Archive | In the News

CEF Featured in Prosperity Now’s Financial Coaching Design Guide!

Prosperity Now’s new “Financial Coaching Program Design Guide: A Participant-Centered Approach” is hot off the press! It’s an incredible guide for organizations interested in creating or refining a financial coaching program and it features great work and wisdom from CEF and other partners across the US! We loved working with the Prosperity Now team to bounce thoughts about what makes a good person-centered financial coaching program, and we learned a ton from fellow advisors as well!

Check out some samples below from CEF’s featured work!

0

Featured in “Make a Difference” Magazine

CEF is featured in the Spring 2018 edition of the Triangle Community Foundation’s “Make a Difference” Magazine!

Started as an undergraduate organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), CEF very quickly grew into an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit to meet increased demands. [CEF has] built numerous community relationships, engaging in broad-based partnerships due to the cross-sectoral nature of the work. What makes CEF unique is their relationship-based support in delivering financial services that achieve equity.

In order to sustain transitions out of homelessness, CEF combines financial services and holistic, one-on-one coaching. Advocates at CEF do not just sit down and explain how to read a credit report. Instead, advocates and volunteers collaborate with the same people for years, working together to see the long-range progression from severe and acute instability to financial stability. The relationship-based nature of the work is evident in the community credibility CEF has built. “Almost 50% of our new members hear about CEF from word of mouth. The work we do is so intimate, it’s really helpful to have that immediate credibility.”

0

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

Co-Director Position Responsibilities

Note from the Hiring Committee: As we continue to work to refine CEF’s leadership structure, we have updated this position description to clarify roles and responsibilities, and to offer a more competitive range of compensation. 

This position’s primary responsibilities are to steward CEF’s resource development and support 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 Co-Directors leads specific areas of work, and as a team are responsible for fundraising, financial management, organizational development, internal operations, and communications for the organization. Additionally, the Co-Directors serve as connectors with the broader community. Read more about our Co-Director leadership model and organizational structure here.

Lead development and fundraising activities with a relational approach

  • Steward strong relationships with funders, donors, governmental partners, and other allies (see CEF’s 2017 revenues/expenses breakdowns).
  • 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 in coordination with Co-Directors and staff.
  • Coordinate team efforts towards and engage actively in individual donor development, including ongoing communication and gift acknowledgments.
  • Identify and cultivate new funder prospects and maintain CEF’s donor database.
  • Manage CEF staff, volunteers, and board members engaged in development, including supervision of part-time development contractor.

Steward CEF’s operations, programs & community in Orange County

  • Coach, supervise, and support the staff team in CEF’s Chapel Hill office.
  • Develop and maintain impactful and collaborative working relationships with partners and stakeholders.
  • Hold long-term vision for the Chapel Hill office’s programs and growth in the context of emergent local needs and opportunities.
  • Work regularly with Members as an Advocate (expected of all CEF staff).
  • Actively lead community-driven advocacy for local systems change.

Facilitate creative organizational vision & growth strategy

  • Guide annual budget development and support ongoing financial management needs of the organization.
  • Support 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.

Position Qualifications

  • Previous experience in non-profit leadership, including demonstrated success in fundraising and managing budgets of a similar size
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial equity, social justice, and trauma-informed care
  • Experience with or commitment to a team-based organizational culture and shared leadership practices
  • Exceptional organizational abilities and attention to detail, with attentive follow-through on 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
  • 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 range of $40,000-$47,000, and an additional $3,330 annually as a health care stipend that allows staff to choose their own insurance plan. A detailed description of Employee Benefits can be viewed here.

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 hiring@communityef.org to apply. Your cover letter should be 1-2 pages and speak to your interest in working with CEF, and your experience and skills in community-based leadership and fundraising. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and the position is open until filled. Please contact hiring@communityef.org with any questions. 

Know someone who might love to do this job and work with CEF?
Send them a link to: communityef.org/codirector-search

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 www.communityef.org

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.

0

A Decade Ago, Yvette Mathews Was Unemployed and Struggling. Now She’s a Key Advocate for Affordable Housing in Chapel Hill.

Yvette Mathews is the captain of the ship in our Chapel Hill office!  Today, the Indy Week featured her amazing work in our office daily, as well as her leadership in organizing to address the growing affordable housing crisis in Orange County — including through song! We are so grateful for her phenomenal daily presence and the gifts that she brings to CEF.

The Community Empowerment Fund’s small basement office in Chapel Hill bustles with activity as Yvette Matthews scurries in and out, racing to pick up an incessantly ringing phone between guiding those looking for help and sharing a joke with students passing through. She deftly switches from task to task, directing the flow of people into and out of the office like an air traffic controller.

While it looks like she’s moving one hundred miles per hour, this is more or less a normal Thursday for Matthews.

“I’m a pretty good multitasking kind of chick,” says Matthews, a sixty-year-old office manager with short, slightly graying hair and a narrow face that usually frames a smile. “So I can hear you talking here, hear them talking there, and still do what I need to do.”

Read the article here: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/a-decade-ago-yvette-matthews-was-unemployed-and-struggling-now-shes-a-key-advocate-for-affordable-housing-in-chapel-hill

0

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.”

1

Congratulations Donna

Congratulations to Donna Carrington, CEF’s Housing Stabilization Specialist for winning the Humanitarian Service Award from Duke Chapel!

“As a change agent and a dedicated champion, Donna has worked tirelessly with Members to navigate crises, access resources, budget, repair credit, save money and build stability. She brings her full self with authenticity and courage, often drawing from the depths of her own experiences to offer support to others as they walk their own paths!”

Read more about the award and the amazing work that Donna does here:  https://today.duke.edu/2017/10/duke-chapel-service-award-goes-2-durham-community-leaders

0

Unlocking Doors for Affordable Housing

 “I’m sorry, we don’t accept vouchers”—this is what CEF Members and Advocates often hear when they call landlords searching for an affordable place to live.

 

Over the past two years, in Durham’s rapidly-changing housing market, CEF has been working strategically to find ways to bring together the voices of voucher-holders and landlords to listen, understand, and work towards systemic change. In 2016, in partnership with Durham Mayor Bill Bell, we began organizing a series of Landlord Roundtables. This created the Unlocking Doors Initiative, a coordinated system of support for both landlords and tenants that includes crisis intervention, assistance with inspections, a dedicated phone line, as well as a risk mitigation fund.

We are proud to share just a few of the things that came out of the 2017 Mayor’s Landlord Roundtable, which was attended by over 165 people (over 50 landlords and 90 community organizations):

  • Restored Access to New Vouchers: As a result of the event, Durham Housing Authority un-froze a referral pipeline prioritizing people who are ending their homelessness. We set a community goal of leasing up 30 households using Housing Choice Vouchers.
  • Prioritized Housing Issues for Mayoral Candidates: All four Mayoral Candidates attended the event and worked with us to articulate and publish platforms specific homelessness and affordable housing.
  • Public and Community Awareness: News coverage in Indy Week, WUNC, and The Durham Herald Sun has increased chatter and public understanding of housing vouchers and affordable housing issues. The video at the top of this page was produced by CEF and has been watched by over 1000 people!
  • Aligning the Durham Housing Authority with Community Needs: More than ever, the Durham Housing Authority has been engaged in community conversations, and landlords have been engaged in mission-driven affordable housing conversations.
  • Drawing Attention to a New Tenant Protection Initiative: The event was a platform for Legal Aid of NC to make a high-impact announcement of their new eviction diversion initiative.
  • Encouragement to Keep Going: The most resonant piece of feedback we heard from the 2017 Roundtable was the affirmation of continued open, honest conversation.

We are committed to continuing to bring a collaborative, relational approach to local advocacy conversations, that create real system changes to preserve and expand housing access for CEF Members.

Media Coverage

  • INDY Week, July 12, 2017 — SECTION 8 VOUCHER HOLDERS ARE HAVING A HARD TIME FINDING HOUSING IN DURHAM
    • “Since last year’s roundtable, landlords have given feedback on the issues they’ve had with the housing voucher program or reasons why they don’t participate. They said it took too long for tenants to move in after vouchers were accepted, that the waiting period for inspections was too long, and that communication was poor with the DHA.
      In response, the DHA has reduced the time it takes to conduct an inspection of a Section 8 property to one week, down from three. Additionally, the Unlocking Doors Initiative has set up a phone line for questions about the program. The program is also starting a Risk Mitigation Fund to help landlords fix damage caused by tenants that will cover up to $2,000 in damage beyond a tenant’s security deposit.”
  • WUNC 91.5,  July 17, 2017 — THE SEARCH FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN DURHAM
    • “So we had about 200-300 available vouchers we actually could lease out, and we had 6,500 people apply,” said Scott. The Durham waitlist for those 200-to-300 available vouchers was whittled down to 1,500 applicants. But landlords have to want to rent to low-income Section 8 tenants.”
  • The Durham Herald Sun, July 12th, 2017 CITY TO DURHAM LANDLORDS: HELP US HELP THE VULNERABLE
    • “‘It’s heartbreaking when I take them place to place to find a home,’ said Tucker, a peer support specialist at Carolina Community Support Services Inc., which helps families struggling with mental health and other issues. ‘Working with them and seeing the hurt on their face.’ The challenges, she said, include finding a landlord who will accept the voucher. Some charge too much. Some fear their property will be torn up.” “The [Durham Housing] authority recently started holding quarterly landlord sessions, Scott said. Later this year, the Unlocking Doors Initiatives will launch a fund that will cover up to $2,000 in property damage beyond the security deposit. The Housing Authority also created new landlord orientation and materials, and the initiative is offering support for tenants before and after the get housing. “

Special thanks to:

Mayor Bill Bell
Anthony Scott and Denita Johnson (Durham Housing Authority)
Grace Mok (Community Empowerment Fund)
Terry Allebaugh (NC Coalition to End Homelessness)
Nigel Brown (Housing for New Hope)

Sally Wilson (Project Access of Durham County)
Steve Schewel (City Councilperson, Mayoral candidate)
Ryan Fehrman (Families Moving Forward)
Self-Help Credit Union and the Center for Responsible Lending
Valaria Brown (Alliance Behavioral Health Care)
CEF Volunteers

3

CEF’s TED Talk: Homeless, and Outsaving Half of the United States

Presented at the 2017 TEDxUNC event at Memorial Hall: CEF’s Co-Founders / Co-Directors sharing the transformative story of a group of college students and shelter residents who built a community organization and financial tools that support sustained transitions out of homelessness. The CEF Advocacy Choir sings to close out the talk, with an original song about the joy of finding a home after experiencing homelessness.

photographs by TEDxUNC

2

Using Behavioral Economics to Explore the Transition to Housing

Thank you to the over 70 participants from partner agencies that attended the workshop CEF co-hosted with the Common Cents Lab focused on “Using Behavioral Economics to Explore the Transition to Housing.”

Together, we brainstormed about how behavioral economics might help nonprofits think creatively about building better programs and smarter solutions to support individuals moving out of homelessness. The incredible team at the Common Cents Lab shared an introduction to the principles of behavioral economics, and led the group through an interactive workshop to put those principles into action for better program design.

Behavioral economics is “the study of how people really make choices–not in a simplified economic model, but in the textured and rich reality of daily life, and draws on insight from both psychology and economics” (CFED).

CEF is working with the Common Cent Labs this year to apply these learnings to our partnerships with shelters to promote increased engagement with CEF’s matched savings accounts in a way that supports Members in achieving short-term savings goals and builds longer-term saving habits. Through our last joint project with the team, we implemented a new way for Members to track progress towards their savings goals through a punchcard and tested its efficacy through a randomized control trial. Every time Members in the trial group made a deposit, they received a punch, and received gold tokens and new levels of punchcards after each card was filled. An article is soon to be published by the research documenting the promising results of this study… Just for a preview: “Members who received the punchcard to track their deposits completed 30% more of their goal than members who were in the control condition” (Guzman and Tepper, full article to be published late spring 2017).

Indiana received the very first punch on a CEF Savings Card! This piggy- themed punch card developed with Common Cents Lab, tracks each deposit and captures progress towards her goals!

We are excited to continue learning throughout this year with the team at the Common Cents Lab! Since the workshop, partners have shared that they are still really thinking about how behavioral economic analysis such as “tunneling” or “friction costs” can be addressed in their own work. Building on the incredible momentum of bringing 70 of our partners into the room together to explore these concepts, we got feedback from participants on where to go from here in our collaborative learning, and will be exploring other topics in the months to come — such as “Manage Cash Flow after Housing Transitions,” and “Overcome Barriers to Banking.

0

DUKE Today: Partnering for Homeownership

Seven Duke employees, including Strahm, bought homes last year with help from the Homebuyers Club. Thirty other employees received Homebuyers Club certificates because they completed at least eight hours of homebuyer education classes. The certificates can qualify the employees for additional financial help from the club’s community partners such as Habitat for Humanity, which builds affordable homes for low-income families; Reinvestment Partners, which provides housing counseling; the Community Empowerment Fund, which offers savings opportunities and financial education; and SunTrust Bank. These partners, along with Duke staff, help employees on the path to improving their credit, saving money, and connecting with lenders and realtors.

0
CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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

cef