YouthBridge Pledges New $5-6 Million Investment in St. Louis Community

YouthBridge Community Foundation, the foundation with a 140+-year history supporting children and youth causes in St. Louis, today announced that it has made the first investments of its 25×25 Impact Investing Initiative, which should total $5-6 million over the next five years. This year, YouthBridge has committed $250,000 each to two longstanding, local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), IFF and Justine Petersen, with the intent of investing more capital into strengthening the St. Louis community.
YouthBridge has supported impact projects in the St. Louis area since 1995. Michael Howard, Chief Executive Officer, says the 25×25 initiative is a pledge to deliver more long-term social return by committing 25 percent of its endowment by 2025 to local and regional projects, when the average investment of foundations is only two to three percent. “We’re serious about supporting better futures for our children and that begins with creating thriving families and communities,” he says.

Howard explains that investments will be made through local CDFIs, private financial institutions that work to fill gaps in financing for nonprofits and economically disadvantaged people and communities. CDFIs continue to have a growing role in the community development space. “This is the smartest way for us to invest our resources, and IFF and Justine Petersen were easy first choices, with proven track records in delivering meaningful outcomes.”

IFF, a 30-year-old nonprofit lender and real estate consultant serving the Midwest, has provided more than $118 million in financing for 178 community projects in the St. Louis area. This includes the new, state-of-the-art facility for Urban Sprouts Child Development Center, a mixed income early education center in University City; expanded space for SoulFisher Ministries, which helps individuals transition from incarceration and responds to the needs of children with incarcerated parents; and a collection of build sites for the St. Charles Habitat for Humanity, to name a few.

“Nonprofits play a vital role in our society, but too often are denied access to the capital they need to create beautiful, modern, mission-centered spaces – spaces where students learn, where families live, and where people seek care and community. IFF’s mission is to change all that,” says David Desai-Ramirez, IFF’s Executive Director for the Southern Region. “St. Louis is a major market for us, and YouthBridge’s support will significantly boost our investment in human potential here.”

“This commitment is really above and beyond what we’ve seen and puts YouthBridge at the forefront of social impact investing in St. Louis,” says Sheri Flanagan-Vazquez, Chief Operating Officer of Justine Petersen, a financial asset-building organization with a 22-year history of providing homeownership counseling, credit-building services and microloans to both consumers and small businesses. As one of the nation’s largest small business microlenders, Justine Petersen provides access to safe and affordable capital for both start-ups and expanding businesses, with an emphasis on minority and women entrepreneurs. Working at the intersection of social work and banking, Justine Petersen has assisted over 5,000 individuals and families purchase a home, and has deployed over $100 million to historically under-served small businesses.