GHACF invests $1.5M to provide low-cost loans to community nonprofits

A new source of funding will provide access to capital to Grand Haven area nonprofits, thanks to an investment by the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

The GHACF board recently approved a $1.5 million investment in IFF (formerly Illinois Facilities Fund), one of the highest-rated community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in the country. 

The five-year investment is to be used within West Michigan, with a particular emphasis on Northwest Ottawa County, to fund loans in the GHACF’s target communities.  

“IFF’s history and impact in local communities are impressive,” says Hadley Streng, president of the GHACF. “Their expansion into West Michigan means great things for our community, not only because they work in partnership with our local organizations, but because we are investing directly into our community. This type of investment creates sustainable, positive social change, and we hope to support more projects like this in the future.”  

Complement to current activity

This investment will complement the foundation’s current investment policy, programs, and grant-making activities, and establish a process for the expanded investment and development of resources in the community. In 2020, the GHACF made a similar investment with Michigan Community Capital, which has since moved forward with an affordable housing development on Comstock Street in Grand Haven. Both investments keep the money within this region.  

IFF is a mission-driven lender, developer, researcher, and real estate consultant serving nonprofits and communities in the Midwest. The investment will be used to provide low-cost loans to nonprofits for the acquisition and renovation of facilities that allow them to achieve their missions.  

IFF’s top focus areas are affordable housing, schools, and health care. IFF has been operating in Michigan for 6½ years and has begun expanding into the West Michigan region with plans to open a satellite office in the Grand Rapids area. In Ottawa County specifically, IFF would look to grow relationships with investors and community influencers.  

Creating opportunities

IFF’s mission to help communities thrive by creating opportunities for low-income districts and people with disabilities. They help clients from every sector, including human service agencies, health centers, schools, housing developers, and grocery stores. 

Legally, IFF is classified as a CDFI, created under the Community Reinvestment Act, a law passed in 1977 intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. IFF is the largest nonprofit CDFI in the Midwest and one of only five nationally to hold the top-ranked Aeris four-star rating for impact management and AAA rating for financial strength and performance. Since 1988, it has made more than $1 billion in loans, leveraging $3 billion in community investment.
“Capital is a critical resource that often seems just outside the reach of low-income communities. At IFF, we work hard to change that,” says Chris Uhl, IFF’s executive director for the Eastern Region, which includes Michigan and Ohio. “We work side-by-side with nonprofits to not only provide access to capital, but also access to tools and information that build their long-term financial well-being. GHACF’s investment into IFF has been critical to our decision to establish an office in Grand Rapids and scale our services in West Michigan.” 

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.

Shandra Martinez is the managing editor of The Lakeshore WM.
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