Founded nearly 30 years ago, IFF is the largest nonprofit Community Development Finance Institution in the Midwest. IFF finances a variety of nonprofit-sponsored community facilities that range from affordable housing to community centers, particularly in the south and west sides of Chicago. Under-resourced communities are in need of housing, schools, community centers and health centers, and IFF works with a lender, real estate consultant, and developer to provide loans to nonprofits. IFF's key initiatives include child care, health care, healthy food access, housing, schools, and sustainability. IFF is a borrower in the Benefit Chicago initiative.
Detroit's downtown boxing gym youth program gives kids a fighting chance
After becoming a father to two kids, Khali Sweeney had a vision to give Detroit youth with challenging circumstances a fighting chance at a successful life. Sweeney — known as Coach Khali to the kids — knows the challenges they face, having had friends who ended up in jail or dead from street violence.
In 2007, Sweeney founded the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program, which develops good citizenship in urban boys and girls through a demanding boxing program, strong academic support, and volunteer work.
At its last location, DBG was at capacity, serving 65 kids ages 7 to 18, with waiting list of over 450 kids throughout the city. With donor help, the gym bought a vacant 27,425-square-foot building 2 miles from its current location, where it will move to reach more of Detroit’s underserved youth.
To facilitate this transformation, community lender IFF provided a $362,000 loan that will be used to make improvements to the new location, including roof repair and build-out of the space.
DBG plans to occupy 18,000 square feet and rent the remaining space to nonprofits that complement its mission. During the first year of operation in the much larger space, DBG will work toward adding 18 full-time positions to its staff of three full-time and six part-time employees.
“We have come so far,” Sweeney said. “The support and recognition our program has received has been nothing short of amazing. These are the hardest-working kids I have ever known, and I’m thrilled that our new location is becoming real for them.”
Upon entering the program, some participants read as many as five years below their grade level. All of the program’s past participants have graduated from high school, with 98% of them going on to college, in an area of Detroit where the high school graduation rate can be as low as 13%. To date, DBG has served 258 youth.
The Praxis commitment
Praxis Mutual Funds® supports organizations such as IFF through fund investments in Calvert Impact Capital, an impact-investing institution that helps people around the world through community development financing. It’s part of the Praxis commitment to place approximately 1% of each of its funds to benefit neighborhoods and individuals through community development investments.
Learn more about the Praxis family of funds.