Stronger Nonprofits Initiative

IFF’s Stronger Nonprofits Initiative (SNI) aims to support nonprofits led by people of color in navigating systemic barriers to accessing capital and real estate opportunities by acknowledging disparities in lending and providing resources and tools to increase capacity and build connections to networks. Our 14-month curriculum includes online virtual training sessions focused on team-based nonprofit financial management, combined with peer learning, one-on-one financial coaching, customized real estate consulting, and special networking opportunities. To learn more about SNI, click below or keep scrolling:


About the Program

This program is offered through the Midwest, with cohorts based in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Each cohort is comprised of 3-4 leaders from each of 10 nonprofit organizations that attend all the workshops together and engage in peer learning.

  • Training & Peer Learning
    Weekly workshops covering topics such as core financial management, capital access, and real estate strategy. With no more than 10 nonprofits per group, these workshops are also designed to foster peer learning, networking, and ideas sharing.
  • Coaching & Consulting
    One-on-one coaching with financial and real estate professionals focuses on leadership development, facility planning, and long-term organizational change – tailored to address each organization’s specific needs.
  • Technical Assistance & Access to Capital
    Our facility reviews are a big boost for nonprofit leaders who may not have experience leading organizations through a relocation or renovation. And we offer affordable financing for facility projects.


SUMA KARAMAN ROSEN, InsideOut Literary Arts: “The fact that it’s geared towards nonprofit leaders of color in particular I think is very important in terms of creating a level of access that we may not already have and also creating a safe space where we can have ‘real talk’.”


KEITH STANLEY, Near West Side Partners: “The ability to connect with a program to help me sharpen up my skills, learn some industry best practices, understand how I can better my budget, better my actuals, better my reporting to the Board – any Executive Director of a nonprofit worth their salt will see the value in always sharpening their skills.”

CHRISTA HAMILTON, Centers for New Horizons: “Before, we were coming up with the budget within the finance department and then funneling it down to the program level. After working with our FMA coach, we start at the program level and feed that up into the budget. We sit with the program directors and hammer out the changing needs of the organization — for example, maybe we’re serving a new population and need an additional employment specialist. The team loves it.”

Why is financial management important for nonprofits?

Carving out the time to step back and strategize is a significant challenge for busy nonprofit leaders besieged with daily demands and unforeseen crises. And if they do find the time, there’s the issue of access — in particular for leaders of color serving communities of color. Implementing a strategy effectively often takes resources that may not be readily available: funding, expertise, and a deep network. That’s why SNI is so important. After completing the program, our hope is that nonprofits will have:

  • Increased financial capacity in the form of staff knowledge and skills, as well as systems and processes
  • Stronger budgeting practices that are inclusive, transparent, team-based, and multi-year
  • Financial resilience, which demands both access to capital to help manage change, as well as the ability to focus long-term while continually addressing current needs.

SNI Cohort Gallery

Click on the image below to open the gallery of photos of various SNI cohorts.

Applying to SNI

Applications are now closed. Please check back for future opportunities. If you have any questions, please contact us at gro.ffi@stiforpnonregnorts


Complete information is available on the application form, but the basic eligibility requirements are as follows: 

  • 501(c)(3) tax exempt status
  • Headquartered in Chicago, IL
  • 2-4 staff/Board members ready and willing to actively participate in a 14-month program, including:
    • Full-time, paid CEO/Executive Director. Ideally this person identifies as a person of color.
    • At least 1 other member of the leadership team participating in the program who identifies as a person of color

SNI Chicago, IL Schedule

The SNI program will include the following full-day Workshops and half-day Special Events, which will take place on Tuesdays: 

  • January 10: Program Orientation
  • January 17: Session 1
  • January 31: Role of Capital
  • February 14: Session 2
  • February 28: Funders Panel
  • March 14: Session 3
  • March 28: Role of Facilities 
  • April 4: Session 4
  • April 18: Diversifying Capital

Required Documents

As you are submitting your application, please have the following documents ready. You will be able to save your application and come back to complete it at any time. 

  • Organizational chart
  • Most recently completed audit or financial review
  • Current year budget
  • Most recent annual budget versus actuals (and projections through the end of the year, if available)

Previous & Upcoming Cohorts

We plan to offer city-based cohorts on the following rolling schedule: 

  • Chicago – October 2017 (completed)
  • Chicago – August 2018 (completed)
  • Detroit – October 2019 (completed)
  • Milwaukee – Fall 2020 (completed)
  • Detroit – Fall 2020 (completed)
  • St. Louis – Summer 2021 (completed)
  • Indianapolis – Fall 2021 (underway)
  • Kansas City, MO – Spring 2022 (underway)
  • Chicago – Winter 2023 (upcoming)
  • Chicago – Spring 2023 (upcoming)


About our language translation: We welcome participation across all communities, and we understand that many immigrant populations, while able to speak and listen in English, may still feel more comfortable reading and writing in their native language. That’s why we’re providing our webpage in Spanish.

We also want to be clear that all training sessions and other program activities, including any Q&A with our staff, will be offered exclusively in English, and program participants should be proficient in English reading, writing, and speaking.