This summer, FJC closed a $50,000 loan to the nonprofit The In[Heir]itance Project, to assist the theater organization’s growth while it waited for committed foundation grants to be paid. The loan represented a satisfying “second act” in the relationship between FJC and the nonprofit, which had previously been incubated at FJC as a fiscally sponsored project.
“It’s always great when one of the programs that ‘graduates’ from FJC’s fiscal sponsorship can become one of our borrowers,” says Laura Hoffman, Program Manager of FJC’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program.
The In[HEIR]itance Project works with intergenerational, intersectional, and interfaith communities to build relationships across divides through collaborative theater projects inspired by shared cultural touchstones. They are currently beginning work in Memphis on the fifth play in a series exploring Exodus narratives across the United States. Previous stops in the playmaking series included projects in Harlem, NYC working with formerly incarcerated New Yorkers, Omaha working with recently resettled refugees, Cincinnati working with the Black and Jewish communities to explore the rituals of Exodus (resulting in a Juneteenth Seder ritual performance), and in Coastal Virginia exploring displacement and white flight.
Hoffman recalls that Co-Founding Artist and Executive Director Jon Adam Ross joined FJC’s fiscal sponsorship program in 2015. The initial proposal projected a three-year initial project of modest ambition. (The original budget was $50,000 per year). During its period as a fiscally sponsored project, FJC acted as the 501(c)(3), receiving charitable contributions on the organization’s behalf and acting as a fiscal back office.
Over time the organization grew into a national arts organization of artists, scholars and activists that could bring people together to listen, learn and collaborate to create theater. Since beginning operation in January of 2015, In[HEIR]itance Project artists have led projects in over a dozen cities around the country, engaging over 10,000 community participants, paying over 170 local artists, and partnering with more than 400 partnering organizations, institutions, and schools. The In[HEIR]itance Project received its 501(c)(3) status in 2020, and it has been operating independently since.
The loan came at a critical time for the organization. In the summer of 2020, the pandemic, along with the national awakening that occurred in response to the murder of George Floyd, created a surge in demand from community partners for collaborations with the In[Heir]itance Project. The organization has a 27-city waiting list of project inquiries, and they have had to scale up quickly while maintaining the high quality of their collaborations and productions. With philanthropic commitments in hand but payments expected later in the year, the organization was in need of some working capital to bridge the timing gap. FJC made the bridge loan from its Agency Loan Fund, an impact investment vehicle that pools together funds from donor accounts and makes loans to nonprofits.
“Our organization wouldn’t exist today without the mentorship, guidance, and incubation time we received from FJC when it served as our fiscal sponsor,” says Ross. “Having that relationship endure after we left the nest is not only reassuring, it’s an exciting next step in our maturation as an organization. And we are so grateful.”