A Loudoun County philanthropic group, 100Women Strong, has created a fund to make emergency loans of up to $2,000 to assist Loudoun residents with expenses for housing, utility, car payments, medical, childcare or other needs.

The "Pay It Forward Direct Assistance Loan Fund," is funded and spearheaded by the philanthropic group, and other funding comes from a combination of businesses, foundations and nonprofit organizations, including the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. The short-term loans will be administered by Northern Virginia Family Service and are designed to be flexible and responsive, with a low interest rate. Re-payment will go back into the fund to make it sustainable to assist others in need. 

“COVID-19 has created extreme financial hardship for some of the most vulnerable in our community, who may be enticed by predatory lenders. Many of our neighbors may not be able to make ends meet and may not be eligible for other loan programs,” said Karen G. Schaufeld, founder and president of 100WomenStrong.

“We wanted to help them while creating a way that they can, in return, help their neighbors," Schaufeld added. "When recipients repay their loans, their money will go back into Pay It Forward, so another person can use those funds. 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.”

Pay it Forward is designed to be a viable and desirable alternative to high-interest lending programs. These loans will be no interest for the first six months and then will bear a 2-percent simple interest rate. All distributions will be made by Northern Virginia Family Service directly to vendors on behalf of the approved applicant.

Stephanie Berkowitz, president and CEO of Northern Virginia Family Service, said, “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.”

Eligibility requirements for the fund are as follows:

  • Must be a current Loudoun County resident.
  • Distributions are made on behalf of individuals/families only.
  • Loans are capped at $2,000.
  • Loans will be interest-free for the first 6 months. After 6 months, the simple interest rate will be 2% until the loan is fully repaid.  
  • Additional loans will be considered following full repayment of an existing loan.
  • The maximum duration of the loan will be 36 months.

The Pay it Forward Direct Assistance Loan Fund has $141,000 in available funding. This includes $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 donated $2,500 each. Businesses that donated $2,500 include 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 Round 4 of its COVID-19 Response Fund for Northern Virginia program. The fund has distributed more than $1.4 million in grants to 72 local nonprofit organizations providing services to individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Get Help or Donate Funds

Formed in 2008, 100WomenStrong is a group of philanthropists seeking to strategically invest in organizations and programs that enrich the lives of Loudoun residents.   

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