100WomenStrong Launches $2K ‘Pay it Forward’ Loans

A new fund willmake $2,000 of emergency cash assistance available to Loudoun County residents struggling to pay for housing, utility bills, car payments, medical costs, childcare or other needs.

The Pay It Forward Direct Assistance Loan Fund is led by 100WomenStrong and funded by that group with a combination of businesses, foundations and other nonprofit organizations, including the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

Karen Schaufeld, founder and president of 100WomenStrong, said the short-term loan program is meant to be an alternative to high-interest lending programs. The loans will bear no interest for the first six months, and then will bear a 2-percent simple interest rate

 “COVID-19 has created extreme financial hardship for some of the most vulnerable in our community, who may be enticed by predatory lenders,” Schaufeld stated. “Many of our neighbors may not be able to make ends meet and may not be eligible for other loan programs. We wanted to help them while creating a way that they can, in return, help their neighbors.”

Repaid loans go back into the fund to assist others in need. 

“We see this program lasting much longer than the COVID crisis and hope it becomes a sustainable, useful tool for hard-working families in our area experiencing temporary financial setbacks,” Schaufeld stated.

The loans will be administered by Northern Virginia Family Service.

“We are proud to partner with 100WomenStrong to address the surge in financial hardship among our Loudoun County neighbors,” stated said Stephanie Berkowitz, president and CEO of Northern Virginia Family Service. “100WomenStrong’s leadership in recognizing the critical needs around us, coupled with dedicated investments from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and a network of community-minded supporters, is an incredible gift. The creative partnership fueling this innovative, self-sustaining program will help ensure that our neighbors have the food, medications, and supplies they need to weather these unprecedented and challenging times.”

To be eligible, borrowers must live in Loudoun County. Distributions are made to individuals and families only. Loans will have a maximum duration of 36 months, and additional loans will be considered after full repayment of an existing loan.

The loan fund currently has $141,000 available, including $50,000 from 100WomenStrong, $40,000 from Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and $20,000 from an anonymous donor. The Schaufeld Family Foundation, The Bosserman Family Fund, The McCall-Hellman Family Fund, Bobbi Schaufeld and John and Jessica Wood each donated $2,500, along with Custom Ink, Bank of Charles Town, Bank of Clarke County, MainStreet Bank, Sandy Spring Bank, Summit Bank and SWaN & Legend. Langhorne Custom Homes donated $1,000.  

Funds from Community Foundation for Northern Virginia were given as part of its COVID-19 Response Fund for Northern Virginia program, which has distributed more than $1.4 million in grants to 72 local nonprofit organizations.

 “So many individuals and families in our region continue to suffer terribly under the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus and its fallout. Applications for unemployment benefits are at an all-time high, and local human service nonprofits now report a 3- to 5-fold increase in demand for their services,” stated Eileen Ellsworth, President and CEO at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. “Direct financial assistance to individuals and families hardest hit by the crisis remains a top priority for our COVID-19 Response Fund.”

To request a loan from Pay It Forward, Powered by 100WomenStrong, visit www.nvfs.org/payitforward. Businesses or others wishing to contribute to the fund may contact Pam Ray at [email protected].

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