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2021 Annual Report: Hope Abounds

Hope Abounds: CEF Annual Report 2021

2021 was another difficult year. With the ups and downs of feeling like life was getting closer to pre-pandemic times and then going back into lockdowns and separation, CEF offered stability and companionship to Members. We stayed committed to remaining open, enforcing a vaccination or testing mandate for all staff and volunteers and continuing with COVID safety protocols to ensure that Members, staff, and Advocates could continue to meet safely. 

In this report you will learn more about CEF’s activities throughout 2021 — including information about our support of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, the creation of the House Us Now coalition, and the joy experienced through the Share the Love: Art Show. In addition, you will hear stories from Members and Advocates–uplifting the hope they experienced as they worked alongside CEF to ensure that everyone in our community has access to safe, affordable housing and the opportunity for financial freedom.

As you read through this report I hope you will feel that hope too, that you can see the potential hiding just below the surface. Thank you for being a part of this incredible community and for continuing to offer support as we learn to adapt to a new reality. We are so grateful for each and every contribution. Thank you for supporting this work!


2020 Annual Report: We are a Resilient Community

CEF Annual Report We are a resilient community 2020

As CEF has grown and blossomed over the years, we have been reminded, time and again, of the importance of being nimble and adaptive as we grow. As you will see in this report, 2020 was no different. In the enclosed stories you will learn how CEF responded to COVID-19 through articles and reflections from CEF’s staff. The report also shares more information about our quantitative impact and our year-end financials. This report is dedicated to the CEF Members who moved on in 2020, we hope you will hold them in your hearts and minds as you read.


Time + Talents Podcast: All Things Housing

CEF Presents Time + Talents Podcast

CEF is excited to share the first episode of the Time + Talents podcast. In this episode, CEF Advocates Lily Levin and Lizzy Kramer interview a number of people involved in housing in Durham County to help listeners learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people’s housing situations and what services are available for people who may need support.

This podcast was arranged by Durham Office & Community Organizer Rosa Green.

We hope you enjoy the podcast. Please share with your networks.

Time + Talents is CEF’s member-driven advocacy platform in Durham. Members chose the theme of this podcast and will continue to be involved in choosing future themes to ensure that the podcast is relevant to their needs and interests.


2019 Annual Report: We Grow Together

Cover for 2019 Annual report: collage representing community with the words hope, community, courage, and togetherness around the outside. Heart with houses, green space, and a gazebo in the middle

As CEF has grown and blossomed over the years, we have been reminded, time and again, of the importance of being nimble and adaptive as we grow. As you will see in this report, 2019 was no different. In the enclosed stories you will learn more about CEF’s deepening advocacy work; read about the programs we’ve built and strengthened; hear directly from Members, Advocates, and Staff about their connection to CEF; and see our quantitative impact.


Annual Report 2018 : “it takes a collective”

“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.”


Annual Report 2017 : We Are Interwoven

“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.”


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.




Annual Report 2016 : Transformative Community

“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!”


Channa Pickett & Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs (DARA)

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!


Learning Cluster: Partnership with UMD and CFED

Janet Xiao, Alice Ni, Dennis Xu, and Keyona Cooper at UMD’s bi-weekly finance office hours (Keyona made that cool hat she is wearing!)

CEF at our on-site bi-weekly finance office hours at UMD! 

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!

CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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