Nonprofits often face limited loan options, and the loans available in the private sector usually come with high-interest rates, making them less effective in a nonprofit context. In 2019, Whitney Gustin Connor took the helm as the Executive Director of Kids First Health Care, armed with her knowledge of capital loans from previous roles.
“Kids First has been in Commerce City for 44 years. This community has seen organizations and services come and go many times over that time,” she said. “We’re fully committed to staying here for the long haul.” Gustin Connor, aware of the concept of mission-related investments (MRIs), believed that MRIs could be a fit for Kids First and Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation (DDCOF). This led her to reach out to DDCOF to explore potential opportunities.
From there, a great partnership was born. Kids First successfully obtained a loan through the Oral Health Capital Loan Fund, DDCOF’s avenue for making mission-related investments. The loan enabled the organization to purchase space for a new pediatric clinic and administrative offices inside the former Adams County Human Services building. As a commitment to the community, the goal of this new space was to serve more kids, provide additional services, and address the unique healthcare challenges faced by area residents. These challenges included transportation barriers, which made it difficult for families to attend multiple appointments for various services. However, the new space allowed families to access family resource centers, nutrition services, dental care, mental health services, and medical care all in one convenient location, eliminating the need for extensive travel.
MRIs are a much better alternative to a private sector loan and pay off a much more reasonable interest rate. “Foundation loans are a great option to complement traditional grantmaking that is so essential to nonprofits’ success,” said Gustin Connor.
Gustin Connor looks back on the loan process in partnership with DDCOF with a smile on her face. She describes the foundation as “incredibly responsive and super nimble.” She’s grateful for the flexibility and innovation DDCOF has brought to their partnerships with Kids First and other organizations that have received an MRI.
Today, Kids First Health Care continues to provide comprehensive healthcare services to kids and young adults up to age 21 in Adams County. They operate both community-based pediatric clinics and school-based health centers, guided by the “Kids First Model,” which prioritizes patient-centered, team-based care, and cultural and linguistic responsiveness.
MRIs offer a promising option for nonprofits to secure the necessary funding to advance their missions. To learn more about DDCOF’s community investments and the Oral Health Capital Loan Fund.