U.S. Department of Treasury Awards $4.5 Million to Midwest's Top-Rated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) IFF

Aug 09, 2012, 11:51 ET from IFF

IFF Will Leverage Private Capital to Expand Lending to Organizations in Low-Income Areas

CHICAGO, Aug. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- IFF, one of the nation's leading community development financial institutions (CDFIs), has been awarded $4.5 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury to increase its lending to nonprofits and commercial businesses serving low-income communities, in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.  IFF received grants from both the Treasury Department's CDFI Fund ($1.5 million) and its Healthy Food Financing Initiative ($3.0 million). 

IFF leverages these funds with significantly greater amounts of private capital from the nation's largest banks -- including Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, and also receives investments from regional banks such as Northern Trust and BMO Harris, and community banks in all five states.

Through this 20-year-old risk-sharing model, IFF makes below-market loans to nonprofits and businesses addressing such essential community needs as health care, child care, education, affordable housing, healthy foods and energy efficiency.  

In an era of fiscal austerity and public-sector retrenchment, at all governmental levels, an approach that heavily utilizes private-sector resources, as does the IFF-CDFI model, may become all the more important. 

CDFI Fund Monies Will Help Catalyze Community Development in Underserved Areas 

"To our customers, what matters most in this process are more classrooms where children can learn, more health care facilities where families can get well and more affordable housing where those now lacking it can live," said IFF CEO Joe Neri.  "Another important benefit," Neri continued, "is that these new investments will create new jobs at a time when job creation is still badly stunted in these communities."

"We're very grateful to receive this CDFI Fund award, for we know how beneficial these funds can be, when combined with private resources, in spurring social and economic development in communities most needing it." 

HFFI: Healthier People for Healthier Communities

As it has before, IFF will use its Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) award to make loans to full-service grocery stores that locate in areas with a high need for access to healthy food choices – in Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and the Kansas City metro area.  IFF has established the Healthy Foods Access Investor Consortium for investors interested in participating in this risk-sharing opportunity.

A hallmark of IFF's grocery lending is a community engagement component through which grocers will become involved in helping change eating and shopping habits.  The HFFI is an interagency initiative involving the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The U.S Department of Agriculture has found that 23.5 million people live in communities that are more than one mile from a supermarket, and that these people often lack access to healthy, affordable food. 

"Limited access to healthy, nutritious foods can lead to diet-related diseases and obesity, and in too many low-income communities such access is far too limited," said IFF President Trinita Logue.  "IFF knows, from first-hand experience, that healthy communities require healthy people. The HFFI program can help engender both, and we're grateful and honored to be chosen again to participate."

IFF Praises Congressional Leaders for Support of CDFIs 

"We commend and thank those in Congress from our region who have shown great leadership in supporting continuing investments in CDFIs," said IFF's Neri.  "This bipartisan honor roll includes: Senator Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II( D-MO), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)." 

"These public leaders have exhibited a keen recognition that only through the harnessing of both public and private resources can we surmount America's social and economic challenges."

IFF Stands for Comprehensive Community Development

One of America's leading nonprofit community development financial institutions (CDFIs), IFF strengthens nonprofits and their communities through lending and real estate consulting that helps these organizations plan, finance, and build facilities that are critical to their success.  Founded in 1988, IFF has total assets of more than $215 million and serves nonprofits working with low-income communities and special needs populations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Midwest-wide, IFF's lending has leveraged over $1 billion dollars to invest in child care and primary health care centers, supportive housing, charter schools, shelters and affordable housing—helping to provide child care for over 4,617 children, a quality school facility for 23,180 students, 2,749 units of affordable housing, 174,884 health care visits and 46,677 jobs.

IFF's strong financial performance and wide-reaching community impact has earned it the highest rating from the CDFI Assessment and Rating System (CARS).  This makes IFF one of only four CDFIs nationwide – and the only one in the Midwest – to earn CARS' highest rating of "1" for Financial Strength and Performance; "AAA" for Impact Performance; and a "Policy Plus" for leadership in policy changes supporting disadvantaged people and communities. To learn more about IFF, visit www.iff.org.

CONTACT: Marc Brailov: 312-596-5124
Kate Maher: 312-521-7385