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Community Cohort Stories

Financial Resilience Community Cohort Announced

Nine people pose in two rows for a group photo
Front, left to right: IEI Policy and Program Associate Julia Kardos, Living Better Life CEO Bridget Phifer, Through the Trees Executive Director Yvette Brooks, Consultant Becky Bowen. Back, left to right: United Way of North Carolina Director of Mission Advancement Ed Bonilla, Land of Sky P20 Council Community Engagement and Data Management Specialist Melissa Zenz, Robeson County Church & Community Center Executive Director Brianna Goodwin, Fragile Families Network Founder Glenda Clare, IEI Director of Community Initiatives Samantha Graham.

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University is excited to announce the five regional teams that will make up the Financial Resilience community cohort. Members of this cohort include representatives from five organizations that are working to increase household financial resilience locally, especially for communities with historically increased barriers to saving and debt management. This is IEI’s tenth cohort promoting community-level capacity building.

Learn more about the five organizations selected for the cohort:

  • Fragile Families NETWORK provides support services to grandfamilies, which are created when a grandparent or another family member raises the child of a relative who cannot parent.
    • Participant: Glenda Clare
  • Land of Sky P20 Council is focused on increasing postsecondary financial aid awareness among communities and families so that more prospective students, from youth to adults, are knowledgeable about their options for beginning or continuing their career preparation studies at a community college or university.
    • Participant: Melissa Zenz
  • Living Better Life is committed to supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and providing economic development opportunities for eastern North Carolina.
    • Participants: Patricia Clanton, Bridget Phifer
  • Robeson County Church & Community Center provides emergency, short-term relief services to individuals experiencing crisis scenarios while developing systemic programming to address long-term solutions to break cycles of generational poverty.
    • Participants: Brianna Goodwin, Brittany Love
  • Through the Trees works to bridge the digital divide in Western North Carolina.
    • Participant: Yvette Brooks
Four people are pictured sitting around a conference room table, talking to each other
Members of the Financial Resilience Community Cohort met for the first time on June 26 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

The cohort met for the first time on June 26 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on NC State’s Centennial Campus. Members of the cohort were able to network together and make connections between their work. 

“Everyone that was in the room is someone that I can collaborate with,” said Fragile Families Network Founder Glenda Clare. 

Ed Bonilla of United Way of North Carolina presented on the new data set and insights on the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) population. Consultant Becky Bowen began the capacity building process with the cohort members, which will continue over the next two years.

“Our biggest hope is to network with other agencies who have come to the consensus that financial well-being is one of the major systemic areas of mobility for disadvantaged communities like Robeson County,” said Robeson County Church & Community Center Executive Director Brianna Goodwin.

IEI will share what the cohort learns with a statewide audience to capture lessons learned and inspire others to scale what works.

“IEI believes that local communities—with their traditions, willingness to work and history of coming together in tough times to solve big challenges—are the unit of change to spark action,” said IEI Director of Community Initiatives Samantha Graham. “The members of this cohort are the experts that can lead change and inspire others to raise household resilience levels across North Carolina.”

Over the next two years, each of the five cohort organizations will:

  • Receive an organizational assessment to identify key capacity building needs for their organization.
  • Work with a support provider who will address one or more of those needs over 12-18 months, depending on the time needed to deliver the support.
  • Participate in five semi-annual peer learning meetings over a 24-month period. Two in-person and three virtual meetings will include sharing successes and problem-solving challenges.
Logos of the five organizations included in the financial resilience community cohort

About Financial Resilience
Too many of us are unprepared for an economic downturn or even a modest financial emergency. According to a 2023 survey by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, 40 percent of American households reported they would be unable to cover more than a month’s expenses if they lost their main source of income. The 2024 Emerging Issues Forum examined financial resilience: the ability to financially withstand and recover from economic challenges. Participants offered best practices and actions that can be taken by households, policy makers, financial institutions, employers and others. The 2024 Emerging Issues Forum is part of IEI’s larger Project Resilience initiative, supported by Local Government Federal Credit Union.

About the Institute for Emerging Issues
The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University is a nonpartisan connector, bringing North Carolinians together to find solutions to the state’s emerging and most critical policy issues.