The Fountain Fund Appoints Jay Vilar as Boston Director

Vilar will lead organization’s efforts to support formerly incarcerated individuals in Boston

BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Fountain Fund, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing economic opportunity for formerly incarcerated individuals, has appointed Jay Vilar as its Boston Director. Vilar – who served most recently as a program director at the Haley House nonprofit in Boston – will spearhead plans to help The Fountain Fund fulfill its mission of increasing economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.

Founded in 2017, The Fountain Fund has established itself across central Virginia, New Orleans and Philadelphia to help citizens overcome the economic hurdles they face when released from jail or prison. In December, the organization announced its expansion to Boston, where citizens returning from incarceration face a distinct set of challenges – including a lack of affordable housing, high-quality employment, and mental healthcare.

By providing these individuals with loans they can use for anything from securing transportation and housing, to paying off court-related debt, to starting a business, The Fountain Fund helps provide the short-term resources necessary to get people back on their feet. At the same time, the nonprofit also has programming to help citizens manage their money, build credit and connect them to partners and community resources. Vilar will focus on building toward the distribution of the first loan in Boston in the coming months, partnering with reentry resources in the city and building coalitions of support for those who have been involved with the criminal justice system.

“Jay is the ideal person to lead The Fountain Fund’s Boston office,” said Erika Viccellio, Executive Director of The Fountain Fund. “His deep commitment to our cause, coupled with his extensive experience in community development, makes him well-equipped to lead our efforts in Boston as we continue to expand our reach and impact.”

Vilar comes to The Fountain Fund as someone intimately familiar with the barriers faced by the individuals returning from incarceration in Boston. At Haley House, Vilar successfully led initiatives that positively impacted the lives of returning citizens, providing them with resources, employment opportunities and community support. Vilar brings a combination of development, entrepreneurship and small business management to this work, having years of experience in the corporate world. Vilar’s track record of fostering community engagement, strategic program development and effective team leadership aligns perfectly with his role at The Fountain Fund.

“Having interacted with returning citizens in my role at Haley House and seen the struggles faced by members of my own family involved with the criminal justice system, I’m acutely aware of the challenges this population faces, not only in accessing basic needs like housing, employment and social services, but in having a place to turn to when they need support,” said Vilar. “When approached about the position with The Fountain Fund, I knew it was a fit immediately. It’s an organization with a track record of tangibly, and immediately, impacting the lives of the people they serve. I’m eager to get to work creating that same impact for the returning citizens of Boston.”

The Fountain Fund has issued 500 loans since its inception in 2017, totaling more than $2.25 million. Today, 86% of The Fountain Fund’s loans are in good standing, and 99% of The Fountain Fund’s client partners report at least one significant improvement in their lives. Three-fourths of client partners have established or improved their credit scores, and 100% say they can better support their families.

The Fountain Fund’s expansion into Boston is thanks in part to a $600,000 grant from the GreenLight Fund, a national nonprofit that helps communities identify and replicate programs that have succeeded elsewhere and fill a specific need in a given market. GreenLight Boston will continue to support The Fountain Fund’s expansion to Boston by introducing Vilar and team to key stakeholders and developing a strategy for growing the organization’s loan fund.

“After speaking with impacted individuals, local officials and community groups, it became clear that the returning citizens community in Boston was one with clear needs that weren’t being met,” said Melissa Luna, Executive Director of GreenLight Boston. “The financial and credit-building services provided by The Fountain Fund fill a tremendous gap in the support system for reentering citizens and are often exactly what this population needs to reacclimate to society.”

About The Fountain Fund

The Fountain Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to improve their lives and remain in their communities. Most formerly incarcerated people are ineligible for traditional bank loans and lines of credit or are subject to prohibitively high interest rates. The Fountain Fund addresses these issues by providing low-interest loans and financial coaching to help formerly incarcerated people build credit and achieve their self-determined goals. These goals most often include removing barriers to employment, increasing their wages, securing affordable housing, starting a business, and paying court fines. Loans typically range from $250-$15,000 and are offered for a 3-year term at a 5.0% interest rate (there is an incentive for ACH participation, a 3.0% interest rate, to create efficiencies in their collections process).

About GreenLight Fund

GreenLight Fund is a national nonprofit with a local focus that partners with communities to create opportunities for inclusive prosperity. The organization, in each of its sites, facilitates a community-driven process that matches local needs of individuals and families not met by existing programs to organizations with track records of success elsewhere. Working with communities, GreenLight identifies, invites in and launches proven organizations, providing collaborative support so they can quickly take root and deliver measurable social impact. Started in Boston in 2004, 53 portfolio organizations have been launched across GreenLight’s 13 sites — Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Greater Newark, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Twin Cities. For more information, visit:


Matt Miller