“We are overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to grow with the over 1,000 Members and 250 Advocates who show up every day to care for each other. It encourages us to learn from and lean on one another as we move forward together. Thank you for believing in this community of boundless support as we grow towards the abundant possibilities we have before us.”
“When you are with CEF, you are a part of the thread that makes us all one community.” Chinita is a CEF graduate, and her poetic statement during a CEF celebration perfectly describes the palpable connectivity in this community.
Whether we’re weaving together programs and resources to form a holistic network of support, or connecting our Members and Advocates together in people-centered relationships, CEF is steadily crafting a beautiful, interconnected, and interwoven community.”
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.
“We share these stories, and are reminded just how profound it is to be a part CEF. We share them with gratitude for the whole wide CEF family—Members, Advocates, supporters, and friends. Thank you for reading, writing, and living this story with us!”
Fostering Community Care in Durham and the Triangle
CEF received a $5,000 Community Care Fund (CCF) grant through the Duke University Office of Durham and Regional Affairs’ “Doing Good In the Neighborhood” (DGIN) program in October of 2015. We sat down with Channa Pickett, Senior Program Coordinator for Community Outreach, Engagement, and Evaluation, to talk about the CCF grant, her work at DARA, and her story.
When Channa Pickett joined the Duke University Office of Durham and Regional Affairs (DARA) in 2008, she was charged with building and running a grant-making program for Doing Good in the Neighborhood, Duke’s employee-giving campaign. Doing Good in the Neighborhood (DGIN) was designed to connect Duke employee donors to an array of giving options that impact the Durham community. Today, Duke employees can choose to donate to five options — neighborhoods, youth, schools, health, and the Community Care Fund — in addition to being able to donate to the United Way.
CEF received its grant through the Community Care Fund, which provides funding to Triangle nonprofits that present “strong and innovative proposals.” CEF will be using its grant money to deliver and continuously improve personalized one-on-one financial coaching to Durham residents, leveraging these efforts towards stable transitions from shelters into permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.
Community investment, especially in local schools, is what former Duke President Nannerl Keohane imagined when she created the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership in 1994. “I really believe that Duke has in its heart and in its mission an investment in the community,” says Pickett, “and I think that happens in hundreds if not thousands of ways.”
For over two decades, Duke has bolstered communities and organizations in Durham and beyond through targeted giving and organizational support.
While raising money is not always an easy task, especially during a recession, Duke employees have continued to step up to the challenge raising $647,985 in 2015. Money raised through DGIN has been invested into high-impact programs and organizations that make our community a better place.
“It’s been an incredible experience watching the DGIN campaign grow over the past eight years,” Pickett reflected. “I’m always impressed by the generosity of my colleagues across the campus and health system.” Initially Pickett thought grant-making would be simple; however, she soon realized the unique challenges grant-makers face. “We feel a real sense of responsibility to our Duke donors to invest their money wisely,” Pickett says. “With so many deserving organizations in Durham, Wake, and Orange counties, we often face difficult funding decisions.”
In addition to her work with DGIN, Pickett oversees several Latino community outreach initiatives including Enlaces, a Latino youth outreach program for elementary and middle school students. “In 2008, as we started talking with school and community leaders, we heard the need for more support for our Latino community members,” Pickett recalled.
“We were seeing tremendous growth in our Latino Community,” she says, “yet language and cultural barriers prevented students and parents from accessing many school and community resources and fully engaging in the education of their children.” Partnering with El Centro Hispano, Pickett helped start Enlaces, a strengths-based program that better connects Hispanic students and parents to school staff and resources. The Enlaces team uses a holistic approach to meeting the needs of families and works to enhance communication and understanding among youth, parents, and school staff.
In an earlier interview, Maria, the mother of an Enlaces student at Rogers-Herr Middle School, said the parent workshops and the support of Enlaces staff have made a big difference for her family. “The meetings help me relate to and have more conversations with my son,” she said. “I’ve learned how to create a good studying environment at home, and I feel more connected with my son’s teachers.”
Through the years, Enlaces has expanded the focus from school navigation to parent leadership development and advocacy. It’s been exciting and very rewarding “to see parents go from calling us [Enlaces] for support to contacting the school directly, requesting their own meetings, and advocating for their issues,” Pickett reflects.
Now in her eighth year working for DARA, Pickett is excited to focus on cultivating youth leaders through Enlaces. “Our youth have a lot to say about their own experiences. We want to help them realize change on issues that impact their lives.” Pickett says that it’s “a pleasure and an honor to work in this office and to have an opportunity to invest in others as others have invested in me when I was a student at Durham Tech and Duke.”
We’re appreciative of Pickett’s efforts and of DARA’s generous support of CEF!
CEF is pleased to announce our participation with Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) in the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s (CFED) Intensive Learning Cluster on Integrating Financial Capability into Social Service Delivery Programs. CEF and UMD were selected from a pool of over 100 applicants nationally to participate as part of this collaborative effort alongside 10 other organizations doing similar work to CEF.
Relationship-based financial services are CEF’s bread-and-butter, and this partnership with UMD is a unique opportunity to take a step back and look at how we can more intentionally and collaboratively build financial capability in to homeless services.
CEF is now holding office hours at Urban Ministries two nights every week and specifically working with UMD’s Journey Program, which provides case management support and shelter for 90 days or longer. Our previous on-site office hours acted as a launch point for this partnership. Because of the footwork of our past committed UMD members and the amazing team of Duke advocates, we are now able to jump-start an expanded partnership at UMD, one with much more support and structure. With the collaboration of the great case managers at UMD, CEF advocates can focus primarily on our strengths: relationships and financial services. We set up affordable credit union accounts with Self-Help Credit Union, make action plans for building credit, budget, save towards goals in Safe Savings Accounts, file taxes for free with the Benefit Bank, and more.
Through the learning cluster, CEF and UMD’s program will benefit from technical assistance through CFED, a national leader in asset-building, and we will have the opportunity to learn from our fellow learning cluster members – agencies providing emergency services, workforce development, and housing. In January, we were given the incredible opportunity to go to CFED’s office in DC for a nationwide kick-off meeting where we were given incredibly helpful tools, advice, and connections that will continue to help guide our work at UMD.
Read more about the learning cluster on CFED’s blog and stay tuned for more results and lessons learned!
By: Barbara B. Smith, LCSW
Clinical Assistant Professor, UNC School of Social Work
In the fall of 2011, I was working with a woman who was homeless. In one of our sessions, she mentioned that some “college kids” had given her a laptop. Who were these college kids, I wondered? Over the next year, I was very pleased to learn about the Community Empowerment Fund and the great work being done in our local community.
I had a more formal introduction to Jon Young and Maggie West through the 100K Homes Task Force. In January 2012, I started participating on this group, and offered to provide mental health assessments to people who might need them through the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. CEF advocates took me up on the offer, and brought in a woman they had been providing outreach to for a couple of years. They provided incredible support to her which allowed her to engage in treatment. We created a team around one person, and helped her access housing through Shelter Plus Care, and to successfully navigate a disability claim. She now has an apartment and income.
In July 2012, Gary Cuddeback, a colleague at the School of Social Work, and I received a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to implement a pilot of critical time intervention (CTI). CTI is an intensive case management model that is designed for people with mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We work hard to engage people in treatment, and to make sure there basic needs are met. Our CTI team depends on community partners for success, and CEF is a key partner. Many of the people we are working with in the CTI project had untreated mental illness. For those who need it, getting connected to mental health treatment can improve the chances of being successfully housed and employed.
At a time when our formal systems for supporting vulnerable people in our communities are faltering, our connection to CEF gives me hope. I’ve found energetic, committed, smart, and creative people who understand what it takes to help others change their lives: practical tools for financial empowerment, and social connection and support. I look forward to a long and mutually helpful partnership!
HOPE Gardens is a student-run community garden and urban farm in Chapel Hill, and has long been host to community potlucks and celebrations with CEF members. Their community garden workdays every Saturday have been a great way for CEF members to get active and grow their own veggies.
HOPE Gardens is launching a new program that will ensure CEF graduates who have moved into their own apartments have access to fresh, healthy produce. For a sliding scale subscription payment, HOPE Gardens will deliver a box of fresh produce from the garden directly to the doors of CEF graduates. Low-cost access to fruits and vegetables make a big difference for CEF graduates, many of whom suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure and yet struggle to afford the food best for their long-term health.
CEF and HOPE Gardens are both projects of the UNC Campus Y committee HOPE (Homeless Outreach Poverty Eradication), and have been closely connected to each other since we both were started in 2009. From CEF’s perspective, this new program at HOPE Gardens is a huge step towards making sure CEF graduates stay connected to resources and can sustain their transitions out of homelessness.
Founded in 1992, Housing for New Hope serves individuals experiencing and at risk of experiencing homelessness in Orange and Durham Counties. In Durham, HNH is one of CEF’s founding partners, helping CEF volunteers conduct Opportunity Classes that serve residents of the Dove and Phoenix recovery houses and Williams Square Apartments.
Jessie Hughes, the Transitional Housing Coordinator at HNH, recently provided CEF with a stellar letter of support for one of our upcoming grant applications. Her words were incredibly kind and we wanted to take a second to thank her and Housing for New Hope for their immense support, and to share some of their sentiments with you all here. Thanks so much Jessie!
From Jessie’s letter:
“What I know is this: CEF is real, they really mean it, they are the genuine article. I have seen CEF representatives treat homeless, drug-addicted, unemployed citizens with the same dignity and respect reserved for public officials. I have watched as they tailored their program to the needs of those they served without hesitation. I h ave witnessed them express authentic joy when sharing a success with one of their clients…”
“I have been a part of many partnerships in my career. My partnership with CEF is the partnership I am most proud of. They are truly unique in their flexibility and willingness to serve. CEF leaves things better than they found them. That is the essence of their work. No job it too big or too small, no project beyond hope.”