Clockwise: Chris Jensen, Google News Initiative; Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, National Trust for Local News; Sam Marks, FJC; and Lillian Ruiz, National Trust for Local News.

Google News Initiative Celebrates Milestone for Local Ownership of Local News

Key practitioners forming a new model of community media ownership reflected on a critical milestone: the acquisition of 24 local newspapers in Colorado by the National Trust for Local News (NTLN).  Staff from NTLN and its financing partner FJC discussed the origins of this unique partnership during a breakout session at the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference, which was hosted and sponsored by The Google News Initiative.  [VIDEO]

The acquisition of Colorado Community Media (CCM) represents a first-of-its-kind partnership to preserve local mission-focused community ownership. The Colorado News Conservancy, a public benefit corporation jointly owned and operated by NTLN and The Colorado Sun, acquired CCM, an independent, family-owned group of 24 community newspapers and websites.  The acquisition was financed with a $1.5 million loan from FJC, alongside a coalition of local and national impact investors. 

Chris Jansen, the Head of Local News, Global Partnerships at Google, framed the conversation, describing this acquisition as “unlocking a new path forward for acquiring—and financing transformation of—local newspapers, and bringing in both local and national funders.”  He said that the innovative partnership attracted the interest of the Google News Initiative, which aims to help journalism thrive in the digital age and is a seed funder of NTLN. 

“Patient mission-aligned capital is necessary for these organizations.  When we’re talking about community media, it’s completely necessary.”

Lillian Ruiz, Co-Founder & Managing Director for Portolio, The National Trust For Local News

Asked about the origins of NTLN, co-founder Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro said that she and her co-founders intended to create an organization that was “like a nature conservancy for local media.”  The media landscape has evolved rapidly in recent decades, putting strain on traditional news business models.  She noted that public broadcasting companies had benefited from a combination of pooled investment along with technical assistance, and NTLN was formed to provide a similar series of supports to preserve trusted local news titles.  The acquisition of CCM is a model that NTLN intends to replicate across multiple markets across the United States.

Lillian Ruiz, NTLN co-founder and Managing Director for Portfolio, described how local newspapers can benefit from increased operational and business discipline. “From our expertise, partnerships and relationships, we can elevate the operational soundness, the efficiencies in how local newspapers look at innovation and revenue experimentation, and give [local newspapers] the headroom to get there. That’s where we see our opportunity and impact.”   She also noted the role of impact investment in the model.  “Patient mission-aligned capital is necessary for these organizations.  When we’re talking about community media, it’s completely necessary.” 

“Philanthropy and the nonprofit sector working together can figure out governance and financing [approaches] to make something that works for the public interest.”  

Sam Marks, Chief Executive Officer, FJC

Sam Marks, Chief Executive Officer of FJC, noted the underwriting challenges in financing the acquisition, since NTLN was a start-up nonprofit without significant assets to provide collateral for the loan.  FJC was able to get comfortable making the loan because three funders provided guarantees: The Colorado Trust, Gates Family Foundation, and American Journalism Project.  Mr. Marks noted the replicability of this approach to other new mission-based industries.  “Private foundations typically spend down around 5% of their assets per year on grants; the rest of their balance sheet could theoretically be put to work as guarantees for innovative structures like this, where it’s something new and impactful but the actors don’t have the balance sheets to stand it up.”

Mr. Marks noted that many local newspapers are being acquired by private equity firms whose profit motivations can run counter to the mission of having a thriving, well-resourced, independent press. “Philanthropy and the nonprofit sector working together can figure out governance and financing [approaches] to make something that works for the public interest.”  

A video of the webinar can be found at this link.

As Homeless Shelter Prepares for Renovation, A Timely Loan Bridges a Critical Service Gap

Crown Heights, Brooklyn—A $2.5 million bridge loan from FJC will ensure the continuity of services at the St. John’s Place Family Center, a 97-unit Tier II shelter for homeless families, as the nonprofit owner embarks on City-financed major renovations.  The project is a collaboration between Urban Resource Institute (URI) and Settlement Housing Fund.

The loan was necessary to bridge a timing and cash flow gap between when URI was to take over providing services to the families at the shelter, and the formal registration and execution of a contract from the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which will enable payment for the services.  “If we hadn’t figured this out, it would have been incredibly disruptive to the families at the shelter,” explains Alexa Sewell, President of Settlement Housing Fund, which had owned and operated the site since the 1990s.  Without the cash flow necessary to maintain continuity of services, St. John’s Place would have had to close down and move 97 families elsewhere, reducing the number of temporary apartments available during a time when homelessness remains at staggering levels in New York City.  With the loan in place, URI can continue running the shelter without interruption as the organization waits for city payments to begin.

“St. Johns offers us the opportunity to impact even more adults and children, and the continuity provided by the financial arrangement allows us to do so without adding to the trauma of the families in residence.”

Nathaniel M. Fields, Chief Executive Officer, Urban Resource Institute

Approved and closed within 8 weeks of initial application submission, the loan required both speed and creativity from all parties.  While URI as the service provider needed to borrow the funds, it was the property owner, Settlement Housing Fund, that posted collateral.  This unique risk-sharing arrangement between the two nonprofits helped the FJC’s credit committee get comfortable approving the loan.

Settlement Housing Fund has owned the three buildings that comprise St John’s Place since the late 1990s.  The organization has operated the buildings as a Tier II shelter over these decades.  As part of its recent strategic planning process, Settlement Housing Fund’s leadership determined that the shelter would be best run by a specialized and scaled homeless services organization.  Settlement Housing Fund identified URI as their partner, a $98.3 million organization founded in 1980s that is now the nation’s largest provider of domestic violence shelter and services and a leading provider of shelter and programs for homeless families. URI shelters across New York City can accommodate some 2,200 adults and children every night, and innovative programs for prevention, intervention and direct services for domestic violence and homelessness reach 40,000 people a year.

“URI is committed to transforming the lives of vulnerable populations across New York City with comprehensive programs and services as well as shelter,” stated URI CEO Nathaniel M. Fields.  “St. Johns offers us the opportunity to impact even more adults and children, and the continuity provided by the financial arrangement allows us to do so without adding to the trauma of the families in residence.”

The St John’s Place Family Shelter represents one of the first capital rehabilitation project under the Purpose Built Shelter program of the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS). The goal of the city program is to provide capital resources and long-term contracts to enable nonprofits to own and operate Tier II shelters, which provide temporary housing to families while they seek affordable permanent housing solutions.

Discussing innovative and responsive uses of DAFs on the EPCNYC webinar: Mark Cohen (FJC), Sam Marks (FJC), Dolores Kordon (Brighter Tomorrows), Hank Snyder (JP Morgan, moderator), and Annie Polland (The Tenement Museum)

Innovative, Revolving Uses of DAFs Featured in Webinar

Leaders of two nonprofit organizations whose urgent financial needs were met by innovative FJC donors were featured on a webinar hosted by the Estate Planning Council of NYC (EPCNYC), titled “Multiplying your Impact: Innovative Approaches to Revolving Philanthropic Dollars”.  The nonprofit Executive Directors, Annie Polland of The Tenement Museum and Dolores Kordon of Brighter Tomorrows, were joined by members of FJC’s leadership, CEO Sam Marks and Chief Legal Officer Mark Cohen, who described the foundation’s role executing the transactions.  The event was moderated by Henry Snyder, Executive Director of JP Morgan’s Private Bank, and a member of EPCNYC.

While most holders of Donor Advised Fund (DAF) accounts use their philanthropic funds for grants, the webinar highlighted cases where donors identified financing gaps in the organizations that could be addressed with solutions that combined philanthropic intent with investment strategies.

“We’re trying to inspire more of our donors to approach philanthropy in this way, and bring new donors that are inspired by examples like these.”

Sam Marks, Chief Executive Officer, FJC

In the case of Brighter Tomorrows, a domestic violence nonprofit serving women and families on Long Island, the donor was solving for a cash flow problem.  As Ms. Kordon explained, the majority of the organization’s work is funded with government contracts.  These contracts, typically administered through the state or county, are notoriously slow to pay even during normal times and are typically paid on a reimbursement basis.  During the pandemic, when the needs of clients for shelter, food, and emergency assistance were at an all-time high, the public agency offices administering payments on the contracts were also facing major capacity issues.  “Payments slowed to a snail’s pace,” Ms. Kordon lamented. “With the pandemic came all sorts of additional emergency costs, and we had to still keep the lights on and pay rent.”

Enter Sandy Wheeler, one of Brighter Tomorrows’ most steadfast donors.  Ms. Wheeler worked with FJC to deploy $100,000 in her DAF account as a 0% interest revolving line of credit.  This cash resource allowed Brighter Tomorrows to continue meeting the urgent needs of clients, even in the face of slower contract payments.  In the year since the loan was closed, the funds have been fully drawn, repaid, and drawn again. “I can’t say enough about the importance of having a donor provide this resource,” says Ms. Kordon. “It was a godsend for us.” 

“I can’t say enough about the importance of having a donor provide this resource. It was a godsend for us.”

Dolores Kordon, Executive Director, Brighter Tomorrows

FJC facilitated a more complex transaction with The Tenement Museum, a vital organization that has been researching and telling the stories of immigrant New Yorkers for the past 25 years. In the early days of the pandemic, the organization faced significant financial distress, as documented in an New York Times article, “A Museum Devoted to Survivors Faces Its Own Fight for Survival” (April 24, 2020). The article noted that 75% of the museum’s revenue came from earned income, reflecting admissions and gift shop revenue of its 285,000 annual visitors.  As a result of the pandemic their visitors (and attendant revenue) had dried up, but the museum carried significant fixed costs due to its mortgage, which cost the museum $585,000 per year.

One of FJC’s donors read the New York Times article and reached out to inquire whether he could refinance the museum’s mortgage with funds in his DAF account.  Upon further conversation with the Museum’s leadership, it was revealed that the mortgage was in the form of a tax-exempt bond, issued by the City of New York through its Build NYC Resource Corporation, a division of the NYC Economic Development Corporation.  In coordination with the donor, FJC purchased the bond from the bondholder, and amended the terms to interest-only at 1% per year, reducing the museum’s annual debt service payment from $585,000 per year to $80,000.  “We are paying $2.5 million less out of pocket for debt service over these five years,” explains Ms. Polland. “This has bought us time to figure out how we manage through this pandemic year, but it also freed us up to think of creative ways to operate.” Ms. Polland noted that the museum has been able to develop distance learning modules that have engaged students virtually from as far away as California.  She also noted its new exhibit focusing on a Black family and a walking tour called “Reclaiming Black Spaces,” which explores sites connected with nearly 400 years of African-American presence on the Lower East Side.  “The Museum is not just pausing,” she said. “We’re taking on new and addressing the questions important to this country.  How does learning our history help us move forward?”  The Museum’s new programs and strong emergence from the pandemic were featured again in the New York Times this month, a story that Ms. Polland describes as a “bookend” to the previous year’s story on the organization’s distressed financial picture.

“We are paying $2.5 million less out of pocket for debt service over these five years. This has bought us time to figure out how we manage through this pandemic year, but it also freed us up to think of creative ways to operate.”

Annie Polland, Executive Director, The Tenement Museum

Mr. Cohen explained that after five years, FJC intends to sell the bond back to the bond market, and will aim to recoup the $9.5 million face value of the bond for the donor’s account.  These funds can then be recycled as grants or additional loans or impact investments.

The moderator Mr. Snyder noted that customized transactions like these do not appear to be standard offerings at most DAF sponsors.  Mr. Marks noted that philanthropic lending and impact investing are more common at the more sophisticated, professionalized foundations and that FJC had a long history of applying best practices from philanthropy more broadly to their DAF account holders.  “We’re trying to inspire more of our donors to approach philanthropy in this way,” says Mr. Marks, “and work with new donors that are inspired by examples like these.”
 

Representatives from Colorado Community Media, The National Trust for Local News, and The Colorado Sun announce the acquisition of the 24 local newspapers. Photo credit: Eric Lutzens

FJC Loan Preserves Community Stewardship of Local News in Colorado

A $1.5 million loan from FJC has enabled a first-of-its-kind local and national partnership to purchase a network of 24 weekly or monthly newspapers in Colorado, preserving local mission-focused community ownership.  The newly created partner, the Colorado News Conservancy, has acquired Colorado Community Media (CCM), an independent, family-owned group of 24 community newspapers and websites.

The Colorado New Conservancy is a public benefit corporation jointly owned and operated by The National Trust for Local News and The Colorado Sun, and backed by a coalition of local and national impact investors.  The transaction points a new way forward for communities in danger of losing control of local news enterprises that are in many cases the only independent news sources providing critical coverage of community issues.

“FJC’s role was so critical. While the local and national partners were organized and ready, the project wasn’t financed until FJC came in as a mission-based lender. We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with this incredible group of funders, owners, and journalists as our first transaction.”

Eliabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO of The National Trust For Local News

Newspaper ownership in the U.S. has been rapidly consolidating over the last 15 years. As of 2018, the largest 25 newspaper owners held about one-third of all titles (with more consolidation since), and about 1,800 titles have been shuttered in the process. The most powerful newspaper owners are now private capital holding companies whose expectations for profit and return have strongly influenced local newsrooms’ size, quality, and resource levels. 

According to the National Trust for Local News, “The goal of maximizing returns on capital has put capital owners’ values at odds with the value to local communities and value to society of a thriving, well-resourced, independent press.”  The National Trust was formed to develop a new framework for newspaper ownership and governance that leverages national capital markets and supports accountability and decision-making in local communities.

“FJC’s role was so critical,” said Elizabeth Hansen Shapiro, CEO of The National Trust for Local News.  “While the local and national partners were organized and ready, the project wasn’t financed until FJC came in as a mission-based lender. We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with this incredible group of funders, owners, and journalists as our first transaction.”

FJC sources loan capital from the donor advised funds it sponsors, from donors who opt into the Agency Loan Fund pool as an impact investment vehicle.  Since National Trust was a relatively new organization, FJC’s loan was made possible by the participation of a number of the project’s stakeholders as guarantors: the Gates Family Foundation, the American Journalism Project, and the Colorado Trust. 

“We are thrilled to provide bridge financing to this vital initiative to strengthen local journalism,” said Sam Marks, Chief Executive Officer of FJC. “An ambitious project like this requires the coordination of a range of mission-motivated stakeholders, including capital providers.”

For additional coverage, see:

Washington Post, “New Deal: Colorado-national consortium buys community papers”

Denver Gazette, “National Trust for Local News, Colorado Sun buy 24 Colorado newspapers”

Donor’s Revolving Fund Finances Energy Efficient Shelter For the Homeless

Through a revolving account at FJC, a donor passionate about the environment has provided financing to create a state-of-the-art transitional shelter for New York City homeless families, through an innovative philanthropic partnership with the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC). 

The donor has created a revolving account at FJC that NYCEEC can use to cover critical project activities like energy modeling, feasibility analysis, design drawings, and land-use approvals.  These costs are reimbursable when construction financing closes, allowing funds in the FJC account to be redeployed for NYCEEC’s future worthy projects. 

NYCEEC will use the capital to fund early-stage predevelopment work on the adaptive reuse of a former nurses’ residence on the Greenpoint Hospital campus in Brooklyn. The renovated building will provide state of the art temporary accommodation to 200 of New York City’s most vulnerable residents.  The shelter is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.  Savings in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional construction are projected to be 384 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

The shelter is a component of the $212.7 million redevelopment of the Greenpoint Hospital campus, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The redevelopment project is the culmination of years of advocacy by a consortium of neighborhood-based organizations, led by the nonprofit St. Nick’s Alliance.  The development will also include apartments for extremely low-income and very low-income residents and seniors, a community facility, and a network of new open spaces to connect the campus to the surrounding neighborhood. A partnership between St. Nick’s Alliance, Project Renewal, and Hudson Companies was designated by New York City to redevelop the site, which has been primarily vacant since 1982 when the Greenpoint Hospital was closed.

Philanthropic capital from FJC will fund over one-third of NYCEEC’s $1.3 million predevelopment loan. “We allocate capital from a range of public and private sources for projects like this,” explains Jay Merves, NYCEEC’s Director of Business Development. “Many of our capital providers put geographic or other restrictions on the use of their capital, so the flexibility of funds from the FJC donor is vital in allowing NYCEEC to provide financing for clean energy projects in underserved communities.”

Photo courtesy of Cultural Heritage Finance Alliance

CHiFA Issues White Paper on Heritage-Led Regeneration and Sustainable Development

FJC celebrates the release of partner organization The Cultural Heritage Finance Alliance (CHiFA)’s report Impact and Identity, Investing in Heritage for Sustainable Development.  The white paper makes the case for historic resources as investable assets for the comprehensive and sustainable revitalization of many at-risk and culturally significant communities throughout the world. Particularly timely, the report reflects on successful models to define a path forward that is an antidote to environmental degradation, civic erosion, the loss of irreplaceable cultural treasures and the displacement of local populations.

The report presents studies of six examples from across the world where heritage investment has restored vibrancy to historic urban centers that had been in economic and cultural decline.  A housing investment company in Amsterdam, a World Bank loan in Fez, a visionary private investor in Mexico City, entrepreneurial businesses in Panama City and Yangon, and a government-supported loan program in the UK succeeded in catalyzing more than a billion USD in leveraged capital. 

Dynamic success requires a complement of NGO engagement, private investment and mission-motivated entrepreneurs who together can advance heritage preservation at the urban and district levels.

FJC formed a strategic partnership with CHiFA last year as loan servicer and finance administrator.  As CHiFA raises philanthropic loan capital to invest in sites globally, FJC’s role will be to manage the operations of aggregating and deploying these funds, including servicing for its international project loan fund. This arrangement will allow CHiFA to remain lean and focused on mission, with FJC leveraging its scaled operational platform to deliver back office support and ancillary services. FJC will also manage payments for most of CHiFA’s day to day expenses.

The Cultural Heritage Finance Alliance (CHiFA) was founded in 2019 to promote heritage-led regeneration through innovative financing solutions.   Its goal is to position historically and culturally significant built environments as anchors of environmental, social and economic development.  Bonnie Burnham, president and founder of CHiFA and president emerita of the World Monuments Fund, stated: “Preserving heritage is among the targets set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but it is not on the radar screen of investors and institutions who are aligning behind sustainable development.  And yet there are inspiring and highly impactful examples of how it can transform the places we live, for the better.  We want to call attention to these examples so that people around the world can learn from them.”  

Public agencies are responsible for heritage preservation in most countries.  But with an increasing number of sites under protection, decreasing budgets, and low political priority, these agencies face a crisis of inadequate resources.  There is a tendency to focus on landmark structures, whereas the more encompassing urban fabric — where people live and work — offers the greatest potential for impact. While public commitments are necessary, dynamic success requires a complement of NGO engagement, private investment and mission-motivated entrepreneurs who together can advance heritage preservation at the urban and district levels. Currently, no entity exists within the heritage conservation field to facilitate these partnerships and to align capital to bring projects to fruition.

CHiFA’s research, conducted over the course of 2020, has revealed a spectrum of  successful models. The full case study analyses are linked to the appendix, and will be released as a second volume in early April 2021. 

Gary Hattem, a co-founder of CHiFA and former head of Global Social Finance at Deutsche Bank, concluded: “The experiences, ideas, strategies, and plans presented in this paper explore a new frontier: that of how to go about healing our planet and preserving the richness of the world’s cultural assets. CHiFA builds upon lessons learned to identify a financially viable ecosystem capable of validating heritage sites by leveraging their irreplaceable value to the benefit of existing residents.” 

Photo courtesy of Services for the UnderServed.

FJC Borrower S:US Offers Hope to Homeless Families

Finding permanent housing has been challenging for Naquana, 30, and her family, but she has a team supporting her.  A housing specialist is helping her navigate the dizzying bureaucratic obstacles that face homeless families attempting to find an affordable apartment.  She and her family, which includes her partner and two children aged 3 and 9, also receive mental health services and access to a full range of vocational and recreational programs.  With a dedicated staff and a safe and clean place for her family to sleep every night, Naquana and her family can transition into permanent housing with dignity, a peace of mind, community support and hope for the future.

These services and many more are provided at Echo Family Residence, a temporary housing residence for homeless families, which opened in the Bronx in November, 2020 and is operated by the nonprofit Services for the UnderServed (S:US).  The project was made possible in part by an $868,000 loan from FJC’s Agency Loan Fund, which bridged public sector commitments from the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

In recent years homelessness has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression.  Although homeless individuals on the street are surely the most visible manifestation of the city’s homelessness crisis, in fact 62% of New York City’s homeless are families with children.  In 2020, 122,926 people slept in the New York City municipal shelter system. 39,300 of these homeless New Yorkers were children. Since New York is the only city in the U.S. that is legally required to provide shelter to homeless families and single adults, the City works with providers like S:US to operate “Tier II shelters,” which provide temporary housing and social services to homeless families until viable housing alternatives become available.

Although homeless individuals on the street are surely the most visible manifestation of the city’s homelessness crisis, in fact 62% of New York City’s homeless are families with children.

Families enter the shelter system for a variety of reasons, but New York City’s chronic lack of affordable housing is a primary driver.  It is estimated that there are only 35 affordable apartments available per 100 extremely low-income renters in New York. Although a moratorium on evictions is currently in place statewide due to the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous other factors drive low-income families into homelessness, including domestic violence and hazardous housing conditions.  In Naquana’s case, her family fled her apartment due to an incident of neighborhood violence that resulted in her partner being hospitalized.

For families like Naquana’s, S:US’s Echo Family Residence offers a ray of hope in the face of crisis: newly constructed individual apartments with their own kitchens and bathrooms, and amenities that one might find in permanent housing, including 24/7 security, on-site laundry, a communal back yard and indoor recreational space.  The staff at S:US provide services that are designed to support homeless families including individual and group counseling, case management and referrals, housing placement and employment assistance, and vocational training. 

Echo Family Residence offers a ray of hope in the face of crisis: newly constructed individual apartments with their own kitchens and bathrooms, and amenities that one might find in permanent housing, including 24/7 security, on-site laundry, a communal back yard and indoor recreational space.

Naquana greatly values the support she is receiving from Echo Family Residence’s housing specialist and notes the supportive culture of the S:US staff.  “Everybody here is on the same page,” she says.

The Doe Fund Acquires Bronx Building Site with FJC Loan

Time was running short for The Doe Fund. The organization was in contract to purchase a property in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx for The Casanova, their new affordable housing development to be financed by both private and public dollars. As with any experience competing for properties in the New York City real estate market, for the Doe Fund time was of the essence.

When conversations with their acquisition lender fell through, The Doe Fund called FJC. “FJC was ready to provide financing almost quicker than we were ready to accept it,” explains John McDonald, The Doe Fund’s Chief Operating Officer. “Their speed and accessibility were a key factor in our ability to secure the site.”

In a period of three weeks, FJC approved a loan that covered the $4.25 million asking price, as well as $750,000 in predevelopment expenses, to cover those necessary costs the developers need to initiate a complex real estate project: environmental reviews, architectural plans, legal fees, and other costs. The loan is expected to be repaid when the Doe Fund secures $40 million in project financing, which will come from a range of public and private sources.

FJC’s speed was in part a function of the longstanding lending relationship with the Doe Fund, which has spanned decades and involved borrowing multiple loans from FJC’s Agency Loan Fund (ALF). This particular loan was somewhat unconventional. Because they hoped to finance reimbursable predevelopment expenses along with the acquisition, The Doe Fund was requesting a loan that exceeded the full amount of the appraised value of the property. This high “loan to value” may have been a stumbling block for other lenders with more rigid underwriting criteria, but FJC’s intimate knowledge of The Doe Fund and its principals allowed them to get comfortable approving the loan.

The acquisition is the first step in the Doe Fund’s development of the Casanova, an 94-unit affordable housing development with supportive services for people who would otherwise be homeless, with a special focus on people living with pre-existing conditions and seniors. The project aligns with The Doe Fund’s commitment to providing the most vulnerable New Yorkers with safe and dignified homes, and adds to their portfolio of 11 buildings offering 427 units. The Doe Fund was recently selected to the prestigious “Top 50” Affordable Housing Developer List by Affordable Housing Finance.

And housing is just one component of The Doe Fund’s work breaking the cycle of homelessness, drug addiction and criminal recidivism. New Yorkers may know The Doe Fund from the street cleaning work of the “Men in Blue”, the participants in Ready, Willing, and Able program, which provides paid work alongside holistic social services, career training, education, and sobriety support. (FJC also recently provided a loan to bridge a city government grant to provide career development, educational services and occupational training to formerly incarcerated individuals).

“It takes a lot of different partners to do this vital work for New York City,” says McDonald.  “We really appreciate FJC’s ability to provide loans to support so many of our activities, from program contracts to real estate.”

New Collaboration to Finance Cultural Heritage Sites

As the leader of the World Monuments Fund over three decades, Bonnie Burnham saw firsthand how cultural heritage sites around the globe stimulate local economies and strengthen communities. “Heritage sites, whether buildings, landscapes, or structures,” explains Ms. Burnham, “have enormous cultural or historical value that with careful stewardship can be translated into economic value and job creation for a broad range of stakeholders.” Unfortunately, many heritage sites exist in places that have limited public resources for their upkeep.

Enter the Cultural Heritage Finance Alliance (CHiFA), which brings together expertise in conservation, architecture, urban planning, business and finance to orchestrate long-term strategies that create revenue and economic sustainability for heritage assets while supporting a range of Sustainable Development Goals. The goal of CHiFA is to raise loan capital from foundations and other mission-lenders to provide working capital loans that will catalyze significant public and private investment in these important places.

As Ms. Burnham and her team prepared for CHiFA’s formal launch, they realized they needed a strategic partner to manage the operations of their loan fund. Co-Founder Gary Hattem, formerly Head of Deutsche Bank’s Global Social Finance Group, made the introduction to FJC.

As CHiFA raises philanthropic loan capital to invest in sites globally, FJC’s role will be to manage the operations of aggregating and deploying these funds, including servicing for its international project loan fund. This arrangement will allow CHiFA to remain lean and focused on mission, with FJC leveraging its scaled operational platform to deliver back office support and ancillary services. FJC will also manage payments for most of CHiFA’s day to day expenses.

“This relationship will benefit us both,” said Bonnie Burnham, President of CHiFA. “For CHiFA, FJC brings the advantage of more than 25 years of experience in loan servicing and financial management, which will give us, our partners and investors confidence that we will launch our initiative with a high degree of operational excellence. We hope this alliance with a foundation partner will accelerate cultural heritage as an emerging impact investing theme.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate with CHiFA to execute this unique and innovative international program,” said Sam Marks, Chief Executive Officer of FJC. “The revitalization of cultural sites has enormous potential impact, not just as a worthy goal on its own terms, but as an engine for economic development and job creation. As a sponsor of Donor Advised Funds with a long history of lending to the nonprofit sector, it’s exciting to apply our operational model to advance the goals of partners like CHiFA, where money meets mission.”

Photo courtesy of Brighter Tomorrows

FJC Facilitates Donor Loan to Support Families Facing Domestic Violence

It took the collective efforts of a number of people to get it done: a committed donor, a philanthropic advisor, and the staff at FJC. All parties worked together this spring to close a $100,000 cash flow loan to Brighter Tomorrows, a nonprofit working with victims of domestic violence to provide shelter, counseling and legal advocacy to New York’s Suffolk and Nassau counties as well as New York City and the Tri-State area.

The process began with Sandy Wheeler, a longtime donor to Brighter Tomorrows. Over time, Ms. Wheeler developed a trusted relationship with Dolores Kordon, the organization’s Executive Director, who often lamented the difficulties she faced running an organization that relied heavily on state contracts that were typically slow to pay. “It seemed like the chronic cash flow challenges of Brighter Tomorrow could be creatively addressed with philanthropy,” said Ms. Wheeler.

The Wheelers spoke to their philanthropic advisor at a large financial institution, who made the introduction to FJC. “The Wheelers already had a Donor Advised Fund account, but the sponsor wasn’t really set up to originate loans,” their advisor explained. “We appreciated that FJC had the track record and infrastructure to make this proposed loan happen, and quickly.”

Within a few weeks, staff at FJC worked with the Wheelers to open and fund a new DAF account, review Brighter Tomorrow’s financials, and prepare the legal documents with terms customized according to the Wheelers’ wishes. Among other features, the loan carries no interest.

“Brighter Tomorrows is so grateful for this intervention by FJC and the Wheelers,” says Ms. Kordon. “Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when cash was tight due to many competing programmatic demands, having the Wheeler’s loan to bridge our day-to-day expenses provided us the flexibility to be responsive to the families we were serving, like distributing food cards and helping clients pay rent.”