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Giving Essentials, Changing Lives

Join us in bringing hope and dignity to those in need

Join our donation drive to provide crucial essentials to individuals facing housing insecurity in our community. Your contribution can make a lasting impact by offering comfort and support to those who need it most. Together, we can make a difference. Donate today and help change lives for the better.

What You Can Donate:

  • Socks
  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Travel Shampoo/ Conditioner
  • Sanitary Supplies
  • Menstrual Products (pads & tampons)
  • Adult Diapers (men & women)
  • Baby Wipes
  • First Aid Kits
  • Bottled Water
  • Suncreen

Drop Off Point: CEF CH Office 208 N Columbia St Suite 100, Chapel Hill, NC 27514


Join us in Celebrating CEF Members

Join us in celebrating our CEF Members for Financial Independence Day!

You are invited to CEF’s annual Financial Independence Day, Saturday, July 13th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the CEF Chapel Hill Office (208 N Columbia St Suite 100, Chapel Hill, NC 27514)

The purpose of Financial Independence Day is to honor all of the hard work that CEF Members are putting in to achieve financial stability and independence.

Join us for a community cookout with fun activities to acknowledge and celebrate the fight for freedom from financial burden.

Please RSVP here:


The Racial Wealth Gap Within the LGBTQ Community

A collaborative effort between CEF Staff and Summer ‘24 Interns

As CEF wraps up our yearly observation of PRIDE month, it’s vital to acknowledge that economic disparities persist for the LGBTQIA+ community, exacerbated by discrimination in employment, housing, and healthcare.

It is most crucial to acknowledge the intersecting economic challenges faced by LGBTQ people of color. A “wealth gap” refers to disparities in wealth between different groups, stemming from historical and systemic inequalities. For example, the “racial wealth gap” pertains to economic disparities between different racial and ethnic groups. The “LGBTQ wealth gap” pertains to economic disparities based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For individuals who are both LGBTQ and racial minorities, these gaps compound, exacerbating economic disparity.

Age is another factor that contributes to disparity within the LGBTQ community. The National Colaition For the Homeless reports LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth. The National Network For Youth found that up to 40% of the 4.2 million youth in the US experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ, despite being only 9.8% of the youth population.

The AARP found that LGBTQ Elders living in less LGBTQ friendly communites are 700% more likely to experience housing discrimination tied to their identities. 34% of LGBTQ Elders — and 54% of transgender Elders — reported being worried about having to hide their identity to access senior housing.

For LGBTQ+ adults living with a disability, risk of both poverty and unemployment is further compounded. LGBTQ people are 10-20% more likely to be disabled than their non-LGBTQ peers. The Williams Institute found that LGBTQ men with disabilities are roughly 86% more likely to live in poverty than LGBTQ men without disabilities. Likewise, LGBTQ women were about 78% more likely to live in poverty than LGBTQ+ women without disabilities.

Still, structural racism combined with systemic anti-LGBTQ discrimination leads to the most extreme negative outcomes, especially for Black LGBTQ people. We cannot talk about the compounding disparities faced by Black members of the LGBTQ+ community without defining the concepts of misogynoir and transmisogynoir. Both terms are rooted in the concept of intersectionality, which addresses how various social identities such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation interrelate in systems of oppression.Coined by Black feminist writer Moya Bailey, misogynoir is a term to describe the combined force of anti-Black racism and misogyny Black cisgender women experience under white supremacy and patriarchy. Transmisogynoir is an extension of the word, to include the added oppression of cissexism experienced by Black trans feminine people. Transmisogynoir manifests most commonly as hate-fueled, and often fatal, gender-based violence.

Regardless of gender identity, the National LGBTQ Taskforce found that Black transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) people face unconscionable levels of discrimination. Black transgender and GNC people have an extremely high unemployment rate, up to 26%. Black transgender and GNC people often live in extreme poverty, with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. 41% of Black transgender and GNC people have experienced homelessness, 47% have experienced incarceration, and 50% reported being forced to participate in the underground economy for income, including sex work and drug sales.

Extreme economic disparity for Black trans and GNC members of the LGBTQIA+ community persists as a critical issue that demands immediate attention. This disparity is further compounded by pervasive (and growing) anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Moving forward, it is imperative to advocate for inclusive policies that combat systemic discrimination and ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities for LGBTQ individuals, particularly those facing intersectional marginalizations. By actively supporting these efforts and fostering a culture of acceptance, we can collectively strive towards a future where every member of the LGBTQIA+ community thrives and enjoys opportunities for success and prosperity!


CEF Staff Highlight: Chloe Wells

Meet Chloe Wells, Advocate Program Coordinator (CH)

Chloe Wells, Advocate Program Coordinator (CH)

Your Role: In your own words, how would you describe the work you do at the CEF and why is it important?

At CEF, I hold the role of the ‘Advocate Program Coordinator’ (APC). This title generously encapsulates my responsibilities of coordinating, supervising, and providing support to our volunteer Advocates in their impactful endeavors.

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

I bring a wealth of experiences to my role, ranging from my time as a ‘front office lady’ at a high school to my roles as a Teacher’s Assistant, Peer DEI Educator, Resident Advisor, and Co-Editor in Chief of an undergraduate literary magazine. I have acquired valuable skills and strengths through these diverse experiences, shaping my unique perspective and approach.

Connecting to CEF: What led you to working with CEF generally, and also to this particular role?

As a member of the undergraduate class of 2020, the Pandemic tossed aside my plans, along with those of many peers, for post-graduate-real-adult life. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I strive to embrace the notion that I am where I am meant to be at any given moment. Upon deciding to leave my previous role and relocate to the area with my partner, currently enrolled as a Graduate Student at UNC Chapel Hill, I was determined to find a path that allowed me to make a tangible impact on my community. Drawing from my academic passions as a student, I sought to apply them in a real-world setting. My aspiration was to join an organization that fostered creativity, embraced my love for learning, and promoted genuine relationship building, community engagement, and anti-racism at every level. I believe I have found the perfect fit!

Energy: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF) where do you find energy and renewal?

When I reflect on my work in this role at CEF, I draw energy and renewal from our person-centered approach. Our primary focus is on the individual, regardless of who they are or what they bring to the table. This person-centered ethos resonates deeply with me, especially in my interactions with Members and Advocates. I derive immense joy from connecting with our Advocate community, where we have a supportive space to lean on, learn from, and celebrate each other’s successes. Together, we navigate challenging days, uplift each other through laughter and continuous curiosity, and collaboratively devise solutions. Being part of a community where we can openly address our needs, capacity, and well-being fills me with pride, energy, and profound gratitude.

Challenge: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF) where do you find challenges and how do you seek to find the best way forward?

In all honesty, navigating anti-racist, justice-focused community work within the confines of oppressive systems like white supremacy culture presents a myriad of challenges. It’s hardly surprising, considering the extensive lists of obstacles we encounter daily within our CEF community. Thus, I find that the most daunting aspect of my role at times is simply ensuring that everyone feels empowered to engage with the supportive community that CEF has fostered. This involves ensuring that individuals feel capable of supporting others whose experiences may differ from their own, feeling supported enough to actively participate both mentally and physically, and ensuring that each Advocate feels valued and acknowledged. It’s about ensuring that they are equipped to advocate for themselves as well. To all Advocates reading this, know that you are deeply appreciated!

Etc: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Outside of my role as APC, I thoroughly enjoy spending quality time with my partner, whether it’s at home or exploring new places. I’m currently immersed in creating Spotify playlists, particularly delving into the new-wave funk and disco movements. Exploring culinary delights at new restaurants, discovering hiking trails both nearby and across the state, and preparing meals for my loved ones are some of my cherished activities. I find solace in browsing through local bookstores, especially in search of the latest horror releases and cryptic creature-features. I strongly advocate for the importance of outdoor play and seize any opportunity to indulge myself. Although I appreciate thoughtful cuisine, if I had to pick a favorite food, it would undoubtedly be french fries. Or perhaps ice cream. When I’m up for it, I love attending drag shows, hitting the dance floor with friends, and engaging in spirited competition at local trivia nights!


In Memory of Carolyn Suitt

CEF is saddened by the passing of one of our 2023 Black Queens, Carolyn Suitt. She was a joy and light to her family and community. Rest in power, Black Queen with your beautiful crown.

Intern Applications

CEF Chapel Hill is offering both full and part time internship positions for our 10 week summer program. Interns will complete a training “boot camp” and therefore no prior experience with our organization is required to apply. A great applicant for this position would be someone who is committed to anti-racism and housing first efforts, dedicated to direct service work, and passionate about the prosperity of all folks who are part of our community.

This application will be open until March 8th, 2024 at 11:59 PM. More information regarding the internship can be found within the application via a linked job description. Any further questions or concerns can be directed to


CEF Staff Highlight: Sophia Thayer

Meet Sophia! Member Services Coordinator

Sophia Thayer, Member Services Coordinator (Durham)

Your Role: In your own words, how would you describe the work you do at the CEF and why is it important?

As the Member Services Coordinator for the Durham office, I work alongside Members and external community partners and service providers, as well as Advocates and staff, to research, develop, and implement relevant resources for Members. Most of the resources center on access to housing, and other crucial elements folks need to thrive. I also help lead New Member Orientation and our food pantry.

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

My background is in case management, resource navigation, youth development, and food justice. Beyond this background, I try to be as authentic as possible and meet people where they’re coming from. I strive to always be learning and challenge myself to consistently check how my biases affect my perception of experiences and events. Overall, I believe I am an approachable and personable individual hoping to form long term relationships.

Connecting to CEF: What led you to working with CEF generally, and also to this particular role?

CEF’s commitment to justice and equity is what initially drew me to the organization. CEF’s belief that everyone is creative, resourceful, and whole resonates with me and is the basis of the Member-driven work we all do together. In my role as MSC, I attempt to provide a starting point for Members and Advocates to connect. Witnessing and taking part in human connection is a joy that CEF provides and values.

Energy: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF) where do you find energy and renewal?

At CEF, I find energy in relationships – deep conversations about experiences and stressors, celebrations when someone reaches their goal, and connections over a shared favorite. Outside of CEF, I find energy in very similar ways by spending time with loved ones.

Challenge: When you think about your work in this role at CEF (and/or in general at CEF)  where do you find challenges and how do you seek to find the best way forward?

CEF and our Members, Advocates, and staff still live and function within systems that are set up for some people to fail and some to thrive. Systemic racism and capitalism are massive opponents. Sometimes, no matter how much work we put in, we cannot solve a problem. I think the way we move forward is first recognizing that the CEF model of long-term community is radical in itself. Secondly, we can utilize this community power to break down systemic barriers as best we can.


2022 Annual Report: Joyful Community

A vibrant painting with a cloudy sky, orange sun radiating, and blue, pink, yellow, and black foreground. The words JOYFUL COMMUNITY are in blue in the sky. On the bottom right, the CEF logo and Annual Report 2022 are written in yellow.

2022 was a tremendous year for CEF! Our work was recognized both locally and nationally as we received the highest score on the City of Durham’s American Rescue Plan request for proposals and were honored with GSK’s IMPACT Award and Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders Award. We were also selected as one of ten organizations to participate in Common Future’s 2023 Accelerator program, which will support our work to expand the first-time homebuyer program (see pg. 4). These recognitions demonstrate the importance of CEF’s work, especially as Members continue to recover from financial hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition to recognition for our work, we also invested time and resources into creating a guide for the next five years. CEF’s new Strategic Plan was created with input from more than 65 community partners, Members, staff, board, and volunteer Advocates. We are so excited to share the plan with you

As we reflect on 2022, we will share stories using our new strategic framework (see pg. 5) as a guide. You will hear from Members about the importance of CEF being a strong & adaptable organization and how impactful organizing and advocacy affects their lives. You will also learn about some emerging programs that respond to Member needs and requests, and how CEF is investing in building a joyful community. 

CEF continues to focus on relationship-based care, with Member/Advocate meetings as the primary way for CEF Members to receive support. The Strategic Plan did not change CEF’s commitment to cultivating opportunities, assets, and communities that support the alleviation of homelessness and poverty–but, rather, it helped us hone in on what is important for CEF to be doing vs. what community partners and other service organizations can do to best support CEF Members. Thank you for being part of this journey with us and trusting us to do the work necessary to best support Members in our quest to end the racial wealth gap and empower the community.


April Newsletter: Join us for a Spring Celebration!

CEF Annual Report Release. Please Join us for a spring celebration of the Community Empowerment Fund! Wednesday, May 24, 2023. 5:30 pm. Gene Strowd Community Rose Garden. 130 S. Estes Drive Chapel Hill, NC. Free. Image has a dark blue background and white text. There are pink, orange, yellow, and blue flowers along the left and right borders.

CEF Annual Report Release!

A Spring Celebration

We’re excited to invite you to a spring celebration and annual report release party on Wednesday, May 24 at the Gene Strowd Rose Garden in Chapel Hill. The event will include short speeches from Donna Carrington, CEF’s Executive Director, a representative of CEF’s Board, and CEF Members. Please join us and invite anyone you know who may be interested in learning more about CEF and how they can support our work!

We're Hiring
Finance & Operations Manager
Advocacy Manager
For details and how to apply visit
Join our Team!

Become a part of the CEF team!

CEF is hiring for two key positions

Join us in our mission to cultivate opportunities, assets, and communities that support the alleviation of homelessness and poverty!

Finance & Operations Manager:

Oversee financial management and oversight, manage CEF’s financial coaching & Safe Savings programs, and ensure compliance with all audit and legal recommendations. This role includes leading budgeting processes, financial statements and projections, financial record-keeping, payroll, and more.

Advocacy Manager:

Manage our advocacy initiatives and ensure our mission, guiding principles, and values are represented in targeted campaigns. Responsibilities include setting advocacy goals, providing guidance to frontline staff, and inspiring others to advocate for safe and affordable living conditions.

Our team is dedicated to building a joyful community focused on ending the racial wealth gap and empowering community! If you share our passion, apply now for one of our open positions.

CEF Durham is recruiting!

Summer Internships and Volunteer Advocates!

Are you looking for a meaningful paid internship or volunteer opportunity this summer in Durham?

CEF offers paid full and part-time Summer Internships for community members interested in deepening their skills, expanding their knowledge of community resources, and working directly with CEF Members on their goals.

CEF’s Durham office is also seeking additional volunteer Advocates this summer! Advocates volunteer at-least 2 hours/week, working directly with Members as they move forward with their goals.

Both Interns and Advocates will receive in-person training and have staff available to support them throughout their time at CEF.

Learn more and find the applications at the link below. Apply by this Sunday at midnight!

Meet the Team
Durham Office & Community Organizer - Sydney Pender
Staff Support - Hannah Lyles

CEF Staff Highlights

Meet Sydney & Hannah

Sydney is the Durham Office & Community Organizer. She started at CEF as an Advocate in fall 2021. Hannah is new to CEF, and the Triangle, and provides Staff Support for both the Durham and Chapel Hill Offices.

Learn more about their backgrounds, how they connected with CEF, and challenges they face in their roles at the links below!

CEF Durham Housing Debt Assistance Fund
To support Durham residents in settling housing debts related to COVID-19.
-Past-due utilities
-Past-due rent
-Mortgage delinquency
-Eviction costs

Durham Housing Debt Assistance

The Community Empowerment Fund received funding to support Durham residents in settling housing related debts related to COVID-19. This includes past-due utilities, past-due rent, mortgage delinquency, and eviction costs. There is no limit to the requested amount; however, all debts must have been accumulated AFTER February 2020 and the Housing Debt Assistance Fund can only be accessed once. Currently, funds are only available to people who did not receive assistance from the Durham Emergency Rental Assistance Program or another rent relief program. In July, funds will be open to anyone who qualifies, even if they have received previous assistance from other funding sources.

Resource Alert

Resources of the Month

Orange County Resource of the Month

This month, Imanie would like to highlight the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid NC. The Fair Housing Project works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through education, outreach, public policy initiatives, advocacy and enforcement. Informational materials are available on their website.

If you believe you are a victim of discrimination in housing, contact the Fair Housing Project for assistance at (855)-797-3247 or by email at They can assist you in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or other appropriate administrative or judicial bodies. They can provide free and confidential legal consultation about specific situations.

Durham County Resource of the Month:

This month, the Durham office would like to highlight StepUp Durham. StepUp Durham offers a variety of employment readiness workshops that teach the skills needed to find and sustain employment. The classes are designed specifically for individuals facing barriers to finding employment, such as a criminal background or gaps in employment history. StepUp connects job seekers with StepUp partner employers while participants execute the skills they have learned to further their own job search.

If you are interested in their next job skills workshop register here or call their office at 919-973-0890.

May Office Hours

Office Availability Updates

CEF Durham’s Office Hours:

May 1-19:

Tuesday & Thursday: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm & 5:00-7:00 pm

CLOSED May 22-30

Summer office hours begin May 31.


CEF Chapel Hill’s Office Hours:

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

Thursday: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Friday: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

CLOSED May 22-31

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.


We recognize that we work and CEF’s offices are located on the unceded territories of the Eno, Lumbee, Occaneechi, Saponi, Shakori, and Skaruhreh/Tuscarora tribes. We acknowledge and respect the ancestral & present land stewardship and place-based knowledge of the peoples of these territories. Please support them directly.

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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