NFF in the City of Angels
A range of unique and shared nonprofit challenges
A variety of solo and partnered solutions
NFF has proudly brought to the Los Angeles-based social sector a range of creative thinking, empathy, funding, expertise, and partnerships to address the many facets and complex webs that build community strength and well-being.
LA County is a study in contrasts. On one hand, it is experiencing robust economic growth, a boom in real estate development, and unemployment that is almost back down to pre-recession levels. On the other hand, it has approximately 50,000 homeless people and severe inequity, with immigrants and other marginalized groups suffering disproportionately across such measures of well-being as employment opportunities, educational attainment, and health outcomes.
NFF’s work in Los Angeles illustrates the range of support we provide to organizations working on the local and regional levels to address inequities.
Health and Human Services
As Alpha’s wife struggled with worsening alcoholism, he struggled to hold down a job while caring for their two sons, and the family spiraled into homelessness. Then they found their way to LA Family Housing (LAFH), dedicated to helping people transition out of homelessness and poverty through a continuum of housing and supportive services.
In 1983, LAFH had a 40-unit motel in North Hollywood where families could stay for up to 30 days. Today, it’s one of the largest providers of housing and homeless services in Los Angeles, and owns and operates 23 properties offering temporary, permanently affordable, and permanent supportive housing, with services that each year help more than 6,400 people move toward greater stability and self-sufficiency. This year, LAFH will open a new Campus centralizing its operations and those of community partners to provide LAFH clients and the public at large with employment services; housing assistance; legal aid, and medical, mental health, and dental care, all under one roof. Across a green space, 49 new units will be homes for chronically homeless adults. The 80,000-square-foot Campus was financed through Low Income Housing Tax Credits, New Markets Tax Credits, private foundations and individual donors, public grants, land contributions, debt, and sponsor equity. NFF, in collaboration with Dignity Health and Genesis LA Economic Growth Corporation, provided $8.35 million of loans.
"Our homeless neighbors are best served when supportive services, health care, and housing are integrated, providing permanent solutions to end homelessness in their lives," said Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, LA Family Housing’s president and CEO. "NFF bridged a critical financing need, which allowed us to move forward with the second phase of our transformative Campus development, a regional hub that will serve thousands in our community.”
L.A. Kitchen believes neither food nor people should ever go to waste, and works to empower, nourish, and engage the community. The nonprofit and its social enterprise, Strong Food, work with local farmers, wholesalers, grocery stores, and restaurants to turn potential food waste into nutritious meals for older Angelenos. Modeled on founder Robert Egger’s innovative DC Central Kitchen, they also provide training, mentorship, and a path to food-service careers for youth aging out of foster care and the formerly incarcerated. In 2015, NFF provided a flexible, $2-million financing package to help launch Strong Food and to outfit a 20,000-square-foot commercial kitchen for meal preparation, helping the organization achieve its goal of delivering healthy, affordable meals “in a way that provides strong social and financial returns to our investors, employees, and community.” The package included NFF capital and a foundation Program-Related Investment; in addition, recognizing the inherent risk of a start-up, we obtained a partial guaranty from a California small business program.
NFF loans have helped LA public and charter schools better serve California’s next generation. In 2012, a $12-million recovery loan helped Inner City Education Foundation, a network of 12 public schools in South LA, emerge from financial distress so its leadership could focus on long-term mission needs like upgrading facilities, improving student achievement, and implementing programs. The same year, NFF provided the charter school network Partnerships to Uplift Communities a $2-million line of credit for working capital and the acquisition and refinancing of two campuses housing five schools. In 2015, when PUC sought a financing partner to complete construction on three new school buildings in the Sylmar neighborhood, NFF’s $1.9-million loan helped ensure that more than 1,000 students were welcomed into 46 new classrooms, an auditorium, a kitchen, and playing fields.
Arts and Culture
In 2014, NFF partnered with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Colburn Foundation, and The Herb Alpert Foundation to offer arts-capitalization workshops and one-on-one consulting to a group of their grantees. We helped increase the nonprofit leaders’ financial knowledge and their facility to communicate their cases for financial support, using NFF’s State of the Sector Survey and information from DataArts to help them understand and articulate the challenges facing arts organizations nationally and locally, and the ways these organizations can successfully strengthen their capital structures, strategic planning, and adaptable business models.
Across the LA Social Sector
LA nonprofits with missions ranging from arts to education to health and human services to advocacy face many common funding challenges. Committed to ensuring the nonprofit financial strength and resiliency that’s critical to the city’s vibrancy, NFF and the California Community Foundation embarked on a two-year initiative to build leadership capacity in 24 very varied organizations. Through Financial Leadership Clinics, one-on-one consulting, and planning tools and frameworks, NFF helped the nonprofit leaders avoid common pitfalls, plan for short- and long-term needs, and own and articulate their organizations’ financial stories. One participant shared, “Since participating in this initiative, we have shifted some of our cultural practices. For instance, we are devoting the time to discussing and make the argument with the entire team about the need to fundraise not only for the programs, but the need to fundraise to ensure organization stability overtime while over assessing sustainable growth based on full cost analysis.”