Archive | March, 2014

Learning Cluster: Partnership with UMD and CFED

Janet Xiao, Alice Ni, Dennis Xu, and Keyona Cooper at UMD’s bi-weekly finance office hours (Keyona made that cool hat she is wearing!)

CEF at our on-site bi-weekly finance office hours at UMD! 

CEF is pleased to announce our participation with Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) in the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s (CFED) Intensive Learning Cluster on Integrating Financial Capability into Social Service Delivery Programs. CEF and UMD were selected from a pool of over 100 applicants nationally to participate as part of this collaborative effort alongside 10 other organizations doing similar work to CEF.

Relationship-based financial services are CEF’s bread-and-butter, and this partnership with UMD is a unique opportunity to take a step back and look at how we can more intentionally and collaboratively build financial capability in to homeless services.

CEF is now holding office hours at Urban Ministries two nights every week and specifically working with UMD’s Journey Program, which provides case management support and shelter for 90 days or longer. Our previous on-site office hours acted as a launch point for this partnership. Because of the footwork of our past committed UMD members and the amazing team of Duke advocates, we are now able to jump-start an expanded partnership at UMD, one with much more support and structure. With the collaboration of the great case managers at UMD, CEF advocates can focus primarily on our strengths: relationships and financial services. We set up affordable credit union accounts with Self-Help Credit Union, make action plans for building credit, budget, save towards goals in Safe Savings Accounts, file taxes for free with the Benefit Bank, and more.

Through the learning cluster, CEF and UMD’s program will benefit from technical assistance through CFED, a national leader in asset-building, and we will have the opportunity to learn from our fellow learning cluster members – agencies providing emergency services, workforce development, and housing.  In January, we were given the incredible opportunity to go to CFED’s office in DC for a nationwide kick-off meeting where we were given incredibly helpful tools, advice, and connections that will continue to help guide our work at UMD.

Read more about the learning cluster on CFED’s blog and stay tuned for more results and lessons learned!


Member Feature: Johnney Enemmoh / Iyke Chukwu


From Nigeria to Little Rock to Franklin Street, Johnney Enemmoh has been on an amazing journey through his life. Johnney walked through CEF’s doors for the first time on May 24, 2012. Known to family and friends back home by his Nigerian name Iyke Chukwu, Johnney came to the US in 1982 to attend college in Arkansas (where a notable Arkansas native, President Bill Clinton, served as his attorney). Continuing his passion for education, he moved to North Carolina in 1986 to pursue a Master’s degree.

In 1996 Johnney returned to Nigeria to care for his elderly parents. He remained there for over a decade to take over his father’s business. In the Spring of 2012, Johnney finally made his way back to the US. He always wanted to come back to North Carolina – he says it felt like home.

Johnney planned to find a job in Chapel Hill upon his return. However, his employment search took longer than expected, and he soon found himself staying at the IFC men’s shelter.

Still on the search for a job, Johnney was referred to CEF for employment services by two Advocates that he met on Franklin Street. He started working with those Advocates in the CEF office in May of 2012.

By August of that year, less than three months after his introduction to CEF, Johnney had secured a full-time job at UNC Hospitals. He moved into a downtown apartment in February 2013. After working just eight months in his new job, however, Johnney was caught in a round of summer-season layoffs. As was the case for many other UNC Hospital workers, the layoff came just before Johnney would have acquired health insurance.

But Johnney didn’t stay unemployed for long. He came straight to the CEF office after the news of the layoff and began searching for a new job. His always-positive attitude and drive to work hard landed him a spot on the customer relations team of the Franklin Hotel – a job that he likes even more than working at the hospital.

Now, Johnney enjoys sharing his joyful spirit by welcoming customers to the Franklin Hotel, where he works as a bellman. He greets hotel guests by checking then into their room and showing them around the hotel. Being a historian, Johnney likes to point out the pictures on the wall and explain the history of the hotel. He says of his job, “it is interesting because you share ideas with people, meet people, and become friends with them – because you never know where you can meet them again.”

Johnney is one of CEF’s most successful savers, having successfully reached an incredibly lofty savings goal. He saves for a “rainy day,” the way he says he was taught. Aside from working at the hotel and avidly saving money, Johnney spends his time writing. He is currently crafting a letter to his village in Nigeria which documents his ancestors’ history.

Johnney’s next steps? Saving to bring his six children to the US for college. With his contagious positivity and drive for hard work, that shouldn’t take long.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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