February 25, 2020

IFF Investment Brings Positive Change to Communities

In November 2015, Portico selected IFF, a community development financial institution that serves low-income and special need communities in the Midwest, as its first social impact first (SIF) investment. Now, five years later, IFF continues to share the positive impacts this investment has helped make in multiple communities.

“This investment was chosen as it aligns well with the ELCA’s positive Community Economic Development Social Criteria Screen,” said Erin Ripperger, Portico’s senior socially responsible investment analyst. “IFF strives to help organizations that create opportunities for low-income communities and people with disabilities.”

2018 Impacts Created Through IFF

The returns a SIF investment provides to investors aren’t just financial; they also report back in quantitative and anecdotal ways the positive impacts their loans and leadership are making.

During 2018, IFF, through financing and support services, created the following positive impact in low-income communities:

Added 1,297 additional “student seats”

Added 459 child care slots

Enabled 19,360 new patient visits

Helped create or preserve 1,890 housing units

Financing to Address Social Factors in Communities

Like all Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), IFF is dedicated to offering financial funding and services for nonprofits and small business so they can, in turn, create opportunities for the people who need them most. Since their inception in 1988, IFF has financed more than $900 million in loans for projects in 10 states.

Highlights from some of IFF’s recent projects:

  • The Equitable Development Initiative which addresses the inequity of capital distributed to Detroit developers of color. It adapts the terms of existing loans to better fit the unique lending needs of these developers. It also provides a training and mentorship program for up to 20 minority real estate developers and selects one or two developer projects to support financially. In 2018, the program financed Ron Bartell’s “Live @ Liv,” a mixed-use residential and retail space along northwest Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion.
    Read More on the IFF CEO’s Blog
  • A joint venture with JPMorgan Chase called the Stronger Nonprofits Initiative which supports the highest-impact nonprofits in Chicago led by and/or deeply serving people of color. Specifically, it offers real estate consulting services to nonprofits in the early stages of acquiring or renovating a facility. Of 20 initial 2018 participants, 18 started the process of leasing, owning, renovating, or maintaining the buildings in which they’re based. The program has been such a success in Chicago that it expanded into Detroit in 2019, and into Milwaukee during 2020.
    Read More and Watch a Video on the IFF CEO’s Blog
  • IFF is one of many partners helping finance a 77,000-square-foot real estate project in a west Louisville neighborhood. Ten years in the making, this $33.5 million project has intentionally worked with area residents to develop a community center shaped around their needs. The building houses the YMCA, its gymnasium and pool, and a healthcare center and bank. It also hosts other social services and programming striving to support improvements in the community through the lens of health equity.
    Read More on IFF’s Website
  • IFF was lead developer for a new food business incubator called The Hatchery which provides a home for up to 100 start-ups. This 67,000-square-foot facility in the Garfield Park area of Chicago provides 56 food-grade kitchens, storage, loading docks, and training spaces. It is the first of its kind located outside of downtown Chicago. The Hatchery is expected to support up to 900 jobs over the next five years while connecting rising food entrepreneurs with industry leaders. Garfield Park residents are offered priority access to The Hatchery’s amenities, including discounted rates on space and free classes for job seekers and budding entrepreneurs.
    Read More on IFF’s Website

What is Social Impact First (SIF) investing?

To help achieve measurable social impact, seven of Portico’s eight social purpose funds — excluding the Social Purpose Stock Index Fund — employ a form of positive social investing we call “social impact first” (SIF) on up to 10% of ELCA Social Purpose fund assets. SIF investments accept a somewhat lower projected return and/or somewhat higher projected risk on up to 10% of the fund’s investments in order to invest in companies and organizations that support initiatives like affordable housing, reduced greenhouse emissions, and renewable energy.

“It’s been a Portico objective since 2015 to carefully and steadily increase the number of SIF investments made through our ELCA social purpose funds,” says Ripperger. “We make these investments to create solid financial returns for member investors and positive social outcomes important to the ELCA and members.”

Source: IFF 2018 Annual Report

Information regarding ELCA funds should not be considered as advice or as a recommendation to hold, purchase, or sell those financial products and does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. For more information about all 20 funds managed by Portico Benefit Services, please see the Investment Fund Descriptions for your retirement plan on the Fund Options & Performance page of myPortico and speak with your tax, legal, or financial professional.

Neither Portico Benefit Services nor the funds it manages are subject to registration, regulation, or reporting under the Investment Company Act of 1940, the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, or state securities laws. Members, therefore, will not be afforded the protections of those laws and related regulations.