Offering No-Interest Loans to Individuals & Families in Need | A Project to Serve the Ossining Community

History

The Ossining Micro Fund (OMF) is a non-profit organization, established in 2004, offering interest–free loans to individuals and families who encounter unexpected financial obstacles. The OMF was inspired by the Eleanor Roosevelt No Interest Loan Fund (ERNILF), formed by a collaboration between a mosque, temple and church in Ithaca, NY, some three decades ago. The through-line connecting these organizations is Dana Levenberg, who serves as the Ossining Town Supervisor.

Dana’s aunt, and her uncle, a Holocaust survivor, were founders of the fund in Ithaca. They had a deep appreciation for being welcomed in a new land and thought about ways of “paying it forward”. Beyond getting acclimated to new surroundings, they knew personally some of the challenges faced by refugees who might need help dealing with unexpected financial problems.  While wanting to give back, they needed to provide structure to the concept of granting no-interest loans with little paperwork, to identify trustworthy recipients, to get donors, and to partner with organizations to make this philanthropy sustainable.

Nearly 20 years ago, Dana saw the need for different helping hands in Ossining. Referencing the model established in Ithaca, she began working with Catherine Borgia, the other co-founder of the OMF. Soon, Henry Atterburg had the Ossining Rotary Club contributed the initial starting donation. Before long, Sue Donnelley and Sandy Galef joined, to inform, engage, and attract partner organizations, donors, and professionals to establish operational procedures.

Currently, the OMF has approximately 80 outstanding loans exceeding $90,000. The organization has over a dozen volunteers providing diverse skills: screening applicants, raising money, and providing leadership. Capital raised from private donations is used for loans; repayments by recipients are plowed back into the revolving loan fund.