Youth Outreach Services in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood keeps location with IFF help June 1, 2014

When renovations at Youth Outreach Services in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood came to a standstill, Executive Director Rick Velasquez faced some hard choices. YOS either could buy or lease new space, or spend funds on an environmental problem related to a now-vacant gas station next-door. Neither solution would have been easy on the nonprofit’s pocketbook.

That’s when Velasquez approached IFF to revitalize the project. YOS obtained a $596,000 loan from IFF as well as hired us to manage the project. The more spacious office has group rooms with dividers, new carpet, cameras to monitor the doors, and a computer lab with new equipment. Green improvements for YOS include a new reflective roof with additional insulation, high-efficiency HVAC units, and efficient light fixtures throughout the building.

“Being that we had a long history of work within the Austin community, we felt it was necessary for us to maintain this presence,” Velasquez said. “We have been in this building 25 years, and we’ve been working in Austin even longer than that.”

With IFF’s help, YOS was able to stay in its home and reopened February 2014 for the crucial business of caring for the area’s most vulnerable teens. Since 1959, the organization has helped nearly 300,000 youth find stable homes, stay in school, avoid substance abuse and gang involvement, and make better choices to improve their lives.

IFF’s funds for energy efficiency lending came from Bank of America’s Energy Efficiency Finance Program. IFF was one of only nine community development financial institutions with expertise in energy retrofits selected to share $55 million in low-cost capital to help reduce carbon emissions, lower utility costs, and create jobs.

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