March 2023 Loan Round-up April 1, 2023

In March, IFF closed loans totaling approximately $16.8 million for 11 community-driven projects in the Midwest, in addition to providing a credit enhancement to a charter school. We’ve included information below about several of the loans and what the organizations that received them are doing with the capital. To learn more about IFF’s lending, visit our Capital Solutions page.

Celadon-Collinsville GP, LLC

IFF closed a $2.5 million loan for the redevelopment of Collinsville High School, which is being developed by Celadon Partners. This loan provides financing for the acquisition of the school in Collinsville, IL, which will be converted into affordable rental housing, as well as capital for preconstruction activities. The nearly nine-acre property contains two buildings, one of which will contain 10 one-bedroom units, 34 two-bedroom units, and 10 three-bedroom units, all of which will be affordable to families earning less than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI). The second building on the property will be converted into a YMCA after the current tenant’s lease ends, where residents will have free access to the athletic facilities. Expected sources of funding and financing for the project include 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs), state and federal historic tax credits, state donation tax credits, HOME funds via Madison County and developer equity, among others. IFF previously provided a loan to Celadon Partners in April 2022 for another affordable housing project.

Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation

IFF closed a loan of approximately $2.86 million that enabled Central Ohio Community Improvement Corporation (COCIC) to acquire the historic Edna Building in Columbus, OH, and to move forward with renovations to the 8,694-square-foot facility. Located in the city’s King-Lincoln neighborhood and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Edna was once the home of a pioneering insurance company that catered to Black residents who moved to the area during the Great Migration, later served as the home of an influential, Black-owned newspaper, and housed a social club that provided Black residents with a place to congregate free of discrimination. Once the project is completed, the facility will be used to house offices for COCIC and several other community-based organizations – taking the current abandoned building and revitalizing it so that it once again serves as a community asset.


IFF closed a $422,000 loan for Clearbrook that will reimburse the nonprofit for a cash purchase it completed for a single-family home in Mount Prospect, IL, that will be operated as a Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA). Clearbrook was founded in the 1950s by parents in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago in response to the unmet educational needs of their disabled children, and today serves more than 8,000 children and adults annually across 160+ communities in the Chicago area. The home in Mount Prospect will provide housing for three residents, who will also receive clinical support services from the nonprofit. The project has also created four new jobs for staff who will support the home’s residents. A longtime IFF customer, Clearbrook has received 11 additional loans from IFF since 2014 to support the organization’s growth.

Elgin Math and Science Academy

Since 2005, IFF has been a grantee in the U.S. Department of Education’s Credit Enhancement program, which awards funding to organizations to address the cost of acquiring, constructing, and renovating facilities by enhancing the availability of loans and bond financing. IFF typically deploys its credit enhancement to charter schools seeking capital from the bond market and commercial banks to drive down their interest rates, provide debt service reserve funds, and make it easier and more affordable for charter schools to borrow capital.

In March, IFF provided a $1.4 million credit enhancement to Elgin Math and Science Academy (EMSA) that the K-8 charter school located in Elgin, IL, used to fund a 10 percent debt service reserve on a new $15.5 million bond financing. The bond will refinance a previous loan and credit enhancement provided to the school by IFF and fund a gut rehabilitation of a vacant, 10,500-square-foot administration building that will be converted to middle school classrooms, a science laboratory, and program and office space – thus increasing the school’s enrollment by 104 students. An 18-month interest reserve, transactional costs, and a property replacement reserve are also bond financed. The school opened with 208 students in grades K-3 and has added one grade with 52 students each year since 2018 while continuing to increase the size of its waitlist despite strong enrollment headwinds presented by the pandemic.

EMSA purchased the former Fox River Country Day School campus for $1 from the City of Elgin in 2021 after leasing the property for three years. IFF has provided a series of loans to the school since it opened on the 19-acre campus to renovate and remediate facilities located on the site, with support provided by IFF’s real estate team. The campus – which is adjacent to a forest preserve that EMSA incorporates in its curriculum – has been used for education for more than a century, but EMSA is the first school on the site to offer free, public education. The administration building that is being renovated with bond proceeds is historically significant, having been designed in 1928 by noted Prairie School architect John Van Bergen. EMSA’s rehab of the building is in keeping with its historic character, with Wheeler Kearns Architects serving as the design team for the project.

For more information about IFF’s USDOE Credit Enhancement program for charter schools, please contact IFF’s Capital Solutions team.

Firebird Community Arts

IFF closed a $150,000 loan that provided Firebird Community Arts (Firebird) with a line of credit through the MacArthur Arts and Culture Loan Fund. Based in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood, the nonprofit offers arts instruction to residents of the city’s west and south sides at its ceramics and glass blowing studio (featured in the photo at the top of the page). Firebird focuses on using art as a tool for healing and trauma recovery and partners with schools, hospitals, medical centers, and social service centers throughout Chicago to offer therapeutic artmaking, mentoring, trauma support, and employment. After steady growth in recent years, the organization is working toward the purchase of a new facility, and the line of credit will help support predevelopment activities associated with a property acquisition.

Living in Victory Sober Living

IFF closed a loan of approximately $516,000 for Living in Victory Sober Living (LIV) that provided the nonprofit with the capital needed to purchase a multi-family property in St. Louis, MO, that the community-based organization previously leased that serves as a rehabilitation facility where clients can safely continue their journeys in sobriety. Established in 2019, LIV offers a recovery housing program, a respite home program, and outpatient services for clients seeking to end chemical dependencies. The facility purchased by the organization will support its respite program, which is an intensive, 30-day program meant to help clients in the early stages of recovery transition to recovery housing or other safe housing options while receiving outpatient treatment. By transitioning from lease payments to mortgage payments, LIV will save approximately $43,000 per year and build equity in the property, while reinvesting money into programming.

Muskegon Maritime Academy

IFF closed two loans totaling $945,000 for Muskegon Maritime Academy (MMA) that provided the K-5 charter school in Muskegon, MI, with the capital needed for renovations to its 62,300-square-foot facility and with working capital as the start-up school grows its enrollment. Founded with a commitment to raise low math and literacy rates in the city, MMA emphasizes reading and STEM-based instruction that’s paired with water education and youth leadership development programming offered through a partnership with the United States Naval Sea Cadets Corps. Renovations to the facility – which previously housed a public elementary school and was sold to MMA for $1 – included updates to the gymnasium, kitchen, auditorium, and classrooms, in addition to extensive repairs to the roof. MMA opened to 125 students in Fall 2022 and intends to grow enrollment to as many as 300 students in the coming years.

Supermart El Torito

IFF closed a loan of approximately $288,000 for Supermart El Torito (El Torito) that refinanced a prior loan IFF provided to the S-corporation, which operates two full-service grocery stores – in Kansas City, KS, and Topeka, KS – that provide access to fresh and authentic Mexican food groceries in their respective communities, as well as Mexican bakeries, butcher shops, and restaurants at both locations. El Torito’s first location in Kansas City, KS, was opened in 2006. IFF’s prior loan enabled El Torito to expand to its second location in Topeka, KS, and refinancing the loan that had reached maturity will provide El Torito with additional financial flexibility moving forward.

Teachers Like Me

IFF closed a $250,000 loan for Teachers Like Me that provided the nonprofit with capital for the purchase of a single-family residence in the Blue Hills neighborhood of Kansas City, MO, and for minor renovations to the property. The 1,650-square-foot home includes four bedrooms and three bathrooms for teacher and student housing. Formed in 2020, Teachers Like Me is dedicated to recruiting, developing, and retaining quality Black teachers in public education systems in the Kansas City area, and the organization is offering affordable housing to income-qualified educators at the home it purchased. Each bedroom will be rented for ~$400 per month, providing affordable housing to up to nine tenants. In addition to housing support, the nonprofit provides teachers with signing and retention bonuses, relocation expenses, mentoring, scholarships, job placement, and professional development to college graduates from partner universities and to students seeking a degree in education.

DL3 Realty

IFF closed a $2.19 million loan for DL3 Realty that provided the developer with construction and permanent financing for its Thrive Englewood project. Thrive Englewood is MBE-owned DL3 Realty’s first Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing project as lead developer. With MBE-owned BOWA Construction as the general contractor, Thrive Englewood is also the first time an MBE developer and MBE general contractor have come together in Chicago to execute a LIHTC housing deal.

Thrive Englewood will create 62 units of mixed-income affordable housing in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. In total, the INVEST South/West-supported project will create more than 100 workforce apartments and live-work units adjacent to DL3’s Englewood Square Shopping Mall, on a vacant lot formerly owned by the city. Intended as a hub for working families, the six-story building will include a fitness room, multiple community rooms, tenant storage, enclosed bike parking, and easy access to public transportation. On the ground floor of the building will be two live-work lofts for entrepreneurs plus approximately 2,300 square feet of retail space will be leased to local small businesses. Additional sources of funding and financing for the project include 9% LIHTCs syndicated by Enterprise Community Investments, City of Chicago HOME, STSC Funds and a TIF loan, a ComEd grant, and a construction and equity bridge loan from Fifth Third Bank. Thrive Englewood will be the first new construction multi-family housing built in Englewood in more than 50 years.

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