Community Empowerment Fund (Chapel Hill, NC)


  • Name:Maggie West
  • Title:Program Coordinator

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Community Empowerment Fund
  • Address:108 W. Rosemary Street
    Chapel Hill, NC 27516
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:9192000233

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • The Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) cultivates opportunities, assets, and communities that support the alleviation of homelessness and poverty. CEF emphasizes a person-centered approach to overcoming crises and building towards long-term possibilities. We pair volunteers, primarily undergraduate students, with our members as “Advocates.” Advocates work alongside members to assist towards gaining employment, housing, and financial stability.

  • Overview:
  • The Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) is integrating consumer financial literacy and direct service delivery by providing supportive, holistic, and relationship-based financial services to individuals experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness. We focus on sustained and healthful transitions out of homelessness. Key to the mission and approach of CEF is the belief that people have a right to high-quality financial products and information, since these are essential in order for people to sustain housing. We provide homeless and near-homeless individuals with matched savings accounts, workforce development, financial education, and relationship-based support. CEF is a student-driven nonprofit organization serving Orange and Durham Counties of North Carolina, leveraging the time and energy of 250 student volunteers from UNC and Duke University to support over 450 current members (and 1,000 members since we started in 2009). CEF pairs two volunteers, primarily undergraduate students, with each of our members as “Advocates.” Advocates work alongside our members to assist in reaching goals, moving into independent housing, saving for significant assets, and achieving financial stability. By combining relational support and affordable financial services, we empower our members to save for big dreams and overcome generational poverty.

    CEF’s past experience in consumer financial literacy includes pioneering a matched savings account targeted to the specific needs of the homeless and near-homeless community. Through these accounts, CEF has built trusting relationships with the most vulnerable members of our community. As a result, 205 current participants have saved over $240,000 towards personal savings goals. Our additional experience in consumer financial literacy includes coordinating an educational program, called “Opportunity Classes,” which is taught by formerly homeless program graduates and incorporates financial education topics into a broader context of employment readiness and goal-setting.

    In our grassroots-oriented context, our long-term vision to increase consumer financial literacy is to situate asset-building and financial capability services within the network of existing community services. We believe that relationship-based financial services have a proactive role to play in services provided to homeless and near-homeless individuals. With Rose Foundation support, CEF will integrate consumer financial literacy into the programming of agencies that serve the area's poorest households. This project will advance creative financial education, access to mainstream accounts, and goal-oriented matched savings accounts, all in partnership with shelters, transitional housing, and affordable rental agencies; medical and mental health providers; workforce development organizations; recovery programs, and; other supportive social services.

    From an overall standpoint, we aim to develop and refine a model which is replicable and which increases the capacity of homeless service providers to meaningfully enhance the consumer financial literacy and access to affordable financial services for individuals experiencing a personal crisis.

  • History:
  • Founded in 2009, CEF is a student-led non-profit. We began as a partnership between shelter residents, UNC-CH Homeless Outreach Poverty Eradication, and the Law School Center on Poverty. CEF has since grown beyond Chapel Hill, now serving Orange and Durham. Launched as a micro-loan program, CEF quickly evolved to better meet the needs of our target community by adapting to focus on relationship-based support and saving. Our most significant expertise lies in building trusting relationships with the most vulnerable members of our community. This is evidenced by the initial success of our Safe Savings Program, through which 265 current members trust CEF to manage their savings in a for-benefit-of account. Our secondary area of expertise lies in our focus on empowerment and capability. We have a successful history of lifting up the leadership and potential of all our members, acting as advocates and sources of support, but ultimately taking a backseat as members lead and determine their own pathways to success. Our strengths in these areas are recognized locally and nationally through awards and publications.

  • Year established:2009
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:12
  • Advisory board size:9
  • Staff size:5


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID: