As a company, Nugget has always been grounded by a sense of place. Many of our earliest teammates either grew up in North Carolina, went to college here, or both. The product that we manufacture — furniture — is core to our state’s industrial legacy. Even our product name hints at where we’re from: the Nugget’s unique pillows are called Triangles, just as the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is locally known as “The Triangle.”
In so much that we do, we strive to operate locally, to be a grounded, active part of our North Carolina community, even with a customer base that stretches all across the U.S. and Canada. Those efforts are present in our hiring, our wages, our nonprofit giving, and now — in what, at first glance, we know isn’t the most fun or engaging topic — our banking. (Yeah, this really is a blog post from a kids couch company about banking… but stick with us.)
When it comes to banking, it doesn’t get more community-minded than CDFIs — financial institutions dedicated to operating for the betterment of their community rather than shareholders alone. Think taking care of people and making a profit (yes, it’s possible to do both!). We’re lucky to live and work in a financially forward-thinking area, too: in Durham, NC, we have three amazing CDFIs right here in our own backyard.
CDFIs empower us to incorporate economic justice into our business practices by putting our dollars to work in our local community, often with traditionally underserved populations. Where we invest our funds matters just as much, if not more, than where we donate. By regularly evaluating these kinds of company choices, we’re able to take small steps towards economic justice and a more equitable future for all.
CDFIs: A Crash Course
Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are private financial institutions that focus on a double bottom line: financial and societal gains. Throughout the 1900’s to today, CDFIs have played an important role in economic revitalization and community development; in 1994, the federal government created the CDFI Fund to further support the sector’s growth.
How do they do that? From the basics of offering traditional banking services, like savings and checking accounts, to more advanced financial offerings, such as small business loans, nonconforming mortgages, and wealth education, CDFIs offer many of the same financial services as large institutions but with a unique emphasis on access.
Their deep knowledge of local communities is a unique asset, empowering them to provide flexible, customizable financial services, often in partnership with local nonprofit and government leadership. “Right now, with PPP loans, CDFIs are emerging as the real MVPs, making sure that the communities they serve aren’t being left in the dust,” says Perkins. “Deposits placed with Self-Help will provide communities in Durham with safe and responsible lending options so that people can really live and provide a quality of life for themselves and their families.”
Meet our Partner CDFIs
We are working with three organizations: Self-Help, Latino Community Credit Union (LCC), and Mechanics & Farmers Bank. Each has a strong presence in our home state, in addition to areas farther afield.
With a focus on serving unbanked individuals and immigrant communities, Latino Community Credit Union provides tailored solutions to their members’ needs. Immigration Assistance loans help ease the financial strain of the immigration process, while Micro Business accounts empower small business owners to bank with confidence. DACA applicants can apply for a Dreamer loan and even the youngest community members can join in the fun with Tita’s Savings Club.
In just the last 20 years, LCCU’s services have impacted a truly inspiring number of people. Nearly 5,000 have bought their first home; 65% of their population was previously unbanked and now have access to financial resources. Since launching a scholarship fund in 2016, LCCU has awarded $350,000 to aspiring students.
Founded in 1907, Mechanics & Farmers Bank emerged during a period of growth on what was known as “Black Wall Street” in Durham, NC. Prioritizing community first and foremost is built into the DNA of the bank, and continues today with their COVID-era support for small businesses. In addition to coaching businesses through the loan application process for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the bank prioritized investment into minority-owned businesses through PPP loan disbursement in 2020.
Learn More about CDFIs in Your Community
If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with us. We are proud of our decision to invest with CDFIs and invite you to learn more about how CDFIs impact your own community. Interested in working with a CDFI for your own personal or business financial services? Click here to search by state, organization type, and more. It'll be a good investment, in more ways than one.