PRI Means Community Investing: 1997 – 1998

William B. Friedeman, WSHF Director(center), on a site visit to LaCasa's new building, examines the Sexual Assault Survivor Quilt (Safe Hands Gives Safe Touches) with Tori Flink, LaCasa's Executive Director (right), and Sue Aldrich, LaCasa Board Member and immediate Past President of the Board.
William B. Friedeman, WSHF Director(center), on a site visit to LaCasa's new building, examines the Sexual Assault Survivor Quilt (Safe Hands Gives Safe Touches) with Tori Flink, LaCasa's Executive Director (right), and Sue Aldrich, LaCasa Board Member and immediate Past President of the Board.

When, in May, 1995, The Lake County Council Against Sexual Assault (LaCASA), a not for profit social service agency serving sexually abused children, women and their families, needed funds to build a new building, they initiated a capital campaign.

They immediately needs funds to purchase the land. Who would invest? After all, community social service/health care agencies are not for profit entities without abundant collateral and receivables. Washington Square, utilizing a funding technique often employed by much larger national foundations, provided a PRI – Program Related Investment to make LaCASA’s dream a reality. It provided the basis for a successful $1.5 million capital campaign.

A PRI is a dream of a “loan”. It provides funds at below market rates. In fact, Washington Square’s terms are better than any commercial loan available. In addition, the repaid principal must be distributed again by the Foundation in the form of either new grants or PRI’s. A “recyclable grant” is another way of describing a PRI.

Some foundations make PRI’s through an intermediary. Our Foundation has found that it is more effective to become a direct “partner” with the PRI recipient. This is truly “venture capital” and the Foundation also provides technical assistance to help make the joint venture a success.

With almost $1 million in PRI’s since May 14, 1991, the Foundation’s not for profit recipients have an amazing pay back record. While, of course, not all PRI projects are a success, to date, not one agency has failed to make its payments.

PRI’s are often used to fund requests that do not meet our standard grant making guidelines, such as construction, land acquisition and non-medical equipment and furnishings. Over time, PRI’s have helped to fund the establishment of several health care clinics: Uptown International Center for Community Health Center (Travelers & Immigrants Aid of Chicago), now Heartland Alliance; Roseland Christian Health Ministries, and Schwab at Anixter for Persons with Disabilities. PRI’s were also used to fund air conditioners at The Center Home for Hispanic Elderly, Casa Central’s Nursing Home during the recent heat emergency in June 1995 and equipment for the expansion of the Casa Central Adult Day Care Program. Other health care facilities utilizing Washington Square Health PRI’s have been Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center, Erie Family Health Center, Chicago Commons and Westside Holistic Family Services. The largest and most recent PRI is with the Chinese American Service League for the purchase of the land for a new community center facility. This PRI has initiated the Chinese American Service League’s capital campaign for the new community center.

Often the Foundation will provide both a PRI for some items of a project and an outright grant for other aspects of the same project. PRI’s, even more than grants, make Washington Square a “partner and investor” in the Chicagoland community.