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CFED and the 1:1 Fund

28 Jun

The Corporation of Enterprise Development (CFED), a national nonprofit based in Washington, DC, is dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for low-income families and communities. Their impact is achieved through their “think-do-invest” approach grounded in public policy, community practice and private markets:

  • Think: CFED explores ideas and practices that enable families and communities to participate in the mainstream economy
  • Do: They gather investors, local businesses and policymakers to demonstrate how programs would work for communities nationwide
  • Invest: They onboard investors and policy advocates eager to see the large scale implementation of programs that could bring about positive social and economic change

The 1:1 Fund: Among the most recently implemented programs is the 1:1 Fund, CFED’s newest social enterprise. The 1:1 Fund is a creative approach to enlisting donor support and creating economic opportunity for American’s youth. The program is led by Carl Rist out of Durham’s CFED office. Carl previously served as the director of CFED’s Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship and Downpayment (SEED) initiative, bringing innovative matched savings programs to children and youth in low-income families. The 1:1 Fund, on the other hand, is an online savings portal that harnesses the power of technology, state-of-the-art marketing and data management, enabling donors to help students save money. Simply put, it’s an opportunity for anyone to match their donation with that of a student to help them realize their dreams.

How does it work? For every dollar a student saves, their donor matches the same amount, penny for penny. Research shows that a student with a savings account is four times more likely to go to college, seven times more likely if the account is in their own name! The dreams of too many students remain dreams simply because of the lack of support and access to funding. The 1:1 Fund presents a solution to this problem.

Think about it, then do it… invest! Here’s a link to the 1:1 Fund, the CFED website and their social links:


Green Plus: Helping small go green!

27 Jun

For the last decade or so, the media has been awash with news of big business making positive social and environmental change through their sustainability initiatives. Today, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a norm, not only to please the growing concerns of conscious consumers but to reap the benefits of CSR programs: cost savings, happier employees, greater efficiencies, improved business ethics, the list goes on… While big business – the large multinationals the media love to scrutinize – may steal the limelight, many small businesses were left out of the conversation.

This was the realization of Tony Waldrop, of the University of North Carolina, back in 2004. Tony wondered when green opportunities would make their way to the many small businesses and nonprofits in his community. There was a disconnect: While these small businesses were eager to “go green,” the big business solutions were impractical and out of reach.

Working with UNC’s business school, Tony set about closing the gap between the university’s excellent sustainability programs and local businesses. While UNC worked in a business plan, Tony formed a group of interested parties including local businesses, chambers of commerce, and philanthropists. In 2009, with the business plan ready and social entrepreneur Chris Carmody at the helm, a pilot program was launched, now known as Green Plus.

On April 12, the Institute for Sustainable Development honored the 2012 Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise Award Winners at the Research Triangle Park Foundation.

Today, just three short years later, Green Plus operates in 12 states, working with over 250 small businesses. Their 2-year certification program enables Green Plus to “educate, motivate, and recognize smaller enterprises for their efforts towards becoming more sustainable.” A 2011 Duke University survey of 31 Green Plus businesses found that:

  • 87% of businesses institutionalized their sustainability programs
  • 52% believed Green Plus certification generated new business
  • In most cases, over 80% of employees participated in the sustainability efforts
  • 77% of the business created partnerships with nonprofits through volunteering, donations, or in-kind support
  • Click here to learn more about their work and impact

Green Plus continues in its mission of democratizing the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) of sustainability by making it accessible to small businesses and their communities. Here’s their social links, connect with them:

Meals on Wheels of Durham: Over 1.75 million meals served

26 Jun

The Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is regarded as the oldest and largest organization in the United States offering meal services to people in need. What began with canteens to British service men during World War II grew into America’s first Meals on Wheels program launched in Philadelphia in the 1950s. Today MOWAA is the largest volunteer army in the nation with between 800,000 and 1,7 million volunteers working in 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs and providing more than one million meals a day.

How did Meals on Wheels come to Durham? In 1969, Durham’s City Center Church Council (the Durham Congregations in Action) commissioned a number of studies to determine how best they could provide for their local communities. The studies revealed that those who were unable to prepare their own meals were not adequately meeting their personal nutritional requirements, and in need of a program that provided them with ready-made meals. In 1975 Meals on Wheels of Durham was created. It started with just a handful of volunteers serving about a dozen elderly, disabled and homebound and alone clients but grew fast to serve 325 Durham residents and over 85,000 meals a year!

Don Lebkes, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, delivers meals across Durham. As a retired delivery man, Lebkes said Meals on Wheels was a similar job but he gets to help out the community! (The Herald-Sun | Lauren A. Vied)

Meals on Wheels of Durham recently relocated to a new facility in east Durham. Their operations are more efficient and they’re impact greater, which is good because more people are in need of help. Meals on Wheels of Durham is ready to grow and has a list of approximately 200 people waiting for assistance… but more funds and more volunteers are needed.

If you know of someone who homebound as the result of age, disability, or illness, lives alone and are handicapped, malnourished, elderly, or unable to take of their daily nutritional requirements, connect them to Meals on Wheels of Durham or one the MOWAA many affiliates nationwide. Here’s their social links, connect with them:

Communities in Schools: the leading dropout prevention organization

25 Jun

 Back in the 1970s, Bill Milliken, then a youth advocate in New York City, conceived the idea of bringing community resources into public schools and founded Communities in Schools. In little over 30 years, Communities in Schools has become the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization. Their network includes over 5,000 passionate professionals in 25 states and D.C., who serve nearly 1.3 million young people in over 3,400 schools. Their mission: to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Communities in Schools of Wake County

Communities in Schools of Wake County  (CIS Wake) has been supporting schools in the N.C. Triangle for more than 20 years. CIS Wake currently serves over 500 students in five after-school community-based learning centers and in six Wake County public school sites. By the end of this year CIS Wake will have completed the implementation of Communities in School’s national model, enabling them to expand their service offerings to more than 1,600 students. CIS Wake has three core programs:

Graduation Coaches: provide goal-oriented coaching to ensure that every CIS Wake student has a personalized plan to graduate from high school, to reduce and ultimately eliminate drop-out rates

Eligibility Coaches: fill a very similar role to Graduation Coaches but target student-athletes to address their specific needs

Learning Centers: provide students with a place to go afterschool where they get tutorials, mentoring and homework assistance. The Learning Center monitors the students’ progress in a) attendance, b) behavior, and c) coursework.

Communities in Schools continues to expand nationally, offer its services to more students, and improve its results. During the 2009 – 2010 school year:

  • 98% of students remained in school and on track to graduate
  • 88% of students were promoted to the next grade
  • 87% of seniors graduated on time
  • 82% of students reduced their high-risk behavior
  • Click here for more proven results

CIS Wake now looks forward to its expansion to 1,600 students, which includes opening a sixth community-based learning center, the addition of three new school locations and an increase to 250 community volunteers. To learn more about their plans and to get involved, connect with them! Here are their social links:

Self-Help Credit Union: Investing in Durham’s Future

22 Jun

The Center for Community Self-Help was founded in 1980 to address the lack of management skills among North Carolina’s worker-owned businesses. A few years later, as those needs evolved, the organization’s focus shifted to helping disadvantaged North Carolinians build wealth through home and small business ownership. With $77 raised from a bake sale, the Center for Community Self-Help established its financing affiliates – The Self-Help Ventures Fund and Self-Help Credit Union. During the years since, Self-Help Credit Union, and its affiliates, have expanded nationwide and invested a staggering $6.08 billion through more than 70,000 loans to families, individuals, and organizations. (Click here for more statistics of their impact).

Self-Help reaches out to females, low-income and low-wealth families, and rural and minority communities across North Carolina, Washington DC, California, and a number of other states. Their mission is to create and protect “ownership and economic opportunity for all, especially people of color, women, rural residents and low-wealth families and communities.” In Durham, where it all began, the organization has made tremendous progress in fulfilling its mission. Here’s how Self-Help has invested in Durham:

  • Building Neighborhoods: With the view that homeownership is the foundation of safe, stable neighborhoods, Self-Help has funded nearly 600 home loans to the value of $42 million.

A city grant and a loan from Self-Help enabled Kelli and Billy Cotter to renovate a Main Street shop space for their new restaurant, Toast.

  • Strengthen Community Organizations: By providing critical infrastructure and services to underserved communities, organizations funded by Self-Help are able to make a meaningful contribution to the city and its residents. Self-Help has made $23 million in loans to local nonprofits.
  • Growing Local Businesses: Self-Help finances small businesses because they are the engines of the local economy. Self-Help depositors have invested over $98 million in 400 businesses in Durham County.
  • Revitalizing Downtown: Self-Help encourages local businesses to invest in the city’s infrastructure. The organization has renovated seven buildings at the cost of $14 million and created homes for several Durham institutions.
  • Advocating for Financial Reform: Self-Help’s Durham-based Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) advocates for consumers of financial services in North Carolina and nationwide. The CRL and a coalition of like-minded organizations have saved North Carolinians hundreds of millions of dollars by curtailing predatory loan practices.

While Self-Help has a far-reaching mission, their key lesson learned is simple, eloquent and note-worthy: “Over time we have learned, and demonstrated, that low-income borrowers pose no greater credit risk than other borrowers. Our borrowers have proven their determination to repay their loans, build their businesses, improve their communities, and build wealth through home ownership and home equity.”

Please visit their site to learn more about this great organization.

KidZNotes: Using the Power of Music for Good

21 Jun

Inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema music education program, KidZNotes is a nonprofit organization that uses musical instruction as a vehicle for social change and poverty alleviation in Durham’s poorest neighborhoods. By improving their musical performance, KidZNotes instruction helps children to develop values and aspirations for personal upliftment, encourages them to make positive decisions about their future, and contributes to their success in school and in society. In only the second year of its three-year East Durham Pilot Project, KidZNotes already plays an important role in the Durham community and looks bound for continued success.

The organization’s ambitious mission is rooted in well-established El Sistema ideals (listed here) published by economist and musician José Antonio Abreu in 1975. Venezuela’s El Sistema program now oversees 125 youth orchestras and training programs and over 310,000 children nationwide. While these are admirable ideals to aspire for, KidZNotes has identified clear objectives to guide the organization:

  • Encourage children’s participation in music training and improve their musical performance abilities
  • Foster the development of children’s social behavior and values that contribute to success at school and in society
  • Support the development of children’s school readiness and academic achievement
  • Encourage children’s positive decision-making
  • Promote parents’ engagement in program and community activities

The program performs a basic but vital preventative function in the children’s lives by helping them choose to stay away from drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, and harmful relationships, and the many ills of underrepresented urban communities. Children that succeed in the program develop the will to improve both their musical ability, and their social and economic situation.

This year the organization added its fourth school to grow the program to 100 children, partnered with the North Carolina Symphony, established a home-base in East Durham and taken root in the community. KidZNotes is carefully is documenting the success of East Durham’s pilot project, and looks forward to expanding into other areas of Durham and North Carolina.

Here are their social links, connect with them!

The Tomorrow Fund: Educating Students to Create Leaders

20 Jun

The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students (TTFHS) has long recognized how tertiary education can empower young Hispanic/Latino students to become leaders in their communities, and can act as a driver of social and economic change. Launched in 2009, the organization has been helping young Hispanic/Latino students from low income families afford their college tuition. In its first two years alone, they have made a total of $118,000 in grants and assisted 33 students at 8 different North Carolina colleges.

North Carolina’s Young Leaders

TTFHS offers grants to North Carolina post-secondary institutions for their Hispanic immigrant students in financial need. In return, the receiving institutions agree to provide additional financial assistance to its TTFHS Hispanic scholars. The Tommorrow Fund’s goal is not simply to provide the scholarships, but to bridge the final financial aid gap Hispanic students still face once all other possible financial assistance has been applied. In doing so, TTFHS becomes an agent of change in North Carolina’s underrepresented communities, helping its young adults to become leaders and be a part of that change.

W deeply admire TTFHS’s commitment to helping young Hispanic students in North Carolina and look forward to seeing their amazing accomplishments in 2012!

Here are their social links, connect with them!


Denise Chan is the Marketing Associate at Catchafire. Prior to Catchafire, she was a freelance blogger at Millennial Matchmaking. Denise graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies.

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