This month we are highlighting the great work of our partners at the Center for Responsible Lending, and specifically, how our corps member Juan Ramon Riojas is serving with them this year.
I work at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) as a research and policy fellow. CRL was founded in 2002 as a nonprofit to advocate for a fair and inclusive financial marketplace. While CRL was founded in Durham to protect North Carolinians from unjust lending, it has grown into a national organization with offices in Washington D.C. and Oakland. In the last couple of decades, CRL has become a renowned watchdog of financial institutions and regulators. CRL influenced policy decisions on the state and federal level, including a payday lender ban in North Carolina and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
My service year at CRL has been divided into three equal sections of time. In each section, I work with a different team. First, I worked with the federal policy team, currently I am working with the research team, and next, I will work with the state policy team. My CRL supervisors, Graciela and Christelle, have devised work plans for me that enable me to not only help advance CRL’s mission, but also become skilled and knowledgeable in technical areas.
On the federal policy team, I spent much of my time working on messaging for campaigns related to small dollar and student lending. One of my favorite projects involved CRL preparing a staff member to testify before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee related to Buy Now Pay Later services. I have also particularly enjoyed working with the Faith and Credit Roundtable, a diverse group of faith leaders affiliated with CRL who campaign for inclusive financial policies.
On the research team, I will be working on data analysis for quantitative research projects as well as transcription for a qualitative project. The issue areas I will be focusing on are student lending and criminal justice debt—both extremely relevant considering I begin law school in the fall.
My coworkers at CRL work more diligently than anybody I have ever met. They care profoundly about the people they seek to serve and inspire me to imagine a future that is more just. I am deeply grateful for the kindness they display and the hope they impart.