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St. Louis Nonprofits Improving Low-Income Communities with Help From CDFI Leader IFF

Disabled Adults, Abused Women Among Beneficiaries

ST. LOUIS, Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  St. Louis nonprofits serving some of the city's most needy communities are realizing significant benefits resulting from affordable financing from nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) leader IFF.  Assistance League St. Louis is expanding programs, serving more low-income students and battered women; and Project, Inc. has been able to protect the employment of disabled adults, who might otherwise be unemployed, while saving taxpayers money.

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IFF, which began its St. Louis operations in 2007 and was certified by the U.S. Treasury as a CDFI in 1996, uses some government grants and tax credits to leverage substantially greater private resources to provide facilities loans and related services at below-market rates to organizations serving low-income communities.  These organizations are addressing such essential community needs as education, healthcare, housing, child care and access to healthy food.  Here are two of IFF's most significant St. Louis accomplishments to date:   

IFF loan to Assistance League St. Louis Allows for Expanded Services for Low Income Families

Assistance League St. Louis is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a fixture in the community supporting low-income families through innovative programs.  An IFF loan of $750,000 allowed Assistance League St. Louis to purchase their own expanded facility and attract new volunteers. More fundamental to Assistance League's mission, the loan helped increase by 30 percent the number of low-income students it serves through Operation School Bell™– an innovative program that provides uniforms and other clothes.  

Additionally, lower debt payments freed precious resources to reach more people in the community through such other unique programs as Project ROSE (Raise Our Self Esteem), which provides abused women with essentials upon their arrival at a shelter and Steps to Success, which equips needy children with athletic shoes. 

All these programs provide tangible benefits for those most in need, but perhaps just as importantly, they boost the self confidence of children, who now have a new pair of shoes for school, or women, who can feel closer to normal with needed personal items and clothing after fleeing domestic abuse.

Sandra Johnson, President of Assistance League St. Louis said of IFF's help, "We now have more money to spend on programs and not on rent.  That has allowed us to serve more children, add 57 new volunteers and for the first time, we are forming a program expansion committee to address new needs in the community."

IFF Loan to Project, Inc. allows DeCycleIt! Program to Employ Disabled Adults and Reduce Dependence on the State

Project, Inc.'s idea to employ disabled adults for secure document destruction (SDD) through its DeCycleIt! program is recognized by IFF for its enterprising business model and commitment to a vulnerable population.

DeCycleIt!, a member of the National Secure Document Alliance (SDA), is the only nonprofit SDD in the St. Louis area among 38 competitors. Its mission to employ developmentally disabled adults – a highly unemployed segment of the population—has a twofold effect on the community: it increases the self respect and quality of life of the individuals involved while reducing the strain on the city and state's social services.  For every ten employees, Project Inc. hires, it saves Missouri taxpayers $225,000 a year.  The economic multiplier effect of the 123 disabled individuals currently employed by Project Inc. and its DeCycleIt! program is thus substantial. 

An IFF low-interest rate loan of $200,000 to Project Inc. allowed it to expand its business operations to include secure document destruction through the DeCycleIt! program and protect the employment of eight disabled individuals who were vulnerable to cutbacks in the down market.  "Other commercial banks didn't see it as attractive because other banks don't understand nonprofits.  IFF understood and had a great eye for this stuff," said Matt Burridge. He praised IFF's dedication to identifying and supporting organizations such as Project Inc. and its DeCycleIt! program – which, through their help of individuals, engenders broader societal benefits.

These loans are part of $66-million IFF has invested directly in 68 Missouri nonprofits through over 108 loans since 2006.

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 $235 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 26,422 students, 3,262 units of affordable housing, 174,884 health care visits and 48,114 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.

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


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