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On October 28, 2020, Filene Research Institute launched its Center of Excellence for Community Social Impact and welcomed CURS Faculty Fellow Mai Thi Nguyen as its new research fellow.

Nguyen will lead this five-year project to expand knowledge on the practice and impact of credit union’s social and community development efforts through original and applied research. Outcomes will provide credit unions with insights and resources needed to better serve their communities and drive transformative community change.

Mai Thi NguyenNguyen is an associate professor in the department of city and regional planning at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director of the UNC Center for Community Capital. As a housing and urban scholar who seeks to improve the lives of vulnerable and underserved populations, her research is inspired by the goal of creating equitable and resilient communities.

“I am fascinated by the idea of geography as destiny—that the neighborhood you were born into is predictive of so many outcomes,” said Nguyen. “Much of my work is centered around how to communicate complex research to educate and move people to create social change and take action.”

Current public health, economic and social injustice crises further demonstrate that financial services are indispensable community partners, and credit unions are positioned to be leaders in the national conversation about financial well-being and equality.

“The value of credit unions as providers of trustworthy and responsible financial services is already widely recognized. But credit unions, their community partners and the people they serve are forging new and innovative pathways to positive social impact,” said Filene’s Senior Director of Research Taylor Nelms. “Through the work of this research center, we will be measuring and showcasing the impact of the work credit unions are already doing. And we will get creative to move organizations to action and leverage cooperative finance to make real and lasting change, with positive impacts for individuals and collective and intergenerational transformation for communities.”

Community Impact

Filene Research Institute strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial well-being. As an independent cooperative finance think tank, Filene’s membership network connects a community of leaders and bright minds to change lives through innovation, truth and cooperation. In addition to delivering cutting-edge, actionable academic research, Filene also provides incubators to test and scale solutions, events to spark organizations into action and advisory services to help accelerate and implement innovation. For more information, visit and @fileneresearch

The UNC Center for Community Capital is a non-partisan, multi-disciplinary research center housed within The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a leading center for research and policy analysis on the power of capital to transform households and communities in the United States. It is part of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences and an affiliate of UNC’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies.


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