Celebrating 10 Years of Impact in Indiana and Doubling Down on Statewide Solutions March 22, 2023

In a Nutshell

What: In February 2023, IFF held a celebration of our 10th year championing nonprofits in Indiana at Paramount Cottage Home, a K-4 charter school opened with support from IFF’s real estate team. Bringing together more than 70 nonprofit leaders, funders, investors, government partners, and IFF staff for a program focused on the breadth of services IFF now provides statewide in Indiana, the event featured remarks from representatives of three diverse nonprofits that have partnered with IFF to strengthen their organizations and communities.
Location: Indiana

In 2012, IFF opened an office in Indianapolis, part of a Midwest expansion that solidified our commitment to catalyze community development across the region. Primarily providing real estate support to charter schools in Indianapolis initially, IFF soon began providing loans to help these schools realize their facility goals – laying the foundation for continued growth in the years ahead.

Today, IFF offers a broad range of tools for comprehensive community development that includes capital solutions and real estate consulting services not just in Indianapolis, but statewide, while also offering capacity-building programming to help nonprofits in Indianapolis led by people of color navigate structural barriers to growth through the JPMorgan Chase-funded Stronger Nonprofits Initiative (SNI). And, with a recent grant from Glick Philanthropies, SNI cohort members and other BIPOC-led nonprofits in Indiana will have access to additional capacity-building support.

While expanding the direct support we provide to nonprofits, IFF has also established key partnerships with local stakeholders in cities like Bloomington and South Bend, where we’re collaborating with city government and CDFI Friendly organizations to help nonprofits increase the energy efficiency of their facilities so more of their money can be devoted to mission.

The combined impact of this work through the end of 2022 created 580 early childhood education slots, 12,886 student seats in quality schools, 1,637 affordable homes, and facilitated 10,000 patient visits to health care facilities. Last month, we celebrated this first decade of impact in Indiana and doubled down on our commitment to provide more nonprofits statewide with the capital, real estate support, and programmatic offerings they need to grow and thrive at a celebration that brought together more than 70 IFF partners.

Held at the Cottage Home campus of Paramount Schools of Excellence, the event featured remarks from representatives of three diverse organizations that have worked with IFF in different ways. Below, we’ve included excerpts of their remarks. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see photos from the event.

Replicating an Innovative Educational Model Statewide 

When Paramount Schools of Excellence (PSOE) was launched in 2010, the charter school began with a single building in Indianapolis’ Brookside neighborhood. In the years since, PSOE has grown into an award-winning charter school network with three Indianapolis schools, an online academy, more than 1,400 students, and an ambitious plan for statewide expansion that calls for 10 schools in the network by 2031 – starting with two new schools opening this fall in South Bend and Lafayette.  

Helping PSOE realize its vision has been a long-term partnership with IFF that has included a $1.5 million loan and a $200,000 credit enhancement as part of a $7.7 million renovation of PSOE’s first school facility and various real estate services since 2016, including feasibility studies, market and demographic analyses, and pre-development support. 

“Our profit comes in so many other forms, from the connections we make to the students and the connections we make to the community, and in the spaces that we develop and grow.”

While academically rigorous, PSOE’s curriculum also emphasizes learning outside of the classroom through urban farming programs designed to provide holistic education to students. PSOE Farms Coordinator Chris Larson shared why this programming and the spaces that facilitate it are indispensable elements of what PSOE offers its students.  

“I run an urban farm at Paramount Cottage Home and at our Brookside campus, and we have a herd of dairy goats, we keep chickens, and we grow vegetables – all the while not focusing on any measure of profit in the sense of recovering money from what we do. Our profit comes in so many other forms, from the connections we make to the students and the connections we make to the community, and in the spaces that we develop and grow. 

We’re providing these opportunities for excitement among students that are unmatched. Without that, our school would be academically rigorous, and that’s wonderful and what the state expects. But I know as a parent myself and having friends and knowing people around me, we have higher expectations for our kids. And it’s wonderful to know that there are people and organizations like IFF who are willing to support programs like ours that push those boundaries to grow something special.”  

Bringing Quality Early Childhood Education Back to a Rural Community 

In February, Appleseed Childhood Education celebrated the opening of a new early childhood education (ECE) center – Appletree – that’s the first licensed ECE option for families in rural Rensselaer since 2018. Appleseed’s president, Adam Alson, shared why Appletree is a significant accomplishment for the community and how partnering with IFF provided the start-up nonprofit with the real estate and construction expertise and capital necessary to make Appletree a reality.   

“The creation of affordable child care seats in a rural area is a multifaceted, complex problem that requires the coordination of knowledge, expertise, and capital. Even before Appleseed was formed, the realization we faced was how to answer the question, ‘How do we fund an ECE center that will lose money?’  

I am not of the nonprofit space. I’m not of the child care space. And that was a really hard question to answer. I went down many rabbit holes to try to start figuring this out, and most of them led to nowhere. But one of these rabbit holes was looking up something called CDFIs, and that search led to IFF. It seemed like they might potentially be able to fund our project down the line, but I also found something called ‘real estate services’ on the IFF website. I knew we’d need a facility at some point if we wanted to have quality ECE in Rensselaer, and I didn’t know how we’d accomplish that. So, I submitted a form on the website and wasn’t expecting to ever hear anything.  

To my surprise, I soon received an email, and that email led to multiple conversations with Amandula Anderson. Soon, we had established a partnership and were working with IFF to sharpen our thoughts about what we would need from a building and what was available in Rensselaer. In late 2020, Franciscan Health reached out to gauge Appleseed’s interest in a building on their Rensselaer hospital campus. As we worked through this process, IFF was an invaluable partner in determining the viability of this opportunity, and, by early 2022, we were ready to execute a long-term, no-rent lease on the facility.  

“At every turn where we have needed something, whether it’s expertise, capital, a gentle ear, IFF has been there for us.”

IFF then held our hand and led us through a construction project that I personally was scared about every step of the way. Mostly I was scared about this project because we were undertaking a substantial renovation project at the exact time construction costs went through the roof. All our projections and funding targets were shot. Renovation estimates came in 50 percent higher than what we had been projecting for the previous two years. We had a decision to make…do we stop the momentum we had created and hope to raise the money through charitable means, or do we move forward?  

And at that moment, IFF gave us a lifeline to move forward. We executed a capital campaign bridge loan last October and the project moved forward. Renovations were completed in January, and Appleseed has cash flow flexibility to move forward and open Appletree. Appleseed is not where we are without IFF, and we would not be opening a 75-seat, high-quality early learning center in rural Rensselaer, Indiana. At every turn where we have needed something, whether it’s expertise, capital, a gentle ear, IFF has been there for us.” 

Participating in the Stronger Nonprofits Initiative Sets the Stage for a Program-Expanding Purchase  

Founded in 2003, Kheprw Institute works to create a more just, equitable, human-centered world by nurturing youth and young adults to be leaders, critical thinkers, and doers who see the people in any community as the most valuable assets. Through its programming, the organization is committed to working with community assets to bring about change that leads to empowered, self-reliant, and self-determining communities.  

“SNI was a really great classroom in managing resources for nonprofits, and it also set us up with consulting services through BDO FMA that helped us focus on a few resources we needed to look at [for financial management].”

In 2021, Kheprw Institute leaders joined the first Indianapolis cohort of the Stronger Nonprofits Initiative (SNI), gaining practical knowledge about nonprofit financial management and forming close relationships with other members of the cohort. Having worked for nearly two decades to address food insecurity, Kheprw Institute took learnings from SNI and applied them last summer to the organization’s purchase of a farm south of downtown Indianapolis that will serve as the hub for the organization’s food programs. Envisioned as a self-sustaining urban community built by and for its residents, Octavia’s Visionary Campus will include a marketplace, a gathering area with a test kitchen, a greenhouse, three residential properties, and 17 acres of farmland. IFF provided a $210,000 loan for the acquisition, and Kheprw Institute is now raising the funds needed to bring its vision for the property to life.  

Reflecting on his organization’s experience in SNI, Kheprw Institute Executive Director and Co-founder Imhotep Adisa shared the following.    

“SNI was a really great classroom in managing resources for nonprofits, and it also set us up with consulting services through BDO FMA that helped us focus on a few resources we needed to look at [for financial management]. The training and learning from that was a real asset, but even more critical were the relationships we built, which have helped us on our journey. We learned how to use financing to acquire our property for Octavia’s Visionary Campus, and through that dance, how to utilize it in a way to support our efforts to build community.” 

Read about additional nonprofits supported by IFF in Indiana

Photo Gallery: IFF’s Indiana Ten-Year Celebration

Click the images below to see photos from the celebration of IFF’s tenth anniversary in Indiana, held February 9, 2023, at Paramount Cottage Home.