they will also go through the educational components. So they will either have a refresher course or it could be very new to them, ”Hill said.
She said classes will be concentrated from the fourth grade. They will teach participants about budgeting, checking accounts, banking and investing. Hill said she expects this to be available by the end of September.
EBCI Treasury Secretary Cory Blankenship said his team is working to put the best assets in the hands of tribal members.
“I think we laser focus on different age groups. How to target programming from an early age? Because by the time we get to high school and they get ready to start getting old, it’s too late. So we want to have a suite of financial literacy programs that reach out to different age groups, ”Blankenship said.
Blankenship said it’s important to educate children, but developing financial literacy in their mentors is just as vital to securing the best foundation for the next generation.
“We have to strike at all levels. Employees, parents, grandparents. In our experience of speaking to other tribes who are trusted by miners, there is this generational gap where grandparents may not have bank accounts. Parents may not be able to manage a bank account. So if they don’t know about the banking services and products available at their local deposit bank, they can’t tell their kids about it. So I think there is almost a responsibility there to educate all generations of tribal members, ”Blankenship said.
He said deciding who to partner with moving forward will be crucial in providing the best services to tribal members. They are in the process of finalizing the contract with StockTrak.
“What surprised us most is that there are existing programs that target different age groups and are curriculum specialists. How do you talk about money and finances with a first grader? There are existing programs that already do this. So how do we exploit our resources here and exploit these existing resources? I don’t think we need to create anything new. It is the investment committee that looks at what is the best product and how to get it to our members.
The juvenile trust fund is approaching a total value of $ 1 billion. Hill says that with these tools, the current 6,151 program participants can learn to follow the market and become savvy investors. She says she will be able to strike up a conversation between households and friends. That’s if people take advantage of the resources. Hill also said there were only 300 connections to the site.
“It’s super exciting. I can not wait. But it’s irrelevant if no one is using it.
Anyone participating in the program can consult their account at any time on usicg.com. For any other questions, concerns, or other information, you can contact Lavita Hill 359-7085 or [email protected]