Indian Country faces unique challenges when it comes to economic development. One of those challenges is ensuring that our youth have opportunities to create futures for themselves and their families. Many reservation communities are experiencing population loss with the out-migration of youth who leave due to a lack of job opportunities. The loss of youth has many ramifications for tribal communities. Loss of businesses, loss of job opportunities and loss of cultural identity.

We understand that the future is uncertain. The challenges we have faced in the past combined with recent events such as the pandemic creates even more uncertainty about our future. Our youth entrepreneurship and financial literacy programs are designed to meet these challenges head-on. The goal of our programs is to replace fear and uncertainty with knowledge, passion and hope for controlling one’s destiny. To learn valuable skillsets and mindsets that are not taught in schools and develop leaders who create new jobs and opportunities in our Native communities.

The IDRS Acorn Project offers two programs for youth that can be individually facilitated or combined into a comprehensive program that teaches skills in both entrepreneurship and financial literacy. To fit the schedule and needs of your program and youth participants, the programs are offered year-round including summer, school breaks, and weekends. We can provide training in-person or virtually through Zoom.

In-person training includes a professional facilitator, all items needed for the activities and games, prizes, and participant workbooks. Youth will work interactively to accomplish individual business development goals and collectively to work through activities that reinforce the workbook learning.

Virtual training includes a professional facilitator, workbooks, prizes, and all activity materials mailed directly to the participant’s location. Sessions will begin with ice breakers and include individual and group learning. Activities will be completed in break-out rooms, through interactive polls and games.

Side Hustle Entrepreneurship Academy

Through the Side Hustle Entrepreneurship Academy, youth ages 12 to 24 learn how to scan their environment and generate business ideas using their existing talents, skills, and capital to develop part-time microbusinesses often referred to as side hustles. Unlike many other entrepreneurship programs that teach skills that can be used in the future, our program helps youth put those skills into immediate action by helping them start side hustles to earn extra income while fulfilling other obligations such as school, sports and regular jobs.

The curriculum consists of 10 power-packed lessons that will result in a basic business plan enabling the youth to launch their idea. In addition to the curriculum, IDRS offers every youth one on one technical assistance and resource development tools to assist them through the process.

The learning objectives of the program include strategies and techniques for:

  1. Generating business ideas
  2. Choosing the best idea
  3. Gathering tools and resources
  4. Launching a side hustle
  5. Evaluating your side hustle

Building Native Communities Financial Literacy

The Building Native Communities (BNC): Financial Empowerment for Teens & Young Adults, created by First Nations Development Institution and Freddie Mac is designed specifically for ingenious people ages 14-22. The curriculum focuses on life skills that all youth need to be successful, such as:

  1. Personal budgeting
  2. Money management
  3. Short-term and long term savings
  4. Credit and loans
  5. Homeownership
  6. Paying for college
  7. Managing Per Capita

Each participant will receive a BNC workbook that allows them to follow along and complete the activities within the curriculum. In addition to the book work, each section within the module will be reinforced through fun experiential learning activities.

For more information about Building Native Communities, including access to the curriculum, please click here.


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