Author Archive | Alicia Lee

October Newsletter: Celebrate CEF at the Piggy Bank Bash

Join us for CEF’s annual Piggy Bank Bash on Monday, November 16 from 6:00-7:00 pm EST!

There are many reasons to attend the Piggy Bank Bash this year. Watch the video above to hear why Jessie Maxwell, CEF Board Member and Treasurer, is excited to join you as an MC at the Bash this year. In case Jessie isn’t compelling enough, here are an additional five reasons we hope you’ll join us:

  1. Celebrate CEF’s new leadership and focus on centering voices of people with lived experience with homelessness and poverty.
  2. Learn more about CEF’s innovative work in housing and economic justice.
  3. Listen to songs by the CEF Advocacy Choir.
  4. Hear from Members and Advocates about the importance of CEF in their lives.
  5. Hang out with the CEF Community, near and far (a virtual bash means friends from all over the country, and world, can attend)

During a year that has been defined by social separation, CEF is excited to host a night where our community can come together to reconnect and celebrate together. It is time for joy!

This year, CEF redistributed almost $35,000 to Members through the Safe Savings Campaign, trained and worked with over 200 Advocates, and continued to safely meet and work with over 1,000 Members. The Bash is an opportunity to honor these, and other accomplishments made possible by the CEF community.

The Piggy Bank Bash is also an important fundraising occasion for CEF. The donations and sponsorships received from this event allow CEF to continue working with Members in Durham and Orange Counties to achieve financial stability, become securely housed, and find steady income.

You can reserve tickets for the Bash here.

While tickets for the event are free, all donations are warmly accepted as this is CEF’s annual fundraiser.

Staff Highlight: Tawana Brown and Debbie Long

Meet some of CEF’s new staff members:

Tawana Brown is the Growing Household Income Fellow in CEF’s Chapel Hill office. Her role focuses on strengthening CEF’s workforce development services, integrating CEF’s financial services into countywide initiatives, and directly supporting Members.

Debbie Long is the Member Services Coordinator in Durham. Debbie plays an important role in many of CEF’s partnership-building efforts, ensures equitable program implementation for Members, and provides supervisory support for Member-led advocacy initiatives.

To learn more about them and their work, check out this Staff Highlight blog post!

Resource Request!

Support Members by donating single-use laundry pods!

The Chapel Hill office is asking the CEF community to donate single-use laundry pods, e.g. Tide Pods, to distribute to Members. Your donations will help stretch funding to support Members’ laundry needs. For more information about what is needed or how to drop off donations, email Chapel Hill’s Member Services Coordinator Diiv Sternman at diivs@communityef.org.

Thank you for your contributions!

November Office Hours

Chapel Hill (Nov 2-13): 10:00 am – 3:00 pm Monday – Thursday

Durham (Nov 2-13): 10:00 am -12:00 pm & 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Monday – Thursday; 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Thursday

From November 16-20, hours will be based on Advocate availability–please call the office to make an appointment. Both offices will be closed November 23-27 and will reopen on November 30.

Members must schedule appointments in advance–meetings can take place in-person, over the phone, or using a video software (such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet). Please specify your preference when you call to make your appointment.

Debbie and Diiv’s Resources of the Month

Durham County Resource of the Month:

This month, Debbie is highlighting Durham Drives’ Free Ride to the Polls. This organization is offering free rides to voting locations for all Durham residents. To schedule a ride, visit durhamdrives.org or call (919) 809-9242. If you would like to volunteer with Durham Drives, sign up on their website!

Orange County Resource of the Month:

This month, Diiv is highlighting Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness’ new Street Outreach, Harm Reduction, and Deflection Program. The program, which began operations on October 19, will focus on working with unhoused people to connect them with resources like medical care, housing programs, and therapeutic services, and liaison with entities within the criminal justice system to ensure that harm reduction deflection is being applied equitably and with trauma-informed, evidence-based best practices. Program staff will be actively going into the Orange County community to connect with and support people experiencing homelessness. This new program is a great resource for local unhoused folks.

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CEF Staff Highlight: Debbie and Tawana

CEF would like to formally introduce Debbie Long and Tawana Brown, both have come on board over the last few months. Debbie is the Member Services Coordinator for the Durham office and Tawana is the Growing Household Income Fellow in Chapel Hill. Read the interviews below to get to know them better!
Debbie Long, Durham’s Member Services Coordinator
Tawana Brown, Growing Household Income Fellow
 What has your work looked like during the time you’ve been at CEF?

A process of discovery I would say. I started during a pandemic. Folks need unprecedented support during this challenging time.  I’m seeing members getting hit at multiple intersections of hardship just trying to meet their basic needs. Right now, folks want and need secure housing that’s truly affordable and does not exceed the threshold of their budgets. They need jobs that provide living wages and healthcare, and aside from that, folks need general support navigating the gamut of issues that arise in a pandemic. The bulk of my work with CEF has been exploring the world of possibilities with a team of folks who are committed to the well-being of its members. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed working alongside members to meet their personal goals around housing, education, and food security. The current landscape has called for strong collective efforts in finding robust and innovative approaches to serving our members.

While at CEF, I have had the pleasure of assisting members with emergency assistance applications to Orange County, which includes follow-ups, document submissions, and advocating for Members. I also assist with governing CEF’s Workforce Income Taskforce. The Taskforce works closely with Members interested in learning more about fair chance hiring, living wages, job search skills, interview skills, and interview preparation.

What experiences, strengths and skills do you bring to this work at CEF?

Always keeping in mind that the personal is political,  I come to CEF as a Black queer feminist who works to create a revolutionary society where the people who have been impacted by intersecting systems of oppression can really thrive. I have a deep history of cultural organizing. Linking people to resources is what I do. I don’t ever think it’s enough to say, you know, “I want to help people.” To me, that’s the baseline. You gotta actually engage the people and communities you seek to support. Nothing beats showing up for folks and showing up for ourselves. I know how to show up. My offerings of support at this time come in the form of harm reduction, trauma-informed care-giving, and a transformative-justice oriented posture. Additionally, I’m an artist and abolitionist. I’m always seeking creative ways to dismantle systems and policies that disproportionately impact our people.

I have two master’s degrees, one in Nonprofit Management and one in Leadership and Human Services; a graduate certificate in Conflict Management and Negotiation; and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I have five-years’ experience working in nonprofits–holding positions in intake, case management, accounting, consumer coordination, executive assistantships, and fundraising and development. I also bring general business knowledge from my Business Administration degree.

What led you to work with CEF generally, and also to this particular role?

I was led to apply for the position because there was a need and I felt like the best person to honor that need. I arrived at CEF with a vision: To prioritize how members have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and attempt to understand what that means for their economic recovery.  My vision is informed by my lived experience of having witnessed firsthand the stigmatization and criminalization that impoverished communities endure. The Member Service Coordinator plays a vital role in stewarding CEF’s Member Services. As a people person,  I love working with and for the people. More than anything, I want to support people on their journey for a better quality of life.  I know what it is like to be housing and financially insecure and from this vantage point, I find myself in a unique position to support the overarching goals of the organization and in my current role. 

CEF’s mission and vision to assist and cultivate opportunities, assets, and communities that sustain transitions out of homelessness and poverty was key to my working with the organization. They care about CEF Members and offer many resources to assist each Member in reaching self-sufficiency goals. As a Growing Household Income Fellow, my job is to build CEF’s capacity to support low-income community members in increasing financial stability, engaging in community life, and supporting the economy.

How do you find energy and renewal?

For energy, quite literally, I like to eat healthy fruits and vegetables, and I limit my sugar intake. Introspection helps a lot too. Like the saying goes, “You gotta know when to hold and when to fold.” I do my best to pay attention to when I have limited capacity so as not to exhaust my energy reserve. And I am an artist and musician. Playing music and getting creative fills my cup! To renew my body, I detox and try to tap into what my body wants and needs–whether that’s a nap, a long walk, or a glass of water. Listening to my body plays a large part in how I find the tenacity to endeavor forward.

I find energy in knowing that each day a new scenario will come making the job new to me. I get energy knowing that I am going to do good for a Member and in negotiating services for the Member. I find renewal in knowing that a resolution can be found and Member needs can be met through networks.

When you think about your work in this role at CEF, where do you find challenges and how do you seek to find the best way forward?

The reality is that I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have most of the answers. But I do have some of them, and I do know how to locate and connect with someone who might have the answers I seek. I also realize not every question has a precise, clearly defined response to it.  I am not a native of Durham. Understanding the housing situation in Durham has been a real process that I have to work at daily. My best way forward is to think outside of the box, to use my creativity to fuel my motivation, to listen to my gut and trust my instincts, and ultimately, to practice the art of living free from fear.

I find challenges in not being able to find shelter for all Members who are homeless. I would like to see Members in stable shelter situations, where they have a roof over their head, food, heating in the winter, cooling in the summer, and nice hot showers daily–to name just a few basic rights Members deserve access to. I seek to find the best way to move forward by collaborating with other organizations and working with them in coordinating plans.

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September Newsletter: Supporting and Engaging with CEF!

Fun Ways to Support CEF!

CEF is partnering with two local businesses to uplift our work, and potentially fund our services. To make the most of these partnerships, CEF needs your support!

Vote for CEF in the Campaign for Local: Community Nonprofit Advertising Fund!

This competition will decide which local organization will receive free advertising on 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com. If chosen as the winner, CEF will use these funds to publicize our services, attract attention to the upcoming Piggy Bank Bash, and grow the CEF community. Please vote for CEF here. You can vote multiple times a day between now and September 25. We can’t win without your help.

LocoPops is hosting a Give Back Day to benefit CEF !

On Monday, September 28, LocoPops will donate 10% of pre-tax revenue from online sales to CEF! This Give Back Day is the perfect opportunity to enjoy delicious pops and ice cream, support a local business, and benefit CEF. Place your order on September 28 for pickup or delivery on Tuesday, September 29. Order online here!

CEF Board Co-Chair Brian Smith Invites You to the 2020 Piggy Bank Bash!

CEF ‘s annual Piggy Bank Bash will be held on Monday, November 16 from 6:00-7:00 pm EST!

The Piggy Bank Bash is an opportunity for people new to CEF to learn more about our work, our values, and the communities we work with, and for CEF’s growing community of Advocates, Members, donors, and staff to come together and build deeper relationships. This year’s event will be held virtually, and CEF is excited that community members from all over the country and world will be able to participate. As in past years, the Bash will include songs by the CEF Advocacy Choir, door prizes, and opportunities to hear directly from Members, Advocates, and staff.

While tickets for the event are free, all donations are greatly appreciated as this is CEF’s annual fundraiser. You can register for the Bash here. To make a donation, click here or text the code ‘PIGGY’ to 44-321.

Learning About the Racial Wealth Gap

A 2016 survey of the U.S. showed that the median wealth of white families was 10 times greater than that of households of color. Check out CEF’s newest blog post about what the racial wealth gap is, how it came to be, and how it can be addressed, there is even a game to demonstrate how individual choices can perpetuate the racial wealth gap.

October Office Hours

CEF Chapel Hill’s October Office Hours: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm Monday – Thursday

CEF Durham’s October Office Hours: 10:00 am -12:00 pm & 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Monday – Thursday; 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Thursday

CEF Members with the capacity to meet through online video chat software (like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet) or over the phone are encouraged to continue with this option. You can specify this option when you call the office to make an appointment.

For consistent updates about CEF’s office hours, check out this document.

We’re Hiring!

CEF is looking for an Office and Community Organizer for the Durham Office.

Applications are due by October 5, 2020.

This position is responsible for bottom-lining office operations in the Durham office and connecting CEF Members to community organizing opportunities. The Office and Community Organizer creates a welcoming, healing centered office environment that emphasizes each person as creative, resourceful, and whole.

For more information and application instructions please visit www.communityef.org/hiring

Debbie and Diiv’s Resource of the Month

This month, CEF’s Member Services Coordinators Debbie and Diiv each choose a resource to highlight in the geography they work in.

For Durham County, Debbie is highlighting the Fed Up Food Distribution program and political organizing effort coordinated by NC Poor People’s Campaign, Carolina Jews for Justice, and Raise Up NC. If you are interested in receiving grocery delivery to your home every two weeks or want to volunteer, call 919-797-9233.

For Orange County, Diiv is highlighting a free COVID-19 testing opportunity. You can go and get tested for free every Wednesday from 10 am – 2 pm at 725 M.L.K. Jr. Boulevard, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. There is no need to pre-register for a test. The results of the test are usually available in 3 days and will be communicated via text.

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The Racial Wealth Gap

What is the racial wealth gap and how has it continued?

In 2015, a study found that white households in Boston had a median net worth of $247,500 while Black households had a median net worth of $8. Yes, you read that correctly, $8 (Adams & Brancaccio, 2020). This gap in wealth is not just in Boston. A survey of the U.S. found that white* households’ median net worth was 10 times greater than that of Black households (Cilluffo & Kochhar, 2017). Without action, the worth of Black households is expected to fall to zero by 2053 (Rhinehart, 2019). This vast difference in wealth along racial lines is the racial wealth gap.

Racist laws and discrimination have created the racial wealth gap. Housing, employment, and educational policies have disadvantaged Black people. Black people inherit less wealth and have lower incomes, lower levels of homeownership, and lower rates of health insurance than white people (Gold, 2020; “Reducing the racial homeownership gap”, n.d.). These factors have made it harder to build wealth and left Black people more vulnerable to financial struggles (Jan, 2018). This all leads to the big gap between white and Black wealth.

Wealthy, white households also add to this problem. Upper-middle-class and wealthy families stay wealthy by passing down their wealth from generation to generation, they also use their privilege and connections to help their kids personally and professionally. These families often fight against policies that lead to greater societal equity (Reeves, 2017). In families that have the top 20% of wealth in the U.S., 57% of kids remain in that range for the rest of their lives. Rich kids tend to become rich adults. On the other hand, fewer than 15% of people born into the bottom 20% of families with wealth ever make it to the top 40% (Pfeffer, 2015). 72% of households in the top 20% are white. Combined, Black and Latino households make up only 16% of this top bracket of wealth (Joo & Reeves, 2017). Therefore, more white families have the resources to ensure their kids are wealthy too. (Check out this game to see how wealthy families stay wealthy.)

What can be done?

Addressing this issue requires changes in state and national policies on a range of topics. Some examples are changing current laws, such as strengthening and enforcing the Fair Housing Act of 1968, expanding health care coverage, and implementing a corporate financial transaction tax to fund a risk insurance program to protect against housing market crashes which deeply affect Black communities. New policies like student loan forgiveness or creating a Minority Business Advocacy office could encourage financial equality (“Policy agenda to close the racial wealth gap”, 2016). Reparations are also a crucial step toward reducing the racial wealth gap. Black and Indigenous people have been prevented from building wealth for hundreds of years while white families were able to attain and grow their assets. To bridge this head start in white wealth, reparations are necessary. These are just a few of the policies that could ease the racial wealth gap. Check out this article for a review of solutions on this issue.

While these suggestions are big changes, there are smaller actions that can be taken to diminish the gap. If you are someone with inherited wealth, you can redistribute it to people in your community that do not have access to inheritance or give it to an organization that can do that for you. Supporting politicians and policies that address the systemic nature of the racial wealth gap is another great choice. Investing in Black-owned businesses, cooperatives, and organizations working towards financial equity is another option. These steps are important in order to address how the racial wealth gap shows up in your community and are needed alongside wide-sweeping policies aimed to reduce the gap on a national level.

What is CEF doing about the racial wealth gap?

CEF works to address the racial wealth gap in three specific ways:

  1. Offering non-predatory financial services and products. This includes 65 financial coaching modules that Members can access to support financial goals from budgeting to purchasing a home and CEF’s Safe Savings Accounts which are aimed to make banking more accessible and rewarding. Members receive a match of 15% when they meet their savings goal and are never charged a fee for participating, saving Members $40,000 over their lifetime (Fellowes & Mabanta, 2008). 
  2. CEF actively works to ensure Members are safely housed. The Housing First model is guided by the belief that basic needs, like food and a place to live, need to be met before someone can successfully address less critical needs, such as employment, budgeting, or addressing substance abuse. Due to COVID-19 and increased financial instability, CEF started a Housing Assistance Fund for Durham-based Members. This fund supports Members who were unable to access assistance through other avenues, to ensure that they can be stably housed. Funding was provided by community members who choose to redirect stimulus checks to ensure that people in financial need had access to that support. Providing an avenue for people who benefit from the racial wealth gap to directly support people who are negatively impacted by the racial wealth gap is an essential part of CEF’s work. 
  3. CEF Members are actively engaged in advocacy work. Community and Office Organizers Rosa Green and Yvette Matthews guide this work, creating spaces for Members to talk about and to advocate on behalf of their own interests. Having platforms for community members to share their voices and offer solutions is essential if we are going to create systems that are truly equitable.

*In general, CEF uses APA grammar rules in our writing. The APA says that the names of race and ethnic identities should be capitalized, as they are proper nouns. CEF is intentionally leaving “white” (when referring to a racial identity) lower-cased. We recognize that by capitalizing words we are giving them power and we do not want to encourage white power in any way. Unlike the AP’s explanation for why they are choosing to lower-case “white” we want to be clear that we believe white people do have a shared experience–that is one of privilege. We also believe that undoing racism is the responsibility of white people and worry that implying that white people do not have a shared experience (as the AP does) is a dangerous tactic that is aimed at discounting the responsibility that white people have in undoing racism and white supremacist culture. Ultimately, we know that race is a construct but that racial differences are not. They are real and need to be addressed directly. For any questions or clarifications around CEF’s choice of words please contact ari rosenberg (arir[at]communityef.org).

Adams, K., & Brancaccio, D. (2020 August 7). The economy reimagined, Part 1: Dealing with inequality. Marketplace. https://www.marketplace.org/2020/08/07/the-economy-reimagined-part-1-dealing-with-inequality/

Cilluffo, A., & Kochhar, R. (2017, November 1). How wealth inequality has changed in the U.S. since the Great Recession, by race, ethnicity and income. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/11/01/how-wealth-inequality-has-changed-in-the-u-s-since-the-great-recession-by-race-ethnicity-and-income/ 

Fellowes, M. & Mabanta, M. (2008, January 22). Banking on Wealth: America’s New Retail Banking Infrastructure and Its Wealth-Building Potential. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/banking-on-wealth-americas-new-retail-banking-infrastructure-and-its-wealth-building-potential/

Gold, H. (2020, July 15). Opinion: The racial wealth gap is at the heart of America’s inequality. MarketWatch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-racial-wealth-gap-is-at-the-heart-of-americas-inequality-2020-07-15 

Jan, T. (2018, March 28). Redlining was banned 50 years ago. It’s still hurting minorities today. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/03/28/redlining-was-banned-50-years-ago-its-still-hurting-minorities-today/

Joo, N. & Reeves, R. (2017, October 4). White, still: The American upper middle class. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2017/10/04/white-still-the-american-upper-middle-class/

Pfeffer, F. (2015). Rising wealth inequality: Causes, consequences, and potential responses. University of Michigan. https://poverty.umich.edu/research-projects/policy-briefs/rising-wealth-inequality-causes-consequences-and-potential-responses/ 

Policy agenda to close the racial wealth gap. (2016, September). Center for Global Policy Solutions. http://globalpolicysolutions.org/report/policy-agenda-close-racial-wealth-gap/

Reducing the racial homeownership gap. (n.d.). Urban Institute. https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/housing-finance-policy-center/projects/reducing-racial-homeownership-gap

Reeves, R. (2017, June 13). Dream hoarders: How the American upper middle class is leaving everyone else in the dust, why that is a problem, and what to do about it. Brookings Institution Press. https://www.brookings.edu/book/dream-hoarders/ 

Rhinehart, C. (2019, July 12). African American wealth may fall to zero by 2053. Black Enterprise. https://www.blackenterprise.com/african-american-wealth-zero-2053/ Sivy, M. (2012, November 20). Why so many Americans don’t have bank accounts. Time. https://business.time.com/2012/11/20/why-so-many-americans-dont-have-bank-accounts/

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August Newsletter: Ways to Connect with CEF

Save the Date for the 2020 Piggy Bank Bash!

CEF ‘s annual Piggy Bank Bash will take place virtually on Monday, November 16 from 6:00-7:00 pm EST!

Please join CEF to celebrate the accomplishments the CEF community has made during 2020.  The Piggy Bank Bash is an opportunity for people new to CEF to learn more about our work, our values, and the communities we work with and for CEF’s growing community of Advocates, Members, donors, and staff to come together and build deeper relationships. This event will include songs by the CEF Advocacy Choir and testimonials from Members and Advocates about the importance of CEF in their lives.

While tickets for the event are free, all donations are greatly appreciated as this is CEF’s annual fundraiser. You can register for this event here. To make a donation, click here or text the code ‘PIGGY’ to 44-321.

Time + Talents Podcast

CEF’s Durham Office is excited to bring you the Time + Talents Podcast!

Time + Talents is CEF’s Member-driven advocacy platform in Durham. Due to the pandemic, Durham’s Office and Community Organizer Rosa Green arranged this podcast as a way to continue bringing information and resources to CEF Members while observing social distancing. The topic of each episode is chosen by Member feedback; the first episode of the podcast focuses on various matters related to housing. Advocates Lily Levin and Lizzy Kramer host the podcast and interviewed a Member, CEF’s Housing Access Coordinator, a Duke professor, and an Assistant Director for Durham’s Aging and Adult Services. Check out the episode here for a great conversation about evictions, renter’s rights, and local resources.

Give Back Day with LocoPops!

On Monday, September 28, LocoPops will donate 10% of pre-tax revenue from online sales to CEF!

Give Back Day is the perfect opportunity to enjoy delicious pops and ice cream, support a local business, and benefit CEF. Place your order on September 28 for pickup or delivery on Tuesday, September 29. Order online here!

September Office Hours

After the breaks each office took during August, CEF is excited to be open for the month of September!

Chapel Hill’s September Office Hours:

10:00 am – 3:00 pm Monday – Friday

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Thursday

Durham’s September Office Hours:

10:00 am -12:00 pm & 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Monday – Thursday

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Thursday

CEF Members with the capacity to meet through online video chat software (like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet) or over the phone are encouraged to continue with this option. You can specify this option when you call the office to make an appointment.

For consistent updates about CEF’s office hours, check out this document.

Debbie and Diiv’s Resources of the Month

This month, CEF’s Member Services Coordinators Debbie and Diiv each choose a resource to highlight in the geography they work in.

For Durham County, Debbie is highlighting an opportunity to get a free COVID-19 test at White Rock Baptist Church on Saturday, August 22 from 10:00 am-1:00 pm. The church is located at 3400 Fayettevilee Stree, Durham, NC 27707. To learn more, visit onsms.org/durham.

For Orange County, Diiv is highlighting the Orange County Eviction Diversion Program. This program helps fight evictions by providing legal help and emergency housing assistance funds to people who qualify. To see if you qualify, call 919-245-2655 between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday or 12:00 am to 6:00 am Sunday through Thursday.

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July Newsletter: Safe Savings Gratitude, Office Availability, Operation Get Your Stimulus, and New Advocate Training!

Thank you for making the Safe Savings Campaign a success!

Because of your donations, CEF was able to redistribute over $34,000 to Members in under four months!

This campaign bolstered the financial stability of your fellow community members during the challenges posed by COVID-19. CEF thanks you all for participating and making this campaign a success!

Office Availability Updates

When are the offices open?

For the time being, both the Chapel Hill and Durham office locations are open from 10 am- 12 pm and 1 pm – 3 pm Monday through Thursday with an extra time slot on Thursday from 5 pm – 7 pm. New Member Orientations are taking place at the Durham office on Mondays at 11 am and Thursdays at 6:00 pm.

The offices will each be closed in August as we say goodbye to summer interns and welcome the fall Advocates. Chapel Hill will be closed Aug 3-14, 2020 and Durham will be closed Aug 12-21, 2020. 

Can I still make a virtual appointment for these times?

Yes! CEF Members with the capacity to meet through online video chat software (like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet) or over the phone will be encouraged to continue with this option. You can specify this option when you call the office to make an appointment.

Will anyone be available to speak with me when the offices are closed?

Yes! CEF Members can call the Durham office at 919-797-9233 or the Chapel Hill office at 919-200-0233 and receive a call back from a staff member.

Where can I get up-to-date information about office hours?

We are consistently updating this document with information about our office hours and phases of re-opening.

Operation Get Your Stimulus

Several agencies and organizations partnered with CEF to work with Durham residents to access their stimulus checks, better protect themselves from COVID-19, and complete the Census.

This project resulted in more than two dozen people signing up to receive their stimulus check and answered several questions regarding access issues and eligibility requirements. In addition to providing information regarding stimulus funds, the various members of this project were able to distribute masks and tips on how to properly wear them to lessen exposure to COVID-19.

Along with these efforts, the project also worked with eleven households to successfully complete the Census. This allowed for Durham to be more accurately reflected in the allocation of resources and representation which is based on Census figures.CEF is thankful to the various partners in Operation Get Your Stimulus for the project’s success!

Upcoming Advocate Training

CEF is still working to ensure that we can train new Advocates this fall in a safe and supportive way.

The new Advocate training has not been scheduled yet as CEF works to take the necessary precautions to ensure that the training can be carried out as safely as possible.

Sign up here for the New Advocate listserv to get updates about upcoming opportunities to become a CEF Advocate!

Racial Discrimination in Housing and Personal Finance

CEF’s Summer Interns have been curating a series of posts about how racial discrimination has impacted housing and personal finance matters in various ways. Their research provides context on why racial justice is an important guiding principle for CEF’s work.

You can check out the great information they have put together next week on our blog or any of our social media outlets. CEF is excited to share their work with you!
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June Newsletter: CEF is Hiring, Offices are Open, Donate to the Safe Savings Campaign!

Safe Savings Campaign Update

Another huge thanks to everyone who has donated to CEF’s COVID-19 Safe Savings Campaign. We’ve already raised a total of $24,678, which is 82% of our goal!Can you help us meet our goal by donating today?

$10,117.74 has been dispersed to Members’ Safe Savings Accounts as a 15% Match on what they had saved as of March 27. All additional funds raised will be used to partially replenish Members’ Safe Savings Accounts due to emergency withdrawals made since March 10–when Gov Cooper declared a State of Emergency due to COVID-19.

The Stewards Fund is graciously matching gifts from new or lapsed donors and increased gifts from already existing donors through June 30–up to $9,500!Please use the button below to donate and directly support the financial stability of people in your community.

Donate Here!

Office Reopening FAQs

What safety precautions are being taken at CEF’s offices to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

  • All staff must answer health screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms everyday before going to the office.
  • When making reminder calls to Members, CEF Staff and Advocates are asking screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Masks are required for every person entering the office. CEF is providing masks to anyone who does not have one.
  • Every person entering the office must have their temperature checked by infrared thermometer (a type of thermometer that allows temperature to be taken from a distance with no contact) and is asked screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms.
  • In the office, markings on the ground indicate 6-foot distances that everyone is required to respect, including surrounding the reception desk, waiting room seats, individual offices, cubicles, and tables for one-on-one meetings. We have also installed Plexiglass dividers around the reception desks in both offices. The 6-foot distance requirement will be required for every person in the office, at all times.
  • In addition to the 6-foot distance requirement in all meetings, CEF installed computer monitors at each meeting station so that Members and Advocates can view the same screen at a safe distance.
  • Hand-washing with soap and hand sanitizer is highly encouraged with signs around the office and in bathrooms.

Can I still make a virtual appointment?

Yes! CEF Members with the capacity to meet through online video chat software (like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet) or over the phone will be encouraged to continue with this option. You can specify this option when you call the office to make an appointment.

Can I donate supplies to support CEF in reopening?

Yes! CEF is still collecting donations for the following items: masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and infrared thermometers. If you can donate any of these supplies, please drop them off at either office during open office hours. 

Are the hotline and COVID-19 resource sheets still operating?

Yes – you can still call the hotline (919-797-9233), someone will be answering the phone during office hours (Tue & Wed 10:00-12:00 & 1:00-3:00 and Thurs 5:00-7:00 pm). The COVID-19 resource sheets are continuing to be updated, with the help of Lincoln Community Health Center. You can find them on the CEF website (www.communityef.org). We are working with nccovidsupport.org to merge our lists and upload them onto their platform so that they will be more mobile friendly and searchable! This should happen in the next few weeks.

We’re Hiring!

CEF is looking for an Administrative Assistant for Development & Finance

Applications are due by June 30, 2020.

Working closely with CEF’s Director of Development & Finance, the Administrative Assistant for Development and Finance (AADF) will support development efforts as CEF continually grows its reach in the community–including maintaining necessary files and records, planning for and implementing fundraising events, and supporting the donor thank you process. The AADF will also manage CEF’s social media presence, support other external communications–including a monthly e-newsletter and annual report, and support administration of CEF’s Safe Savings accounts. The AADF will have a combination of on- and off-site work; some tasks and duties will be performed in both CEF’s Chapel Hill and Durham offices, and other tasks will be completed remotely. When working in either office the AADF is expected to comply with all safety policies associated with COVID-19. The AADF will report to the Director and Development & Finance and may work with program staff, other administrative staff, and volunteer Advocates on specific tasks. 

For more information and application instructions please visit www.communityef.org/hiring

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May Newsletter: Plans to Reopen, Graduating Advocates, Donna on WRAL

Safe Savings Campaign Update

Another huge thanks to everyone who has donated to CEF’s COVID-19 Safe Savings Campaign. We’ve already raise a total of $19,670, which is 66% of our goal!

The money is already being dispersed to Members’ Safe Savings Accounts: $10,117.74 has been distributed to Members as a Savings Match, and $9,552.26 has replenished Members’ Safe Savings Accounts after emergency withdrawals.

To meet our goal of $30,000 by June 30, we need to raise an additional $10,330. With the Stewards Fund match, donations are doubled through the end June, which means your gift will have 2x its impact on our community during this crisis.

Please use the button below to donate and help CEF achieve our goal!
Donate Here!

Office Reopening FAQs

Given changing COVID-19 guidelines, CEF is initiating a reopening plan for both offices. Please read the following FAQs for information regarding office reopening.

When will CEF’s offices reopen?

The Chapel Hill office will reopen on Tuesday, June 9. The office will be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 am – 12 pm and 1 – 3 pm.

The Durham office will reopen Tuesday, June 16. The office will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 am – 12 pm and 1 – 3 pm, and Thursdays from 5 – 7 pm.

How can I schedule an appointment?

CEF Members can schedule appointments beginning Monday, June 1. Members can call the Chapel Hill (919-200-0233) or Durham (919-797-9233) offices to schedule an appointment. Please leave a message requesting an appointment at a specific date and time, and a CEF Staff member will call you back in 1-2 business days to confirm the appointment.

Will appointments be available for non-Members?

At this time, appointments are only available for current CEF Members who have attended a Member Orientation. CEF will not be offering Member Orientation at either office location at this time. We will send another update when we begin to offer Orientations again.

Can I still make a virtual appointment?

Yes! CEF Members with the capacity to meet through online video chat software (like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet) or over the phone will be encouraged to continue with this option. You can specify this option when you call the office to make an appointment.

What safety precautions will be taken at CEF’s offices to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

When making reminder calls to Members, CEF Staff and Advocates will ask screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

Masks will be required for every person entering the office. CEF will provide masks for anyone who does not have one. Every person entering the office will have their temperature checked by infrared thermometer (a type of thermometer that allows temperature to be taken from a distance with no contact) and will be asked screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms.

In the office, markings on the ground will indicate 6-foot distances that everyone is required to respect, including surrounding the reception desk, waiting room seats, individual offices, cubicles, and tables for one-on-one meetings. We will have Plexiglass dividers surrounding the reception desks in both offices. The 6-foot distance requirement will be required for every person.

In addition to the 6-foot distance requirement in all meetings, CEF is installing computer monitors at each meeting station so that Members and Advocates can view the same screen at a safe distance. Hand-washing with soap and hand sanitizer will be highly encouraged with signs around the office and in bathrooms.

Can I donate supplies to support CEF in reopening?

Yes! CEF is still collecting donations for the following items: masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and infrared thermometers. If you can donate any of these supplies, please drop them off on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 11 am and 1 pm at IFC Community Kitchen (100 W. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516). CEF Staff will be present during this time. For questions about donations, please email Zach at zachm@communityempowermentfund.org.

Are the hotline and COVID-19 resource sheets still operating?

Yes – you can still call the hotline (919-797-9233), but hours are reduced to 3:30 – 5:30 pm every weekday. The COVID-19 resource sheets will continue to be updated. You can find them on the CEF website (www.communityef.org).

We are excited to see our community again, and safety is our first priority as we reopen. Any changes in the above FAQs will be communicated via newsletter.

A Bittersweet Good-Bye to Graduating Advocates

Due to quarantine measures, CEF was unable to host our annual Spring Graduation for senior Advocates in Chapel Hill this year…so we celebrated them from afar!Durham’s Advocate Program Coordinator, Leah, coordinated a good-bye Zoom call for graduating Advocates to share reflections on CEF, college, and all the incredible communities they’ve build over the past few years. Chapel Hill’s Advocate Program Coordinator Kristina compiled a thank-you video for graduating Advocates, with video clips of Staff and Advocates wishing personalized good-byes to all graduating Advocates.To our graduating Advocates: we will miss you so much, and we wish you the best of luck in your next steps! Know that you always have a home with us at CEF!
Check out the full video HERE!

Donna Carrington, Executive Director, Featured on WRAL

CEF Executive Director Donna Carrington spoke to WRAL last week about CEF’s partnership with the City of Durham and their efforts to ensure that everyone has the information and resources they need to receive their $1,200 stimulus check. She describes CEF’s work in connecting “non-filers,” who do not file taxes and who therefore do not automatically get a stimulus checks, to the application to receive their stimulus check.
You can view Donna’s interview with the WRAL team HERE!
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Safe Savings Campaign, COVID-19 Updates, and Staff Highlights!

COVID-19 Safe Savings Campaign and $9,500 Match!

We want to extend a heartfelt “thank you!” to everyone who has donated to CEF’s COVID-19 Safe Savings campaign! Your generous donations have already raised $15,522, which is 52% of our overall goal to raise $30,000 by June 30. Donations have already been used to match Member savings at 15%, and all additional donations will be used to replenish Safe Savings Accounts for Members who are using their savings during these uncertain times.
And, exciting news: CEF has received a $9,500 match from the Stewards Fund! This means that all donations from new donors, all increased donations, and all donations from donors who have not given in the past 18 months will be matched up to $9,500. All gifts that meet the above criteria and that are donated between now and June 30 will be doubled—a great way to increase your gift and your impact on our community during this crisis.
Thank you in advance for your support of the CEF community!
Donate Here!

COVID-19 Update: Office Closures and Supply Donations

CEF’s offices in Chapel Hill and Durham will remain closed through the end of May. 
The office will not re-open before the end of May even if shelter-in-place mandates are lifted. CEF Staff and Advocates will continue making Community Care Calls to Members, answering calls to our hotlines in Durham and Chapel Hill, maintaining county-specific resource pages for Durham and Orange Counties, and distributing mail during this time
CEF is currently searching for the following donations. 
We want to ensure that when we do re-open our offices, Staff, Advocates, and Members will stay safe.
– Masks
– Gloves
– Cleaning supplies
– Hand sanitizer
– 2+ infrared thermometers
If you can donate any of these supplies, please drop them off on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between 11 am and 1 pm at IFC Community Kitchen (100 W. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516). CEF Staff will be present during this time. 
For questions about donations, please email Zach at zachm@communityempowermentfund.org.

CEF Staff Highlights: Zach and Kyle!

CEF is so appreciative of the work of Zach Meredith and Kyle Compton, who both started in August 2019!
Originally from Durham, Zach joined CEF as the Employment Access AmeriCorps VISTA after graduating from William and Mary College. Kyle, who grew up in Palatine, IL and who is currently pursuing his law degree and Master of Social Work (MSW) at UNC, has been CEF’s MSW Intern for the 2019-2020 academic year. To learn more about them and their time at CEF, read their interviews here! Read the Interviews Here!

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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

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