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Buffalo Co-Lab

skyline of Buffalo

Buffalo Co-Lab advances an equitable economy and democratic community, collaboratively integrating scholarly and practical understanding to strengthen civic action.

Milena Saakyan

Milena Saakyan photo
CALS '22
Buffalo, NY
Westminster Economic Development Initiative, High Road

Work Highlights

Analyzed how historical policies such as redlining impact present-day economically disadvantaged communities, especially as it relates to their ability to participate in the financial mainstream.

Researched predatory lending in the city of Buffalo and nationwide, focusing on reasons for their prevalence and tactics used to trap borrowers into cycles of debt.

Conducted interviews with CDFIs in Buffalo and peer cities to understand their work, future goals, and how they can improve to best serve marginalized communities.

Developed a guide detailing predatory lending warning signs and offering recommendations on how CDFIs can combat predatory lending in their communities, both with individual clients and through long-term policy goals.


Summer Takeaway

Local community organizations are incredibly impactful both in the areas they serve directly and in advocating for policy change broadly.


Supervisor Quote

Milena has jumped right in to the research of CDFIs and predatory lending and has shared so much helpful information for WEDI's team who are working directly with microenterprises. It has been wonderful to have had such an efficient researcher support our work these past couple months and we are truly impressed with the resources she has provided our team with.

–Bob Doyle and Yanush Sanmugaraja