“Our current students have a very social justice-oriented mind,” said Dave Hogaboom, a board member of Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights, IL. “Giving back to the community, taking care of people – these are things that students and alumni do with a sense of pride. For us, education and service go hand-in-hand. That’s just part of our identity as Viatorians.”
That mission-oriented mindset led the Saint Viator’s board to invest a portion of its endowment into IFF. A 2016 investment of $150,000 was recently doubled to $300,000 in 2018.
“IFF just makes good sense for us. It gives us a way to do something bigger, something good with our money. And at the same time, we don’t miss a beat in getting the return we need for the endowment,” said Hogaboom.
The school’s endowment is used for student tuition assistance and faculty enhancements. As stewards of that money, the board invests it through an asset manager. According to Hogaboom, they were not specifically seeking out a socially responsible investment opportunity as part of their portfolio before they “ran across” IFF at a conference of faith-based investors.
IFF CFO Suzanne Leao-Reuter says: “As a mission-driven financial institution, IFF attracts many socially responsible investors. But in recent years, more and more of those investors are coming from faith-based groups – convents, religious orders, religious schools. Ultimately, it’s about investing with the dual purposes of making a return and creating a positive social impact.”
This double-bottom-line approach to investment comes with many labels: socially responsible investment (SRI), impact investing, community investing, mission-driven investing, values-based investing, sustainable investing, etc.
Since 2001, faith-based institutions have invested $33.9 million in IFF, which IFF uses to make affordable loans to nonprofits throughout the Midwest. In the last three years since Saint Viator’s invested in IFF, IFF has provided more than $119 million in financing to 85 nonprofits in Illinois alone. Throughout the Midwest region, IFF’s total investment between 2016-2018 is more than $325 million to 243 nonprofits.
IFF’s nonprofit clients span 10 states and many sectors – affordable housing, arts and culture, community development, early childhood education, health care, healthy foods, job training, special needs services, substance abuse, supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, youth services, and many multi-purpose human service agencies.
Here are a few examples of recent IFF loans:
- Asian Human Services: During the 1970s, refugees from the Vietnam War and immigrants from other parts of Southeast Asia were flooding into Chicago. Asian Human Services was established to help them transition into American life, and since then it has become a landmark institution in Chicago. IFF and AHS have partnered on several projects since 2002, leveraging a total of $3.3 million in IFF financing to build-out a top-rated K-8 charter school, a federally qualified health clinic, and a tutoring facility. In 2017, a $150,000 loan supported the rehab of AHS’s headquarters on Broadway Street. Today the organization helps tens of thousands of people from more than 50 countries and in more than 30 languages each year.
- Enlace Chicago: This community development group serving Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood has grown its staff from just five people in 2001 to more than 100 people today. But as its personnel grew, its physical space remained the same – leaving staff scrambling for private meeting places in homes, schools, and partner agencies. That all changed in 2017, when the agency broke ground on a new 5,000-square-foot space. IFF provided a $500,000 loan toward the project, and IFF’s real estate team also helped locate and plan the site. Learn more.
- Lakeview Pantry: Lakeview Pantry operated from a 970-square-foot boiler room for 22 years. Within these modest confines, the organization grew into one of the busiest food pantries in Chicago. The increased demand put incredible stress on the tight space and forced clients to wait in long lines. Since then, Lakeview Pantry has worked with IFF twice to move into larger, more visible storefronts. With the help of an $800,000 loan from IFF, Lakeview Pantry most recently purchased and rehabbed a 7,500-square-foot storefront that allows the organization to expand its service territory, increase its food distribution, and enhance its supportive social service programming. What’s more, the beautiful new space received the Richard H. Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence in 2017 and combats the stigma associated with receiving food assistance.
“We feel we’re blessed at Saint Viator’s for the way our kids are educated and the way our community comes together to support others,” Hogaboom said. “Investing in IFF is a great opportunity for us to give back through the nonprofits that are helping people and communities.”