Loans: Social Justice

Featured Loan: Hamilton-Madison House

Supporting healthy immigrant communities in Manhattan’s Lower East Side

$250,000 working capital loan (December 2022)

The mission of Hamilton-Madison House (HMH) is to support residents of New York City's Chinatown and Two Bridges neighborhoods through senior centers, childcare, youth development programs, community advocacy, and a garden cemetery. One of the first of New York City's historic settlement houses, HMH has advocated for immigrant communities in the Lower East Side for over 100 years. By prioritizing offering these critical services in the native languages of the diverse populations it serves, HMH responds directly to the needs of more than 5,000 people annually in all phases of life.

Hamilton-Madison House depends on contracts with government agencies for a significant portion of its funding. Government payments to nonprofits are often delayed, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Financed through NFF’s CARE Fund, which offers 0% interest loans to community-centered nonprofits led by people of color, this loan will make sure that HMH has consistent access to working capital for its essential programs while it waits for government funding to arrive. With support from this loan, HMH plans to expand its services. This loan will also help HMH set up a direct deposit program for its employees, ensuring that they are paid smoothly for their essential work – assuring the well-being of thousands of people in Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and beyond.

The mission of Just Cities is to advance racial and social justice through urban planning, public policy, leadership development, and community outreach. Co-founded by former Oakland mayor and congressperson Ron Dellums, Just Cities organizes community convenings, advocates for affordable housing, and invests in local initiatives to help overcome racial divides in the East Bay Area. In the past two years, Just Cities has served over 9,000 formerly incarcerated residents and over 5,000 low-income tenants and homeowners through their policy work.

NFF’s Bay Area Racial Equity Fund provides zero-interest loans with flexible repayment plans to BIPOC-led nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area. Offered through this fund, this loan will smooth over cash flow issues caused by delays in government reimbursement and fund vital trainings for staff. With support from this loan, Just Cities can focus on its critical work: designing cities that remember our collective past of injustice and forging new roadmaps of inclusion and self-determination.
Thirty-two seconds. That is the average amount of time it takes for Good Call to connect a free lawyer to someone who has been arrested, has a warrant out for their arrest, or is engaged with the police. By leveraging technology and community organizing, Good Call provides New York City communities of color with free legal support that could help them prevent the lifelong consequences of wrongful charges. Good Call provides at least 5,000 clients each year with access to early legal intervention – and they are advocating for this to become a standard process in New York City. In 2021 Good Call provided 2,000 callers with free legal help, all of whom qualified as low-income.

Good Call has seen an increase in demand for their services during the pandemic. Financed through NFF’s CARE Fund, which offers 0% interest loans to community-centered nonprofits led by and serving people of color, this loan will help ensure that Good Call can continue to offer their services and be responsive to rising demand for its services. With support from this financing, Good Call can continue offering thousands of individuals in New York City and beyond the legal assistance they need – and transform the criminal justice system’s pre-trial process, one call at a time.
A non-profit research and development lab, Think of Us (TOU) is reimagining a system that considers the needs of people served by the child welfare system and positions young people as primary stakeholders in order to shift the way that things are being done from the inside out. TOU’s founder and executive director, Sixto Cancel, is a former foster youth whose personal lived experience drives his passion for this work. Think of Us strategically engages projects across tech, research, and government to create solutions that bridge the gap between policy, practice, and people. In 2021 TOU served approximately 15,800 foster youth by providing housing, financial assistance, and other community resources to help meet their immediate needs beyond traditional case management services.

TOU has seen an increase in demand for its programs and services and would like to expand in response. However, it is experiencing a delay in payments on its contract with California State. Supported in part by the Hilton Foundation, this loan from NFF will help alleviate cash flow pressures related to government reimbursement timing so that TOU can focus more of its efforts on expanding its programs and connecting foster youth to resources that help them gain control over their futures.
The Immigrant Defense Project was founded 20 years ago to combat an emerging human rights crisis: the targeting of immigrants for mass imprisonment and deportation. As this crisis has continued to escalate, the IDP has remained steadfast in fighting for fairness and justice for all immigrants caught at the intersection of the racially biased U.S. criminal and immigration systems. IDP fights to end the current era of unprecedented mass criminalization, detention, and deportation through a multipronged strategy including advocacy, litigation, legal advice and training, community defense, grassroots alliances, and strategic communications.

Advocating for immigrants grows more important every day. IDP needs to hire staff to fill several open vacancies; however, a delay in a government-funded contract has forced them to freeze hiring for the bulk of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supported by the Trinity Church Wall Street Grantee Loan fund, this loan will bridge this delayed payment so that the organization can hire for these essential positions – including a development manager who could sustainably bring in funding that would allow them to grow.
TakeRoot Justice provides legal services, participatory research, and policy support to strengthen the work of grassroots and community-based groups in New York City to dismantle racial, economic, and social oppression. Their legal and policy work supports organizations that build leadership and power within New York City’s low-income communities, particularly communities of color, immigrant communities, and others who are traditionally excluded from policy-making. Their work has included: bringing lawsuits against negligent tenants on behalf of tenants; defending community organizations against legal action; providing legal services to individual community members; and supporting advocacy led by community groups.

TakeRoot Justice receives 85% of its funding from government contracts. However, these contracts are reimbursement-based and often are delayed, meaning that the organization must acquire bridge financing to ensure it has enough cash on hand to run its critical programs and pay its staff. Further, the organization recently spun off from Urban Justice Center and became an independent nonprofit – meaning it doesn't have a larger balance sheet and financial history many lenders require. Offered through the Trinity Church Grantee Loan Fund, this bridge loan from NFF will provide the organization with several months of working capital – money that will sustain its operations until contract reimbursements come through. It will also support TakeRoot Justice's essential efforts to provide legal and policy support for the solutions that New York City's citizens need.
Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison (HL)’s mission is to support incarcerated people in making positive impacts on their own lives, their families and communities, resulting in lower rates of recidivism and poverty. They accomplish this by offering college education, life skills, and re-entry support to hundreds of currently and formerly incarcerated people each year. One creative method of re-entry support is a contractor training program through which individuals both receive certification and work on renovating a home that they live in themselves or another person going through HL’s programs. This program has helped build a strong sense of place among its alumni network.

HL started its work more than 20 years ago with the support of Trinity Church Wall Street and other local churches and synagogues. Trinity Church Wall Street was its first funder and partner, providing support for everything from hosting alumni gatherings to supporting art shows for released students and participating in the creation of programs. Today, through the Trinity Church Grantee Loan Fund, NFF is providing HL with a loan to support the separate but affiliated organization New Beginnings, which employs formerly incarcerated youth to build homes for people re-entering society. The loan will also offer HL working capital while it recuperates losses from revenue-generating events cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this financing, HL can continue to invest in critical programs for currently and formerly incarcerated people – programs that support their smooth reentry into society and pursuit of their long-term aspirations.

Partners: Trinity Church Wall Street
Why Not Prosper (WNP) was founded by and for formerly incarcerated women. The organization provides a continuum of programs that includes pre-release mentoring, housing for women that have reentered in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, and community services at a Philadelphia resource center. Why Not Prosper's programs help women gain employable skills, find and retain jobs, secure safe, decent, and affordable housing, avoid or end dependency on alcohol and drugs, reunite with children, and avoid a return to prison.

Why Not Prosper recently received a donation of several acres of land in Eagle Rock, PA, on which they plan to build a retreat center where they can both host programs and that they can rent out to generate revenue. They are launching a capital campaign to finance the development of this new site. Offered through NFF's zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will seed the capital campaign and support the salary of a full-time development director that will lead the campaign while seeking out additional grant funding for the organization. We hope this loan will allow Why Not Prosper to make the investments it needs to continue growing – and expand their programs to even more incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women.
The mission of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ – pronounced “courage”) is to unlock the potential of silenced young people (60% Latinx, 24% African American) that have been disempowered by the youth incarceration system. Specifically, the organization strives to end youth incarceration and support formerly incarcerated youth through advocacy rooted in leadership development, trauma healing, coaching, and community building. Throughout its 11-year history, CURYJ has worked to ensure that their organization represents and reflects those impacted by the pervasive systems they hope to combat; 90% of staff members are systems-impacted and 25% of staff are alumni of CURYJ programs.

Financed by NFF’s zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will support the leasehold improvement of CURYJ’s new headquarter and community center. Its newly leased space will be part of the development of the Oscar Grant Youth Empowerment Zone in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, which will include 181 units of affordable housing. The newly leased space will house a social-enterprise cafe employing formerly incarcerated community members, a multipurpose space for community organizing, and program and office space for CURYJ staff and CBO partners. CURYJ envisions this space as a nexus for intergenerational healing through the unique combination of movement strategy hubs, direct service programming, and social-enterprise.
Envision Freedom Fund (formerly known as Brooklyn Community Bail Fund) is dedicated to challenging the racism and injustices of a criminal legal system and immigration deportation regime that disproportionately target low-income communities of color, drive mass incarceration and perpetuate inequality. Cash bail and pretrial detention criminalize poverty; while wealthy people who can afford bail can return home before their trials, those who can't afford to pay must face pre-trial detention or plead guilty to avoid it. Since 2015, BCBF’s Bail Operations program has paid bail – usually about $2,000 per person, but sometimes $10,000 or more – to secure the pretrial freedom of over 5,000 presumptively innocent individuals charged with misdemeanors, sparing them a collective 700 years of time in detention. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought both new urgency and new challenges to its efforts to raise the funds required to free community members from the dangerous and unsafe conditions of ICE detention facilities. Thousands of New Yorkers are detained each year; at the same time, the average cost of paying their bail has risen by nearly 50%, from $7,500 to $11,800. Financed by the Trinity Church Grantee Loan Fund, this loan will allow BCBF to expand its pipeline of institutional and major donor support to meet this growing need, ensuring that thousands of community members can plead their cases from positions of freedom.

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