Press Release: Stronger Nonprofits Initiative Launches Fourth Chicago Cohort, Addressing Barriers Leaders of Color Face in Accessing Resources July 19, 2023

IFF program aims to provide nonprofits led by people of color the resources necessary to empower decision making and navigate barriers to accessing capital and real estate opportunity

Chicago, IL (July 19, 2023)IFF, a nationally recognized mission-driven lender, developer, and real-estate consultant for Midwest nonprofits, is excited to announce the fourth Chicago cohort of the Stronger Nonprofits Initiative (SNI), following a five-year expansion throughout the Midwest. SNI is a free program providing nonprofit leaders of color with greater access to financial management tools and real estate planning resources. The latest cohort is comprised of 10 Chicago-based nonprofits that will participate in a 14-month curriculum, presented by IFF and BDO and funded by JPMorgan Chase.

“As we embark on the fourth Chicago cohort for SNI, on the heels of our five-year anniversary celebration, it is increasingly important that we continue to support nonprofit leaders of color by acknowledging their experiences and prioritizing support and resources to accessing capital and real estate services,” said Vickie Lakes-Battle, IFF’s executive director for the Chicago Metro Region. “While the impact SNI has had in its first five years is monumental, as a leader of color myself, I’m thrilled that we are able to support another group of organizations in furthering their impact across Chicago.”

IFF first launched SNI in 2017 in Chicago, and has since expanded the program to Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. In March 2023, the program celebrated its five-year anniversary with program participants, partners, and funders at an event that explored the ongoing structural barriers leaders of color face and the need to improve access to capital and real estate resources.

“SNI is not only an investment in nonprofit leaders of color, it’s an investment in neighborhood revitalization and community-driven development,” said Kenya Merritt, Chicago’s Deputy Mayor of Business and Neighborhood Development. “We applaud IFF and its supporters for helping to equip Chicago’s nonprofit community with the critical tools they need to help transform our neighborhoods.”

To date, eighty-eight nonprofits have participated in the program, strengthening their organizations and deepening their impact in the communities they serve. The program’s fourth Chicago, IL cohort includes: Association House Chicago, Center for Changing Lives, Corazón Community Services, Indo-American Center, Latin United Community Housing Association, MYSI Corporation, Oak Park Regional Housing Center, Project Hood Communities Development Corp., Taskforce Prevention and Community Services, and Woodlawn Restorative Justice Hub. These 10 organizations will partake in a comprehensive curriculum including: training sessions focused on team-based fiscal management, one-on-one financial coaching, customized real estate consulting, expert panel discussions, special networking opportunities, and other events.

“Inclusivity and equality is central to everything we do, which is why we proudly support the Stronger Nonprofits Initiative and its progress in diminishing the barriers leaders of color face,” said Damion Heron, Executive Director, Community Engagement for JPMorgan Chase. “We’re inspired to see another impressive cohort of leaders. Chicago is a city rich in diverse talent and SNI helps it flourish, creating a more equitable and inclusive nonprofit landscape.”

To read more about SNI’s impact in its first five years, including stories from participants, click here. For more information on SNI, visit


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