Archive | February, 2012

Member Story: Dawn

Dawn was the first CEF member to successfully file her taxes with CEF in 2011 and save her refund towards her goal. Her first goal was to save to move out of the shelter; she reached that goal, and moved into her own apartment last year. Dawn is well on the way to her second goal and now making consistent progress using direct-deposit, but believes “saving during tax season can really take my account to the next level… and fast!”

Dawn recommends, “It’s always beneficial to have something saved up. Spending every penny, you can never get ahead. By saving my refund last year, when I really needed money and was in a crunch throughout the year, I had something I could fall back on.”

Dawn graduated from CEF’s Opportunity Class in June of 2011. She says, “I joined the class because I wanted to be more financially stable… Since the class, I see how I can be more financially independent. I can seethat it’s obtainable. Instead of always being in panic mode, like I have been for years, I’m a little more relaxed. It’s much better to be secure than on panic all the time.”

“I am most proud that I have my own place now. I am truly proud that I am actually heading in the right direction; I’m becoming satisfied with life, and meeting life on life’s terms.” Dawn added that the bonus 10% match she is awarded by CEF when she reaches her savings goals has been a great incentive to keep saving, despite the challenge of saving on a very limited budget.

The moral of the story from Dawn: “Save money, any way you can! [laughing]… As long as it’s legal :)


Technology Without Borders and the Kramden Institute

Towards the close of Summer 2011, Technology Without Borders (a committee of the Campus Y) and the Kramden Institute came together in a joint partnership with CEF to pilot a new program: the Laptop IDA.
Technology Without Borders (TWB) was founded three years ago believing in the power of technology as a force for positive social change. With its initiation, TWB joined the small but growing community of social justice organizations dedicated to bridging the digital divide.
One such organization is the Kramden Institute, which helps thousands of students across North Carolina fulfill their academic and personal potential by providing heavily discounted or free refurbished computers to these students and their families based upon recommendations from their teachers and school administrators.
In its inaugural year, TWB partnered with the Kramden Institute to place computers in the homes of 50 low-income families with students in the community of Abbey Court. TWB supported this effort by developing a free open-mesh Wi-Fi network in the community and partnering with the Human Rights Center to create and maintain computer education classes and after-school programs in the community. The network continues to function in the community and Kramden has graciously provided additional computers.
Today, TWB remains dedicated to programs and partnerships that harness technology for social justice. In collaboration with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), the Kramden Institute, and the JobLink Skills Development Center, TWB established the Technology Empowerment for Chapel Hill (TECH) Workshops. These workshops help people save for a refurbished Kramden laptop, learn computer and job skills, earn a computer skills certification, and provide the opportunity to apply for funding to return and teach other students participating in the TECH workshops, making it a sustainable community resource.
Through these and other programs, Technology Without Borders continues to utilize technology that many take for granted to bring about social change and work alongside organizations such as CEF to forge creative solutions to today’s problems of social justice and poverty.

Featured Program: Laptop IDA

These days it’s hard to get much done without a computer – they fuel our work, our interactions with the job market, and our communications with those we love, both at home and abroad. Due to the high demand for affordable access to personal computers, CEF – in partnership with the Kramden Institute ( and Technology Without Borders (TWB) – launched a new program at the start of the 2011 academic year: the Laptop Individual Development Account (IDA).

Participants in the Laptop IDA have been asked to meet several critical requirements: attending 2 CEF Opportunity Classes, 2 TWB Computer Literacy Classes, and then 2 additional classes from either CEF or TWB; passing a “laptop diagnostic” test that showcased skills learned in TWB classes; and saving $75. This amount made up half the cost of a refurbished laptop graciously provided by the Kramden Institute, a Durham non-profit that works to bridge the digital divide for disadvantaged populations.

Since the program’s inception, 10 CEF Members have “graduated” with their own laptops. These ten laptops have helped send Members to school or back to school, helped with one Member’s kids’ homework, allowed for extra job-searching, and made possible communication with far-away family members. CEF is hoping to see this program continue and expand in the near future and would like to thank all the partners, Members, and Advocates who have helped make the pilot successful!

If you’re interested in the Laptop IDA program, or would like to learn more about CEF in general, feel free to contact us at


Thrill City Empowers Community

Thrillife is a brand started by UNC student and clothing designer Ryan Cocca in an effort to make “Conscious Streetwear Culture”. Thrill City, the Chapel Hill offshoot of Thrillife, is staying true to its mission as a “launchpad of everything socially positive and creative in Chapel Hill, from concerts to art exhibits to social justice campaigns,” by dedicating 10% of their revenues to the Community Empowerment Fund. That’s a lot of love, and we can’t thank Ryan and Thrill City enough for their support of CEF and the Chapel Hill community. Checkout the insert that ships with all Thrill City merchandise.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

Chapel Hill: 919-200-0233 Durham: 919-797-9233