Photo Tour: Grand Rapids Early Childhood Education Providers Enhance Facilities Through Learning Spaces Program

Haga clic aquí para ver el recorrido de fotos en español.

Quality early childhood education (ECE) is a key component of strong communities. It establishes a foundation for healthy growth and development benefiting families, neighborhoods, communities, and beyond. However, research and community engagement consistently show that there are thousands of children in Michigan communities who lack access to quality ECE.

In Grand Rapids, for example, a 2018 IFF study found that only 16% of children aged birth to two had access to licensed and registered providers. And while a subsequent 2020 analysis showed improvement in some communities, significant need remains in key Grand Rapids neighborhoods.

IFF’s Learning Spaces program aims to improve access to quality ECE by recognizing the key role facilities play in supporting early childhood education.

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: Grand Rapids Early Childhood Education Providers Enhance Facilities Through Learning Spaces Program  »

Photo Tour: $15 Million Adaptive Reuse of Historic Church Campus Enables Chicago Charter School’s Expansion

When Katherine Myers-Crum began considering launching a new charter school, two goals quickly came into focus: the school needed to be located in the Chicago neighborhood where it could have the biggest impact, and whatever facility the school leased would ideally serve as its permanent home.

The first goal was accomplished when Great Lakes Academy (GLA) opened its doors to kindergarten and first grade students in 2014 in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, which an IFF research study identified several years earlier as the community area in the city most in need of quality elementary school seats. Last August, the second goal was realized when GLA celebrated the completion of a $15.55 million renovation to the school and a vacant church adjacent to it – both of which were acquired the prior summer – that ensured GLA will remain an anchor in the community for years to come.

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: $15 Million Adaptive Reuse of Historic Church Campus Enables Chicago Charter School’s Expansion  »

Photo Tour: A Repurposed School Begins Its Second Act as a Building Block for Revitalization in North St. Louis

For the first half of the 20th century, Jeff-Vander-Lou was a destination. With major employers like Coca-Cola operating factories in the neighborhood, jobs were readily accessible, while the old St. Louis Cardinals’ stadium ensured a steady stream of customers for small businesses in Jeff-Vander-Lou. And, as one of the few neighborhoods in St. Louis where Black residents could purchase homes, it offered a path to prosperity for generations of St. Louisans who built lives there.

By 2002, however, when the Farragut Branch Elementary School in Jeff-Vander-Lou closed its doors for the last time, area residents had reason to doubt that the facility would ever be described as a “community asset” again. In the preceding five decades, the loss of local industry and systemic disinvestment in Jeff-Vander-Lou had exacted a significant toll,

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: A Repurposed School Begins Its Second Act as a Building Block for Revitalization in North St. Louis  »

Photo Tour: New Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Creates an Arts-Centric Gateway for a Local Business District

Access to quality affordable housing is an integral component of strong communities, as is a vibrant arts scene that enriches the lives of residents and contributes to the economic well-being of the community as a whole. In Oak Park, IL, a newly opened mixed-use development is meeting both needs while revitalizing a long vacant corner lot that serves as the gateway to a key business district in the suburb eight miles west of downtown Chicago.

Developed by The Community Builders (TCB), The 801 is a four-story, 12,500-square-foot transit-oriented development designed to increase the supply of affordable housing in the community for individuals and families who would otherwise be priced out of Oak Park amid rising costs and high demand for limited rental housing units.

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: New Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Creates an Arts-Centric Gateway for a Local Business District  »

Photo Tour: North Lawndale Employment Network’s First Permanent Campus

When the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) was established in 1999 as a result of a community planning effort, its “facility” was comprised of several cubicles at Sinai Community Institute. From these humble beginnings, the organization has evolved into a multifaceted nonprofit playing a critical role in creating a more vibrant future for Chicago’s West Side.

Through job training, financial coaching, and job placement and retention programming, NLEN has helped thousands of Chicagoans who face barriers to employment – many of them returning from incarceration – join the workforce. Now, for the first time, NLEN has a facility all its own befitting its status as one of the city’s preeminent workforce development organizations.

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: North Lawndale Employment Network’s First Permanent Campus  »

Photo Tour: The Paddocks Bring Affordable Workforce Housing to Rural Indiana Community

When asked what makes his hometown of Culver, IN, a special place, one of the first things Kevin Berger mentions is Lake Maxinkuckee. The second-largest natural lake in Indiana, it draws vacationers from all over the Midwest, many of whom own summer homes on its shoreline. And like in any popular lake town, those vacationers expect to be able eat in local restaurants, shop in local stores, and generally have access to amenities beyond the lake itself. All of that requires a local workforce, but what happens to the town when there’s nowhere those workers can afford to live?

That was one of questions that led to the development of The Paddocks, which opened last July and offers 48 affordable two- and three-bedroom apartments designed to expand the labor force in Culver,

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: The Paddocks Bring Affordable Workforce Housing to Rural Indiana Community  »

Photo Tour: Seeds of Health’s Tenor High School Opens New Campus in Historic Milwaukee Location

There are few maxims in real estate cited more frequently than “location, location, location.” Milwaukee nonprofit Seeds of Health can attest to that, having recently relocated one of two campuses for its charter high school following a five-year search for the right location.

On Seeds of Health’s wish list was a facility that would immediately expand Tenor High School’s capacity, provide ample room for additional growth in the future, and enable the school to provide students with a high-quality educational experience supplemented by other resources in the immediate area. At its new Journal Square Campus, the organization found a facility in a location that meets all three needs.

IFF provided a $5.4 million loan for the $6.6 million project,

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: Seeds of Health’s Tenor High School Opens New Campus in Historic Milwaukee Location  »

Photo Tour: The Marygrove Early Education Center Puts Young Learners at the Center of Community Revitalization

When students walked through the doors of the Marygrove Early Education Center (Marygrove EEC) for the first time on September 7, 2021, they excitedly entered a facility designed to nurture their development, revitalize a community, and redefine what’s possible in early childhood education (ECE).

For them, it was the opportunity to meet teachers and classmates on the first day of school and to get acclimated to the newly opened facility. For almost everyone else in attendance, it was a celebration of what happens when capital is aligned with justice, partners from different sectors work collaboratively to address systemic challenges, and the needs of the community come first.

Developed by IFF,

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: The Marygrove Early Education Center Puts Young Learners at the Center of Community Revitalization  »

Photo Tour: A ‘cathedral to youth tennis’ on Chicago’s South Side

XS Tennis and Education Foundation’s new 13-acre, 27-court facility has been called “a cathedral to youth tennis” (Chicago Magazine). With rare-to-the-Midwest clay courts, as well as an in-house physical therapist, conditioning gym, and academic center, it’s easy to see why.

But it represents so much more to the community than just a fancy athletic facility. The $17 million investment in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood is training the next generation of south siders not just to have a great backhand, but also to earn free college tuition.

“If every kid here doesn’t go to college, we have failed,” says Kamau Murray, the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization.

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: A ‘cathedral to youth tennis’ on Chicago’s South Side  »

Photo Tour: Chicago Artists Coalition embraces its new home in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor

Chicago loves the Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC). It has been a go-to nonprofit for nearly 45 years, helping artists live, work, and thrive in the Windy City – and, in the process, bolster the area’s vibrant culture and economy.

The organization’s popularity and endurance are also a testament to its willingness to plan for and embrace change. That sometimes means relocating. In 2018, CAC Executive Director Caroline Older told IFF, “Although the West Loop was fabulous to CAC, I knew our time there was limited.” Prices in the neighborhood had soared in recent years with the area’s growing popularity. Besides, she added, “The arts are known for trailblazing new neighborhoods.”

Older and her team targeted the Kinzie Industrial Corridor,

 » Read more about: Photo Tour: Chicago Artists Coalition embraces its new home in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor  »

Virtual Tour: Historic Building in the “Cradle of Rhythm and Blues” Reborn as an Incubator for BIPOC and Women Entrepreneurs

“The intention to disavow Black opportunities for ownership was very intentional, and counteracting intentional disinvestment requires intentional investment,” says Entrenuity Founder and President L. Brian Jenkins, referring to historic barriers to entrepreneurship for Black Americans rooted in systemic racism that continues to reverberate today. “How do we get past that and solve the problem? We believe the answer is coaching, connecting, and capitalizing.”

For more than 20 years, that’s what Jenkins and Entrenuity – a nonprofit business accelerator – have done, facilitating generational wealth building by equipping aspiring entrepreneurs of color and female entrepreneurs with the tools and resources necessary to run successful businesses. Starting out in a church on Chicago’s West Side with a single entrepreneurship class made up of 15 teenagers,

 » Read more about: Virtual Tour: Historic Building in the “Cradle of Rhythm and Blues” Reborn as an Incubator for BIPOC and Women Entrepreneurs  »

Recorrido de Fotos: Proveedores de educación infantil en Grand Rapids mejoran sus edificios a través del programa Learning Spaces

Click here to view the photo tour in English.

La educación preescolar e infantil de calidad es un componente clave en las comunidades fuertes. Establece una base para un crecimiento y desarrollo saludable que beneficia, entre otros, a familias y vecindarios en sus propias estructuras comunitarias. Sin embargo, investigaciones consistentemente demuestran que hay miles de niños en las comunidades de Michigan que carecen de acceso a educación infantil de calidad.

En la localidad de Grand Rapids, por ejemplo, un estudio de IFF de 2018 demostró que solo el 16% de los niños desde desde que nacen hasta que cumplen los dos años podían acceder a proveedores autorizados y registrados. Y aunque un análisis de 2020 reveló mejoramiento en algunas comunidades,

 » Read more about: Recorrido de Fotos: Proveedores de educación infantil en Grand Rapids mejoran sus edificios a través del programa Learning Spaces  »