Author Archive | Jonathan Young

Introducing the CEF Housing Justice Fellowship!

We are launching a new one-year fellowship program focused on local housing access and advocacy! Beginning in July 2018, two Housing Justice Fellows (each with four years of Advocate and volunteer leadership experience at CEF) will begin working in our offices to launch new initiatives that directly meet the felt needs and opportunities in our Durham and Orange County communities.

What is the vision for each Housing Justice Fellow?

Liz Brown, 2018 Durham Fellow

In Durham

to develop CEF Members’ capabilities to lead in local affordable housing and anti-poverty advocacy

  • Supporting Member engagement in policy-making and advocacy to build political power in decision-making
  • Deepening relationships with local advocacy partners
  • Developing creative pathways for Member ownership and leadership within CEF
  • Cultivating leadership within CEF to sustain this work for coming years

This fellowship will drive participation of Members in local policy and systems leadership, whose personal stories and wisdom have a transformative impact on policy-making and political dialogue.

Leah Whitehead, 2018 Chapel Hill Fellow

In Chapel Hill

to develop and pilot an initiative with partners to collaboratively increase housing opportunities

  • Recruiting and growing relationships with landlord partners
  • Working together with Members, Advocates, and collaborative programs to successfully secure stable housing for Members
  • Engaging in housing advocacy & Member organizing initiatives in Orange County
  • Crafting infrastructure and securing support to sustain this work for coming years

This fellowship will act as a force multiplier, collaborating with staff from 5+ housing programs across Orange County to jointly support sustained landlord relationships and successfully house program participants.

Who are the inaugural Housing Justice Fellows?

The two Fellowship positions have been crafted both with the felt needs of our two communities at heart, and the distinct gifts of two of our graduating Advocates in mind. Liz Brown and Leah Whitehead both have four years of experience as volunteer leaders with CEF, and will be able to hit the ground running on these catalytic initiatives.

Why Housing Justice?

Housing is one of the most complex pieces of the puzzle in the array of services that CEF helps Members to navigate. Rental housing costs have risen dramatically in Orange and Durham Counties over recent years, causing large-scale displacement of lower-income households and increased challenges in housing placement for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. In Orange County, 90% of renter households who earn less than $35,000 are cost-burdened, ie. spending an unaffordable proportion (more than 30%) of their income on housing. In Durham, for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, only 38 rental units are affordable to them. Systemic change is the

CEF has been an active leader in local systems advocacy and service coordination to address the mounting housing crisis, including everything from pursuing cultural organizing through our locally-famous Advocacy Choir, to anchoring a public-private city-wide initiative to increase housing opportunities for voucher-holders. CEF is strategically situated to effect community-level change alongside our direct efforts for change with individual Members. We have collaboratively built momentum and partnerships in affordable housing advocacy over recent years, and have an opportunity to lean into deeper, impactful responses to community needs through the work of these two Fellows.


2018 Co-Director Search Profile

CEF is hiring for a new Co-Director to join our team, working alongside Co-Directors Janet Xiao and Jon Young as Maggie West steps down from her position on the team. Learn more about this leadership transition process at CEF here.

2018 Co-Director Search Profile

About Community Empowerment Fund

CEF works with people experiencing homelessness or financial insecurity in Durham and Orange Counties to gain employment, secure housing, and build financial well-being. CEF trains volunteer “Advocates,” many of whom are undergraduate students, to work one-on-one with “Members” with a holistic approach that meets people where they are. We are passionate about sustaining transitions out of homelessness, and combine flexible relationship-based support with innovative matched savings accounts to help Members achieve long-term dreams. Since launching our savings program in 2010, Members have saved over $900,000 to secure stable housing, build emergency funds, purchase vehicles, and even buy their own homes. Our unique, evidence-based model has gained national attention.

CEF is committed to a team-based organizational structure, in which responsibilities and decision-making are shared among staff. We are a growing organization, with 13 staff, 244 volunteer Advocates, and over 1,000 Members. CEF’s FY2018 operating budget is approximately $500,000, with highly diversified financial resources, and a relationship-based fundraising model consistent with our organizational mission. Learn more at

These guiding principles were collectively discerned by a group of members, advocates, staff and board members in the Spring of 2015. They are a statement of our values as an organization and serve as a compass to guide us in our work.

CEF’S Guiding Principles

People-Centered Relationships: We appreciate and value our differences and are committed to working through relationships built on mutual respect and trust. In doing so, we foster a non-judgmental, welcoming and safe environment focused on relationships that empower individuals.

Active Reflection and Co-Learning: We cultivate an environment where advocates, members, and staff learn from each other. We create organizational space to critically reflect on our work.

Participatory Ownership: We — members, advocates, staff, and board — share ownership of CEF and achieve our organization’s goals through collaborative decision-making.

Financial Independence: We work together towards sustainable financial security for our community.

Community in Power: We contextualize our efforts within systems of power and through member and advocate experiences. We are committed to social justice and pursue local community-level change.

Welcoming Connectors: We are committed to cultivating an open network of people and organizations to holistically serve members’ goals.

Quality and Accountability: CEF strives to be an interconnected and transparent organization that gives and receives feedback for mutual accountability, to ensure quality in all that it does.

Co-Director Position Responsibilities

This position’s primary responsibilities are to steward CEF’s resource development and financial management, and to lead the Chapel Hill team. The position is one of three Co-Directors who work both cooperatively and independently to steward the organization as a whole, and in the Chapel Hill and Durham offices. Each of the three Co-Directors is a designated leader of specific areas of work, while together as a team, they are responsible for fundraising, financial management, organizational development, internal operations and communications for the organization. Additionally, the Co-Directors facilitate collective visioning, and serve as connectors with the broader community. Read more about our Co-Director leadership model and organizational structure here.

Lead development and fundraising activities

  • Steward strong relationships with funders, donors, governmental partners, and other allies.
  • Create and lead achievement of annual and multi-year development plans in close collaboration with Co-Directors.
  • Draft and submit grant applications, letters of inquiry, proposals and reports; coordinate with Co-Directors and staff to gather information and create materials.
  • Coordinate team efforts towards and engage actively in individual donor development, including ongoing communication, gift acknowledgments, and relational connections.
  • Identify and cultivate new funder prospects and maintain donor database.
  • Manage CEF staff, volunteers, and board members engaged in development, including supervision of part-time development contractor.
  • Communicate stories of CEF’s work and community in compelling, powerful ways.

Steward CEF’s operations & programs in Orange County

  • Supervise, mentor, and support the staff and volunteer leadership in CEF’s Chapel Hill office.
  • Develop and maintain impactful and collaborative working relationships with partners and stakeholders.
  • Ensure sufficient daily staffing in our Chapel Hill office.
  • Coordinate with student and Member leaders to create and implement programs and events.
  • Work regularly with Members as an Advocate (an expectation of all CEF staff members).
  • Support and contribute actively to community-driven advocacy for local systems change.

Manage organizational finances

  • Oversee all accounting functions including those necessary for auditing, budgeting, financial analysis, and payroll in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and internal control policies. Ensure complete and accurate financial records are retained.
  • Perform ongoing accounting and bookkeeping duties, including processing expenses, receipts, and invoices, and providing thorough accounting oversight to CEF’s matched savings program.
  • Guide annual budget development and support ongoing budget management, engaging with staff and Board members to monitor progress, anticipate changes, and resolve challenges.
  • Manage work of CEF staff and volunteers engaged in financial stewardship and financial management duties, including support for part-time accounting contractor and the Board.

Support organizational vision & growth strategy

  • Engage actively in program design to improve CEF’s outcomes, impact, and methodologies.
  • Support staff development and hiring processes.
  • Support the activities and ongoing development of the Board of Directors.
  • Nurture broad external stakeholder support for CEF and our mission.
  • Participate actively in strengthening the organization; building team connectivity; celebrating in community; and encouraging learning.

Position Qualifications

  • Previous experience in non-profit leadership, including demonstrated success in fundraising and managing budgets of a similar size. 5 years experience preferred.
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial equity, social justice, and trauma-informed care
  • Experience supporting and managing teams and individuals, with an orientation towards distributed leadership and team-based organizational culture
  • Exceptional organizational abilities and attention to detail, with attentive follow-through on many simultaneous projects

An ideal candidate will have:

  • A commitment to shared leadership, embodying CEF’s values and guiding principles.
  • Affirming, empowering, and listening-based leadership style, with a strong sense of self-direction and accountability to the community
  • Creative solution-seeking and adaptivity to changes and challenges, with an orientation towards growth and learning
  • Compelling, authentic and clear verbal and written communication
  • Experience and comfort working with people across abilities and neurological differences, and from diverse racial, socioeconomic, educational, cultural, religious, gender, and ethnic backgrounds and identities
  • Facility with technology, including a willingness to learn new technologies

Salary and Benefits

Compensation is commensurate with experience and education, with a starting annual salary up to $41,000, and an additional $3,330 annually as a healthcare stipend that allows staff to choose their own insurance plan.

A detailed description of employee benefits can be viewed on our website’s Employee Benefits page.

To Apply

CEF is an equal opportunity employer, and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ applicants.

Please send a resume, and cover letter to in order to apply. The position is open until filled, however, we will give preference to applications received before May 21, 2018. Your cover letter should be 1-2 pages and speak to why you are interested in working with CEF, as well as your experience with and skills in fundraising, financial management, and community-based leadership. Please contact with any questions.

Know someone who might love to do this job and work with CEF?
Send them a link to:


CEF Art Show 2018 – Bagpipes Quilting and More

Last weekend the Community Empowerment Fund hosted an art showcase that highlighted a variety of artistic talents from the CEF family! From unique sculptures to detailed watercolor paintings; songs from the CEF Advocacy choir to mesmerizing spoken word, there was something for everyone.

We started with a tour of MFA works at the Ackland Art Museum, led by Art&Life, with discussions “intended to explore the status quo and question why things are the way they are” before heading to the Campus Y for a truly special exhibition. Artists were able to showcase the creative extensions of themselves and to enrich the lives of those of us able to witness it.

It was a wonderful community-building event, and an extremely important chance to share a space and celebrate achievements. We can’t recreate the moments we shared on Saturday but we hope that these pictures shared on this post give you at least a little glimpse of the talent of our artists.

Thank you to everyone that came and to all the artists that shared their amazing work and talents.


CEF Advocacy Choir Performs at UNC Memorial Hall

The CEF Advocacy Choir had the amazing experience of performing at Memorial Hall to close out the first half of a show by the UNC Loreleis this past weekend! Yvette Mathews is a part of CEF’s Staff team in Orange County, and the director of the Advocacy Choir. She has re-written the lyrics to many popular tunes to sing about issues faced by CEF Members – especially about affordable housing.

If you missed this performance, come check out he CEF Advocacy Choir at the CEF Art Show on April 21st or the Chapel Hill Spring Graduation Party on April 28th!

Sing with Us!

Call Yvette at 919-200-0233 or reach out via email at to get involved and be notified about upcoming rehearsals and performances!


A Member’s Gift

CEF Member, Steven Howser, is featured in the Daily Tar Heel for the gift he made to CEF during the 2017 CEF Piggy Bank Bash!

At a fundraiser for CEF last fall, Howser gave back to the organization in the form of a $500 dollar donation, the largest of the evening. He coordinated with several workers at CEF to print a big check to present to West as a surprise during the event to say thank you.

“All gifts to CEF matter, but gifts from members truly glow, they cause ripple effects throughout the organization, and seem to snowball and grow,” West said.

When Steven Howser first came to the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) around four years ago, he was seeking work development assistance to help him qualify for a seven day bus pass at the shelter. After years of support and involvement with CEF, Howser has not only secured income and housing, but is also giving back.

“I wanted to give back to show people what a good organization they are, and the resources they have to help people in the community,” Howser said. “So the people in the community won’t be afraid to donate time and donations to them because they really help a lot of people.”


CEF Chapel Hill Spring Party

You’re Invited:
What: 9th Annual Spring Celebration and CEF Graduation!
Who: All members of the CEF (extended) family — members, advocates, family, friends, supporters, fans, partners, and neighbors

Saturday, April 28th from 12pm-3pm (CEF ceremony at 1pm)
St. Josephs CME 510 W. Rosemary St.

Rides to Chapel Hill Party Available: call (919) 200-0233

The graduation ceremony will take place during the Northside Festival, a block party featuring free food, field games, live music, dancing, performances by the CEF Advocacy Choir, and much more. Hosted by the Jackson Center and St. Joseph’s CME, the Northside Festival is a fun, celebratory annual event and CEF is thrilled to participate!


You’re Invited: CEF Durham Spring Party!

Who: All members of the CEF (extended) family — members, advocates, family, friends, supporters, fans, partners, and neighbors!

Thursday, April 12th from 5pm – 7:30pm
CEF Durham Office — 1206b w. Chapel Hil Street, Durham, NC 27701

We would love to see your beautiful faces and goofy smiles there. We’ll have music, a photo-booth, dancing and lots of food! Your support means a lot to all of our members – hope to see you soon!


Legal Aid Clinic in 2017

Through CEF’s Orange Community Hub, CEF Members can work on a multitude of issues at the same time by walking into a single space! With amazing partnerships with Legal Aid and other affordable community lawyers, we offer an accessible clinic where Members can address legal barriers to employment and housing, such as expunging a misdemeanor from one’s criminal record or fighting an unlawful eviction.



CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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