CDF has developed a wide range of tools to assist its clients and customers, including loans, financial literacy training/coaching, payments assistance, check cashing, wiring money, etc. These financial services, which mostly are provided at a greatly reduced price or at no price, have proven very helpful to our customers and clients. But we have never had grant-making capacity as one of those tools.
A few years ago, we did receive a grant from the Perlman Angel Fund to enable us to pay off half of the principal balance of some loans of some of our borrowers. This was extremely effective but still did not represent the capacity to direct grants. And it was available only to our installment loan borrowers. The grant also allowed us to offer incentive payments to a few clients for financial coaching with a CDF demonstration program for people deeply impacted by Covid. But these funds, too, were restricted for only certain uses and people.
More recently, we began receiving smaller grants from a related foundation, The Change Reaction. With these funds, we have been able to make small grants from $200 up to $500 to several of our customers.
Through November 2022, we have made 47 grants totaling $14,865. The funds have been used for medicines, rent, paying bills, funeral expenses, debt payments, food and one walker.
It has been an incredible experience to see the happiness (and tears) that these funds have brought. It is extraordinary to understand that these relatively small amounts of cash mean so much to people who have been struggling through so many difficult issues.
It also is a sign of our times when so many are struggling so mightily and have so little while so many others have so much. The inequality we see manifested in our store is tragic and unnecessary and needs to be corrected.
However, we are very thankful to have another tool available to provide assistance to the people we work with.