The Community Empowerment Fund was invited to the White House for a Community Leaders Briefing Series. Alongside social justice and grassroots activists from all over the country, CEF was there to provide our perspective and feedback on issues facing the Obama Administration.
The best part? We got to meet incredible people from nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, public schools, and neighborhood associations from Missouri, Michigan, California, Kentucky, and many of the nation’s 50 states. This gave us the invaluable opportunity to learn from creative leaders doing important work in their towns, and to spread the word about CEF and our missions and methods.
For example, we met Donnie from reStart, Inc. reStart is a 78,000 square foot shelter facility in Kansas City that provides residential services to families in a manner that upholds their personal lifestyle, housing whole families, unmarried couples, same-sex couples, and single individuals. We were thrilled to hear that reStart just recently launched a financial literacy program for their residents. CEF looks forward to sharing our curriculum and experiences, and supporting their new efforts!
CEF also connected with the Lancaster County Council of Churches in Pennsylvania. Offering an array of social services, the council runs a smart and simple “Wheels to Work” program that sustains itself financially and provides motor vehicles or bikes to those who need transportation to become self-sufficient. Transportation is a huge barrier for many of our members, and a program such as this is an exciting model to learn from as we explore potential matched savings account options to meet this need.
And this is just a small sample of the community visionaries we met in D.C… Advocates for Pell Grants, school teachers, counselors for Latina youth – everyone we met inspired us and reminded us that the nature of the movement for economic justice is national in scope, and that even though we as a country have a long way to go, when we look on the local level, we see that grassroots leaders are continuing to fight alongside their communities and are making real change.
The experience solidified for us that the stories and voices of CEF members must continue to be heard on the national level. We look forward to staying engaged with the White House, using the new tools for communication we learned about at the briefing.
We were honored to be invited, and grateful to Chapel Hill Mayor Kleinschmidt for recommending us to the White House staff. Thank you, Mayor Kleinschmidt, for this great opportunity!