In 2011, the imminent closure of a local emergency shelter threatened the availability of around-the-clock support and space for families in immediate need. Milwaukee Women’s Center (MWC), a domestic violence organization that’s provided supportive services and emergency shelter since 1980, stepped in to save the safe haven.
With a $625,000 loan from IFF, a CDFI dedicated solely to meeting the real-estate needs of nonprofits, MWC bought the building and made critical renovations. The IFF loan also enabled MWC to rehire the 15 employees who would have lost their jobs if MWC hadn’t acquired the space. Today, this MWC shelter is the largest in the state and offers supportive services to women and children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence.
According to LaTrice Hogan, Director of MWC, IFF’s support was more than financial. "The IFF team is sincerely concerned with the population we serve, as evidenced by the respect and care they have extended to our families. It is a privilege and a pleasure to work with such a supportive partner."
Lending to the Milwaukee nonprofit represented a new frontier for the Chicago-based IFF, which recently expanded into Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, and Wisconsin—an expansion made possible, in part, by the Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance. In 2008, the prestigious Awards program presented the CDFI with a $5.5 million award, which enabled IFF to bring responsible financial services and products to more underserved communities.
“We are proud of achieving our expansion goals. More than half of the loans IFF closed in 2012 are outside of Illinois, meaning we’re succeeding in providing a large variety of nonprofits with financing that helps them realize their missions,” said Joe Neri, CEO, IFF. “The NEXT Award was a key to this success. It provided funding but it also inspired us—we were emboldened by the honor, and worked even harder to meet the expectations and responsibility that come with these resources.”