In May, IFF closed loans totaling approximately $5.35 million for five community-driven projects in the Midwest. 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.
Charter Schools Development Corporation
IFF closed a $1.5 million loan for Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC) that facilitated the acquisition and renovation of two adjacent facilities totaling 22,534 square feet in Pagedale, MO, that will house The Leadership School (TLS). CSDC assists charter schools with turnkey facility development and financing needs, and IFF has previously partnered with the organization – also a CDFI – on charter school projects in Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota. In addition to the loan, IFF’s real estate team provided site search and predevelopment support for the project, which is located in a federal Promise Zone.
TLS is being developed in direct response to the findings of The Ferguson Commission, which was formed to identify community-driven steps that could be taken to advance racial equity in the St. Louis metro area following the death of Michael Brown during a police stop in 2014. Among the Commission’s recommendations were dramatic changes to schools in the area, including the Normandy School District in St. Louis County where Brown was a student and TLS will operate. TLS will open this fall as the first public charter school in Missouri outside of the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City, serving K-2 students initially and with plans to provide K-8 education to 450 students by 2028. TLS will lease the facility from CSDC with an option to purchase at any time. Learn more about TLS in this recent recap of an IFF-hosted panel discussion that featured the school’s founder, Kimberly Townsend.
IFF closed a loan of $550,000 for Plant Chicago that will enable the nonprofit to acquire and rehab the facility they currently lease, a 7,000-square-foot former firehouse in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago. Purchasing the facility is expected to result in thousands of dollars of cost savings for the nonprofit each year, which the organization will reinvest in programs and people. Founded in 2011, Plant Chicago’s mission is to cultivate local circular economies. The organization’s programming includes education, small business support, food access, and shared-use indoor farming.
Renovations will include decarbonizing the building, such as the installation of a solar array, energy efficiency upgrades, and HVAC systems that do not require gas. The renovations will allow Plant Chicago to increase their impact with their Indoor Victory Garden (a shared-use growing space for plants and fungi), marketplaces for local foods and goods, indoor and outdoor classrooms, a teaching kitchen, and community meeting/event space. The project is expected to support more than 40 construction jobs, two new and six existing permanent FTE jobs. Additional sources of funding and financing for the project include agency cash and Neighborhood Opportunity Fund equity.
Volunteers of America Michigan
IFF closed a $2.3 million loan for Volunteers of America Michigan (VOAMI) that provided the nonprofit with financing to acquire and renovate a 46,456-square-foot commercial building in Saginaw, MI. An affiliate of Volunteers of America, Inc., VOAMI focuses on promoting self-sufficiency among veterans and families who have experienced homelessness, chemical dependency, involvement with the justice system, and unemployment; and fostering health and independence for seniors and people with disabilities. Once the facility is renovated, VOAMI will open its sixth thrift store, which will provide an important source of revenue to support the organization’s programming in Saginaw. Planned renovations include interior build out for the sales floor, production area, and warehouse, as well as the demolition of select interior walls to foster an open retail space. The store, which will create 28 FTE jobs, is expected to open in September 2022.