Archive | December, 2012

"University Students Changing Landscape in Domestic Microenterprise"

The Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) was featured as one of two case studies in a national publication on student-led microfinance programs. The report was written and published by FIELD at the Aspen Institute.

Titled “Catching Fire: The University Microenterprise Movement in 2012,” the report documents the growth and creativity of this unique model of service delivery in the microenterprise sector.

More info from Elaine Edgcomb, Director of FIELD and co-author of the study:

“University students delivering microenterprise services and microfinance? With some scale and effectiveness?

“Over the last few years, university-born and student-powered microenterprise organizations have emerged offering direct services (both training and financing) to low-income individuals and small businesses in their local communities. FIELD has closely watched the movement evolve, and FIELD’s latest study “Catching Fire: the University Microenterprise Movement in 2012″ describes the contributions this movement is making both to individual communities and the larger field. The paper provides two case studies of the Community Empowerment Fund in North Carolina, and Capital Good Fund in Rhode Island that illustrate its potential, and points out the next challenges that the movement must address if it is to fully capitalize on that potential.”

Our thanks and appreciation go out to FIELD, the Aspen Institue, and the Mott Foundation for their thorough research and thoughtful interviews. Thank you for documenting this work!


Holiday Party Slideshow

Oh my goodness, what a fun holiday party! Thanks to everyone who was able to join us, and if you didn’t make it this year, we missed you and we hope to see you next time!

Fun slideshow…


Featured Member: Lottye

Lottye is a skilled tailor, an aspiring medical technician, and a joy to be around. We’re so happy for Lottye! She successfully found two jobs with her advocates and then saved to move into her apartment.

Lottye and one of her advocates, Kevin

Lottye  connected with CEF while staying at the women’s shelter and got paired with a stellar team of advocates: Kevin, Sarah and Max. The team worked together to find Lottye employment and housing, and to help her save towards her goals. Sarah and Max have since graduated, but Lottye says, “Oh, I keep up with them! Max, you know he is a jet-setter, so he is traveling the world, and Sarah, she is in Japan teaching English.

“But I’ve still got my Kevin! And I’m getting two new advocates who will be working with me and Kevin — a freshman and a sophomore — so you know I can hang out with them for years!”

Even since Lottye moved into her apartment, she has continued to work with her CEF advocates to reach her goals. She is aiming to gain more full-time employment, go back to school, keep budgeting, and just in general, make her house a home. Her favorite pastime right now? As Lottye says, “I am really enjoying my little place now. It’s so nice to have a place that is just mine.”

Thank you for all your energy, commitment, and dedication, Lottye! We are looking forward to working with you on your next big step.


Santiago Reaches Savings Goal

Santiago and his advocates celebrating in the CEF office

Our congratulations and affirmations go out to Santiago! Santiago reached his savings goal this past month! Santiago has been by far CEF’s most consistent and diligent Saver, never missing a single weekly deposit in 50 weeks of saving with us. Truly incredible commitment.

Santiago is saving to buy a dairy cow for his family, and he has now reached his goal. Santiago and his advocates celebrated in the office with a cow-shaped cake, creatively made by one of his advocates.

The best part? Santiago will continue to save with CEF, as he is one of our 10 pilot members of the Renter’s Savings IDA Program.

Again, a heartfelt congratulations!


Finally, Amanda Has a Home

Check out this recent article in the Chapel Hill News, a guest column CEF published to highlight the fantastic and collaborative work we are participating in through the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness’ 100,000 Homes Task Force.

“How Amanda Got a Home” Read the full article here. 

Excerpt: “Amanda had been homeless for more than 10 years. Only 28 years old, this means she had been homeless for the entirety of her adult life – living with her sister in Houston, a shelter in D.C. and, for the past two years, a tent in the woods of Carrboro.

Amanda signing her new lease!

This past May, Amanda and her two cats moved into their own apartment in Chapel Hill. How? First, Amanda’s own determination and follow-through; second, a symphony of community partners, orchestrated by the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness’ 100,000 Homes Taskforce.

The story began for me about a year ago when Amanda walked into the office of the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) on Franklin Street with her very cute little dog, Paso. I can’t remember what brought Amanda up to our office that day, but from then on she became a daily presence at CEF. She began leading our weekly creative writing workshops, helping with outreach, working on her own goals, making savings deposits, and, sometimes, just hanging out on the computer. Through CEF Amanda was paired with two volunteer advocates, Audrey Boyles and Jon Young, who began partnering with her and working one-on-one to help her reach her goals.

Amanda with Audrey, one of her volunteer CEF Advocates

This past January the Partnership to End Homelessness held its annual Point-In-Time count, documenting the number of homeless men, women, and children in Orange County. This year as a part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, the count included a survey to identify the most medically vulnerable homeless individuals in our community. Based on these surveys, a collaboration of 15 local agencies joined together to create person-specific plans to help the most vulnerable individuals in our community find housing.

Amanda was one of the surveyed individuals and the 100,000 Homes Campaign prioritized her to receive services. A network of community services and organizations came together: A supportive housing voucher through OPC Shelter Plus Care; an affordable apartment through CASA; a security deposit from Housing for New Hope; comprehensive health services through the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health; vaccinations for her cats through POP; household furniture from a graduating senior at UNC; and one-on-one support from her CEF advocates, as well as her community and church friends. It was stressful; it was mountains of paperwork.

Amanda with Mary Jean, COO at CASA, the affordable housing agency renting Amanda her beautiful apartment

“I kept waiting on the big joke,” says Amanda, “for everything to fall apart.”

On Amanda’s first night in her new apartment she hosted a housewarming party. A family of friends, case-workers, advocates, pastors, jogging-buddies, therapists and community supporters came together to share a meal and celebrate Amanda’s accomplishment. A few of us even brought sleeping bags and stayed with Amanda for her first night, so she would be comfortable sleeping in this new environment – spending her first night in her own bed in over a decade.

Amanda says having her own home means “constant baths, air conditioning, a bed, and a lock. I can lock my door, that’s a very big deal. Oh, and I can cook!”

It’s the things we take for granted. It’s the distance between surviving and living. It’s doors opened for Amanda to continue her education at Durham Tech and become a Nursing Assistant, or to one day open a rescue home for abused and abandoned cats and support them through recovery.”

Read the full article here. 

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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