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Community Finance Fellowship: Learning to Use Finance as a Tool for Change in a Time of Action

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The inaugural cohort of Community Finance Fellows—Louise Jordan, Andrew Moncada, Benson Ochira, Essence Rodriguez, Crystal Sevilla— impress and inspire us every day and it’s not fair to keep their wisdom to ourselves. So we invited them to share their thoughts on how finance can invoke true racial and economic justice. The fellows’ perspectives and lived experiences give us invaluable insight into how we can use finance as a tool for real impact.

Building a New, More Equitable Normal for Small Business and Nonprofits

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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the effects of centuries of racist policies. If we don’t act fast, this crisis will rob our communities of vibrancy, diversity, and strength for many generations to come. The current global recognition of the deep roots of racism reinforces how critical it is to use all the tools in one’s toolbox to advance racial justice. As such, finance can and should be used as a tool for change in advancing economic and health equity in our communities. Together, we can turn the tide.

Fighting for Immigrant Rights During COVID-19

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During times of crisis, it’s even more critical to uphold our values and stand up for those who are denied the right to stand up for themselves. Join our fight for immigrant rights by joining the Freedom100 Circle, a one-year commitment where members engage with Freedom for Immigrants and Mission Driven Finance to launch and grow our Freedom100 Bond Fund, while educating the public about the U.S. immigration detention system and community-based alternatives to detention.

How the Community Finance Fellows are learning during a pandemic

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While sheltering-in-place during a pandemic, we welcomed five Community Finance Fellows to our team in March to begin learning in a virtual environment: Louise Jordan, a renewed San Diegan with a legal background who moved back from Virginia to join us; Andrew Moncada, a financial analyst from Florida who wants to run his own impact investment firm one day; Benson Ochira, a refugee from Uganda with a degree in business management; Essence Rodriguez, an undergrad research fellow with the U.S. Immigration Policy Center; and Crystal Sevilla, an executive assistant from San Diego with a deep interest in economics and finance. See how they are learning during a pandemic.

Small Businesses & Nonprofits Respond to COVID-19

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The COVID-19 crisis has forced small businesses and nonprofits around the world, including our Advance borrowers, to forget business as usual and respond in creative ways to best serve their community and survive—quickly. From delivering essential household goods and locally sourced food to staying connected with families by livestreaming nature walks, these businesses and organizations demonstrate the flexibility, resilience, and heart that make small businesses critical for communities to thrive.

Finding the way back through evidence-based holistic treatment

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The Way Back uses trauma-informed care in its client activities—clinical groups, education groups, mindfulness meditation, relapse prevention groups, codependency groups, anger management, emotional regulation, and individual psychotherapy. “We are training men to be better fathers, better husbands, better employees, to stay out of prison, to work, to communicate,” says The Way Back Executive Director Chris Thomas, a licensed therapist who has been sober for 25 years. “Men are an important part of family structure, and addiction is a family disease.”

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