IFF brings together a powerful combination of financial strength, real estate development expertise, sector knowledge, and research and evaluation capacity to accelerate positive social impact and systems change. Our Social Impact Accelerator coordinates and deploys these IFF tools to meet nonprofit sector needs and address place-based challenges throughout the Midwest.
IFF’s research and evaluation practice informs IFF’s strategic investments and produces actionable data for community partners – nonprofits, foundations, and municipalities. IFF also publishes place-based needs assessments, especially in the fields of early childhood and K-12 education. Many of our reports and interactive tools are available online. Example: Detroit K-12 Study
IFF serves as a turnkey developer to launch community-driven projects. This work bridges the gap between community need and traditional developers’ reach. IFF initiates financing, construction, and leasing of innovative community development projects that fill critical needs –for example, grocery stores in food deserts, business incubators in disinvested communities, and accessible housing for people with disabilities. Example: The Hatchery
IFF convenes community members and decision-makers to identify and recognize the root causes of systemic problems related to sectors that are vital to communities. By codifying and sharing the knowledge gathered, IFF supports community-driven efforts to create strong and equitable communities. Our goal is to advance data-informed solutions that ultimately improve the quality of life in Midwestern communities. Our work focuses on three core sectors:
- Early Childhood Education (ECE) – IFF’s very first loan was to a child care center in Chicago, and since then we have become leaders in creating high-quality early education spaces throughout the Midwest. Our needs assessments determine where there is the greatest need for quality early education services, and our finance and real estate solutions help create beautiful spaces for children to learn and grow in those communities. IFF also lends its voice to policy efforts and works collaboratively with stakeholders to implement systems change.
- K-12 Education – A vibrant school is at the heart of any thriving community. At IFF, we work across the education system – with school districts, charter school authorizers and operators, private schools, policymakers, and education advocates – to increase opportunity and improve outcomes for students. Coordinated and focused efforts allow IFF to strategize, develop, and implement programmatic responses that bring all of IFF’s expertise to bear in the educational landscape. Our needs assessments analyze access to quality education at the local and system levels. Informed by data, IFF helps plan, find, finance, and develop schools in the places where they’re needed most. Concurrently, IFF works to diffuse K-12 best practices across the Midwest and support systems planning.
- Universal Access – Individuals with disabilities, the elderly, the medically compromised, and others confront many barriers and obstacles. IFF’s work to support these communities began with Home First, a unique housing development initiative that enables people with disabilities to live independently in communities. Universal Access work leverages our housing experience to focus more holistically on this issue.
Comprehensive Place-Based Initiatives
IFF collaborates with communities to plan and implement comprehensive, equitable community development strategies. IFFs’ full range of services – financing, real estate consulting, development, research and evaluation, and convening capacity – are applied in an intensive, intentional, and deeply engaged approach driven by community engagement. Example: Homan Square
IFF is committed to recruiting, hiring, developing, and retaining a talented, diverse, multi-disciplinary, mission-driven staff of professional change-makers. An important pillar of this work is IFF’s dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are also committed to professional development and cross-functional problem-solving.