As the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) announced and began to deploy $2,000 American Rescue Plan (ARP) payments to tribal members this summer, the Lakota Federal Credit Union, in partnership with Lakota Funds, launched a public education campaign to encourage wise financial choices. Through a Facebook live interview with the OST Media Relations Department, a social media campaign, and press releases, the partner organizations provided suggestions for tribal members to multiply the power of their money.
Following those efforts, the Lakota Federal Credit Union saw a 150% increase in new memberships for June and July, compared to the prior monthly average. New account projections for August are estimating an increase of over 300%.
“It’s really exciting to see new people coming in every day to open accounts and gaining experience in banking and finance,” says Shayna Ferguson, Branch Manager of Lakota Federal Credit Union.
Ferguson estimates about 80% of the new accounts opened in the past few months are by people who have never had a bank account before.
“Even simple things like opening an account can make a big difference in how someone manages their money. It just really opens the doors for a brighter financial future,” says Ferguson.
Ferguson explains that once a person becomes a member of the Lakota Federal Credit Union, they can apply for loans, use a debit card, and access a wide range of services, such as direct deposit or check cashing.
“We love to see our members take full advantage of the financial tools we offer. Even if it just starts by opening an account with $5, before you know it, you can achieve bigger goals like buying a vehicle or a home. Those are assets that will change the financial outlook of future generations, and that’s really what we’re working towards,” says Ferguson.