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Montana/Wyoming Native First Accounts program

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MONTANA - The Native American Development Corporation announced the public kickoff of its "Montana/Wyoming Native First Accounts" project to help unbanked Americans open up bank accounts at insured depository institutions.

"We look forward to helping reduce the number of unbanked members of each of our respective communities we are reaching out to. All Americans should have the opportunity to learn about saving, investing, building a credit history and other benefits of a relationship with an insured financial depository institution." said Velma Pretty on Top-Holeman, executive director.

The first accounts program seeks to move the maximum amount of unbanked low and moderate-income individuals to a banked status with an insured depository institution through the development of financial products and services that can serve as replicable models in other communities without the need for ongoing public subsidies.

Under the Native American Development Corporation's proposal, the organization will focus on four reservations in Montana and Wyoming; the Salish & Kootenai, Crow, Northern Cheyenne and the Wind River Reservation which is home to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes.

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Program coordinator Mike LaFromboise hopes the program will spark interest in these communities. "Financial literacy is essential knowledge for every one: I believe once we have this knowledge, we can achieve more with our money on an individual basis".

First Account grant awardees will implement projects that provide financial literacy training, connect individuals to insured accounts, develop low- or no-cost products and services and increase financial services through installation of automated teller machines (ATM). The projects focus on a wide variety of unbanked people, including youth, new entrants to the workforce, residents of low income communities, residents in rural areas, Native Americans living on the reservation, public housing residents and families using child care facilities.