The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) selected Leech Lake Financial Services for a grant award through the FY 2016 Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program. Leech Lake Financial Services was the only organization in Minnesota to win the award.

“This grant award reflects the dedication and support the Leech Lake Tribal Council gives to Leech Lake Financial Services,” said Rob Aitken, LLFS Executive Director. “We see it as a blessing from the outside to continue to move forward with our nation-building efforts inside the Reservation.”

Since its official formation as a tribal non-profit in 2013, LLFS has written nearly 1,000 low interest consumer loans. It has trained 363 reservation residents in personal finance. In June 2015, it started a commercial loan program which has made 7 loans to reservation entrepreneurs and businesses.

“We offer a unique loan product here. There are no other loan products in the world like ours. That certainly factored into our selection for the award,” said Aitken. The Credit Builder Loan Program allows borrowers to use their leave hours as collateral, allowing low interest on a loan for our employees. In turn, LLFS reports the loans to major credit bureaus, increasing the credit scores for individuals residing in an area with historically low credit scores.

LLFS is a Leech Lake Band supported organization, with grants from Initiative Foundation, Blandin Foundation; the G.W. Neilson Foundation and in FY 2016, the U.S. Treasury.

Leech Lake Financial Services info: 213 2nd Street NW, Cass Lake, MN, 56633. Office phone # (218) 339-3940.

Originally printed in September 2015 issue of DeBahJiMon

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