As a nonprofit organization and a Native community development financial institution (CDFI) certified by the U.S. Treasury, Four Bands Community Fund continuously strives to achieve its mission of creating economic opportunity by helping people build strong and sustainable small businesses and increase their financial capability. With over a decade of experience working in a rural, economically distressed area, Four Bands Community Fund has created a suite of products and services designed to revive traditional culture that supports self-sufficiency, healthy family and community structure, and a thriving economy.
The Four Bands Community Fund is itself the product of community innovation. In 1998, concerned by the lack of business development on Cheyenne River, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and community members initiated a planning process that led to the creation of Four Bands. Since then, Four Bands has built a strong record of developing innovative approaches to improve the economic status of tribal members, such as their Green Energy Initiative, Youth Internship Program and Credit Building Program.
After five years of piloting strategies to combat conditions of poverty that focused on adults and youth separately, Four Bands decided it needed a comprehensive approach beginning at the very earliest grades; involving governments, community organizations, and individuals and families; and combining multiple sources of poverty influences into one strategy. The result was “Making Waves,” an initiative that emphasizes the importance of social networks, supports entrepreneurial activities, encourages success stories, and promotes public education campaigns that help youth and adults implement healthy money management into their lives.
Community members have seen the benefits of the program. Youth are creating budgets and opening saving accounts. They have a better understand of the benefits of establishing and maintaining a good credit report and are taking steps to build it. A tribal resolution was passed supporting the tenets of Making Waves by encouraging tribal departments and enterprises, community organizations, schools, and local businesses to work together to remove barriers that are inhibiting financial capability and entrepreneurship Today, the Making Waves toolkit is available nationwide.