VISTA, Calif. -- Recently, a reader wrote: "I'm incarcerated [and] read
your article about the value of an education ... I was partying up to the
time I went to jail undefinedut now I'm studying everything I can put my hands on
... I think per caps are hurting my people because they don't use the money
to get ahead ... Since I'm getting out in a short while, what shall I do?"
To err is human. In the world of business and finance, success is never
final and failure is never fatal.
There are three factors associated with success. The first is individual
effort, second is environmental conditions, and third is luck.
Individual effort starts with self-awareness and the motivation for
constant improvement. Scientists who study the human brain can actually see
neurological pathways associated with learning. As one acquires knowledge
and experience, one's mind sees the connection between the similarities of
the situations at hand and makes judgments accordingly. That's how people
Environmental conditions are cultural and socioeconomic. These factors
affect a person's view of the world. Culture can be one's childhood
upbringing, beliefs of the parents and role models. Socioeconomic factors
are commonly regarded as one's class in society.
Luck occurs when preparedness meets opportunity. Preparedness is education
and continuous study of the market. When an opportunity arises, one who's
prepared can seize the moment and charge ahead.
Growing up on a reservation is a unique cultural and socioeconomic
experience. While children experience the revival of Native traditions,
there are many adversities impacting the lives of American Indians today.
According to the Bureau of Justice statistics profile, between 1992 and
2002 for Native Americans aged 25 to 34, the rate of violent crime
victimization was two and one-half times higher than any other groups. In
2003, statistics reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration in the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services showed that
27.47 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives over the age of 12
took illegal drugs.
As of 2004, unemployment averaged 13.6 percent on reservations. Some Indian
reservations experienced over 80 percent unemployment. While these
statistics appear pessimistic, many economic opportunities are available,
not only to tribes, but to tribal members as well.
Gaming provides opportunity for tribes. Indian casinos generate revenue
that is often reinvested in tribal members through scholarships for
There are diversity-based education and business opportunities for American
Indians. Many colleges and universities actively recruit students of Native
origin. Recruitment continues to the job market where many federal and
municipal government entities, as well as large business corporations, seek
to hire minority employees.
For Native-owned businesses, diversity vendor programs provide pricing
preference. For example, two equally qualified contractors bid $100,000 on
a project. One company qualifies as a diversity vendor and the other does
not. The Native-owned company's bid is treated as if it were priced at
$95,000. The Native-owned company wins the contract because of the better
price, but will still be paid $100,000. For more information about federal
diversity programs, visit www.sba.gov/businessop/programs/8a.html. Contact
each state for its own links.
To the reader who wrote: "Formal education provides the mind with shortcuts
to acquire knowledge and tools to process information. Math skills learned
in elementary schools, such as ratios, can be used to measure the
performance of one investment with another. But advanced education in
finance helps one understand the meaning of the numbers."
The future depends on the choices one makes today. Going straight is as
much a choice as slacking back. Recognizing the need for improvement is a
major first step. Stay away from bad influences of the past. Set high
goals. When faced with obstacles, remember the quote from Horace, the
philosopher: "Adversity reveals genius; prosperity conceals it."
There are limited community organizations that provide transitional
support, such as housing, job search and educational counseling. Some
resources are as follows:
* The Osborne Association (provides assistance to former inmates), 36-31
38th St., Long Island City, NY 11101.
* Inmate Scholarship Fund at Genesee Community College, 1 College Road,
Batavia, NY 14020.
* Ingram Scholarship Program (for students willing to dedicate life to
service, with the grace and common sense that comes from education), Box 44
Peabody, 230 Appleton Place, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203.
Cynthia Tam, CFP, sets up investment and benefits programs for tribes. She
can be reached at email@example.com or (619) 200-6277. CA 0D69514.
Securities offered through Investors Capital, member NASD/SIPC. Advisory
Services offered through Investors Capital Advisory, 230 Broadway,
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