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Sweet Beginnings, a honey-based production company that offers employment to the formerly incarcerated, is one of the first organizations to receive financing from Benefit Chicago.

Benefit Chicago Announces Its First Loans

Today Benefit Chicago announces its first beneficiaries. Benefit Chicago is a collaboration between MacArthur Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, and Calvert Foundation to mobilize $100 million for impact investments and social enterprises working throughout the Chicago region. Benefit Chicago was first launched in April 2016, and now a year into the project, announces the first set of organizations who will receive financing.

These organizations are:

  • AutonomyWorks: A for-profit social enterprise that provides meaningful employment for adults with autism. The organization contracts with national and international marketing organizations who need detail- and task-oriented employees to effectively support their digital and online marketing efforts.The $600,000 loan will be used to expand marketing and training activities to increase the number of people hired.

  • CNI: A Community Development Corporation (CDC) and certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that engages in comprehensive revitalization work in Chicago’s economically challenged neighborhoods. CNI is best known for its multifaceted redevelopment efforts in the Pullman community. Proceeds from the $2 million loan will be used in part to facilitate the completion of the 111th Street Retail Gateway in Pullman, which is currently under construction.

  • Garfield Produce: An indoor, vertical hydroponic vegetable farm that creates sustainable local employment and generates wealth in disinvested neighborhoods through the production and sale of high quality fresh produce year-round. Garfield Produce will use its $500,000 loan to expand production capacity and hire additional employees.

  • IFF: A mission-driven lender, real estate consultant, and developer, which finances a variety of nonprofit sponsored community facilities projects that range from affordable housing and schools to community centers and commercial buildings. The $5 million loan will help finance a variety of projects, including a children’s theatre in the Near West Side neighborhood, a child care and family services facility in Humboldt Park, and a youth sports and education facility in Bronzeville.

  • LISC Chicago: A leading national community development intermediary, raising funds that are invested through community-based organizations throughout Chicago. LISC Chicago will use the $3.5 million loan to support the Southwest Corridor Collaborative (SWCC), a new community partnership focused on revitalizing the 63rd Street corridor from Cottage Grove Avenue to Pulaski Road and on Halsted from 63rd through 79th Street.

  • Sweet Beginnings: A wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network that uses the production of beelove™ – a line of honey-based products – to provide job training to community residents who, due to former incarceration or other circumstances, have found it difficult to procure gainful employment. The $500,000 loan will be used to expand production and sales, which will make it possible to increase the number of individuals served and their length of employment.

To find out more, see the announcement in the Chicago Tribune.

Want to invest? You can invest in our Community Investment Note and target to Benefit Chicago and help finance organizations such as these who are supporting the Chicago community.