During his trip to Pierre, South Dakota, Minneapolis Federal Reserve President, Neel Kashkari, hosted a lunch listening session with about 15 tribal leaders from around the state. Among them were Lakota Funds Executive Director, Tawney Brunsch, and Board Chairperson, Elsie Meeks. The participants shared their accomplishments in the areas of homeownership and economic development.
Our Lakota Funds representatives had much to contribute to the conversation, and highlighted the conversion of low-income rental units to privately owned homes in the Eagle Nest Housing Development in Wanblee. Tawney shared her experience in supporting veteran, George O'Rourke, as a local contact while he worked toward his goal of homeownership. In addition, she outlined the highly successful Construction Internship Program that was recently piloted in partnership with the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition. While that program has a dual purpose of increasing housing stock and developing the local workforce, it resulted in 82% of interns receiving offers for permanent jobs.
Kashkari challenged the attendees to think about how these innovative models could be replicated to expand their impact. Lakota Funds and the other participants advocated for more involvement from banks to grow programs.