UCC Cornerstone Fund — A Proud Partner to CHHSM and its Member Organizations
One of the many ways the UCC Council for Health and Human Service Ministries works to create additional resources for CHHSM members is through its UCC partnerships, and one of the best examples is the UCC Cornerstone Fund. And, as two CHHSM organizations recently discovered, a relationship with Cornerstone means expanded ministry in their communities.
Archway Communities, based in Lakewood, Colo., and Hoyleton Youth & Family Services in Fairview Heights, Ill., are seeing their work with the Cornerstone Fund create new opportunities, thanks to loans specifically tailored to their needs.
Hoyleton Builds New Campus
At Hoyleton, the dream had been to create a new, state-of-the-art residential campus to allow youth who are both developmentally and intellectually delayed and have experienced trauma to heal and grow in a trauma-informed therapeutic environment. Hoyleton President and CEO Chris Cox turned to the Cornerstone Fund when other lenders shut their doors.
“From day one, Hoyleton’s experience working with the Cornerstone Fund has felt like family,” Cox said. “Cornerstone Fund understood us and our vision from the beginning, whereas other large lenders were looking for ways to say no from the start.”
To assist Hoyleton, Cornerstone is providing construction financing that will be woven together with funding from the State of Illinois and Hoyleton’s “Homes for Healing” capital campaign to fund the $16 million project. On July 27, 2023, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker and Marc D. Smith, director of Illinois’ Department of Children & Family Services, were part of a ground-breaking ceremony for the once-in-a-generation project.
The new campus will include six cottages, an administrative building, and a small warehouse for equipment and storage. The layout will allow for safe and secure outdoor spaces for recreational activities. The cottages will be equipped with appropriate sensory space and lighting, private bedrooms, and semi-private baths.
Solar power will be used throughout the new campus, plus Hoyleton will have the capability for six electric vehicle charging stations. “We are so glad that Cornerstone will be providing additional financing for Hoyleton to add solar to their campus redevelopment to be even better prepared for the future,” said Rebecca Perera, Cornerstone’s chief of credit and in-house expert on Creation Care project.
In 2021, the Cornerstone Fund introduced the Creation Care Investment and Loan Program, specifically dedicated to environmental justice efforts. The program allows Cornerstone to offer lower subsidized loan rates to UCC affiliates. CHHSM, the UCC’s national setting, United Church Funds, and the UCC’s Wisconsin Conference were founding investors.
Hoyleton’s future plans include developing a second campus in nearby Bellville, Ill., and Cornerstone is likely to be involved. “Hoyleton will not do another project without first going to the Cornerstone Fund for their guidance and assistance,” said Cox.
Archway to Increase Affordable Housing
Archway Communities is known in the Denver area for providing service-enriched affordable housing for very low-to-moderate income families and veterans. Its success has only increased the demand for more affordable housing — as well as for Archway’s expertise — in many nearby communities. To fund the predevelopment costs associated with developing new affordable housing communities, Archway needed a flexible funding relationship. The Cornerstone Fund created a loan product to meet Archway’s needs for expanding its services.
“Through our partnership with The Cornerstone Fund, Archway Communities will be able to fuel its mission to develop more affordable housing, bringing us closer to a world where everyone has a safe place to call home,” said Sebastian Corradino, CEO of Archway. “The generous $3 million line of credit they have provided is more than a financial arrangement — it’s a tangible commitment to our shared goals.”
Like Hoyleton, Archway has found its relationship with Cornerstone to be more than just a business arrangement. “Working with Cornerstone is a seamless blend of business and shared vision,” said George Kelly, Archway’s CFO and treasurer. “Their dedication and understanding of our work extend beyond simple transitional relationship. They are true partners, embodying the spirit of camaraderie, shared purpose, and mutual trust. Their expertise and guidance have proven invaluable in navigating the challenges of our mission.”
Corradino also envisions the future. “In the long run, this relationship will benefit Archway profoundly,” he said. “It provides the financial flexibility needed to continue our transformative work, enabling us to expand our reach, innovate our solutions, and ultimately serve more individuals and families in need. With Cornerstone by our side, we are excited about the future and our capacity to foster positive change in our communities, one home at a time.”
Other Programs for CHHSM Members
The Cornerstone Fund and CHHSM have long been ministry partners. Cornerstone is a regular sponsor of CHHSM’s Annual Gathering, and has assisted many other CHHSM members. Additionally, CHHSM itself invests in the Cornerstone Fund.
“We are so pleased that the Cornerstone Fund continues to find creative solutions to support CHHSM member ministries,” said Jamar Doyle, CHHSM president and CEO. “And we feel great about investing the fixed income portion of CHHSM’s investments with the Cornerstone Fund — we get great returns, and we know the funds are supporting projects that match our values.”
Maria Coyne, president and CEO of the Cornerstone Fund, also sees the mutual benefit of the fund’s relationship with CHHSM. “Our Cornerstone team has really enjoyed working most recently with Chris Cox from Hoyleton and George Kelly and Joe Palestine from Archway,” Coyne said. “We love the mission alignment around joining together in faith to invest in and build community. We also are proud to have Jamar serve on our board of directors. We are very pleased to serve all the CHHSM agencies who, over time, have been either investors in or borrowers from the Cornerstone Fund.”
Cornerstone’s chief lending officer, Scott Hackenberg, has special ties to CHHSM, as a current member of the Nollau Leadership Institute’s class of 2023-2024. Along with his classmates, he will be consecrated as a diakonal minister during final worship at next year’s Annual Gathering in St. Louis.
Hackenberg agrees with Coyne. “I have really enjoyed getting to know the leaders at Hoyleton and Archway through our relationship with them,” he says, “and I have also enjoyed getting to meet so many amazing leaders from other CHHSM agencies through my participation in the Nollau Leadership Institute.”
In addition to loan programs, Cornerstone’s investment opportunities offer competitive rates of return, perfect for helping agencies fund future projects.
One such program is the Racial Equity Giving Bonus, created in 2021 to provide an opportunity for investors to support either a pre-identified and vetted national organization working for racial equity or a self-identified local/regional nonprofit organization doing this work by naming them the recipient of a 10 percent gift. This investment opportunity also supports the mission of the Cornerstone Fund by allowing it to provide even more low-cost loans to churches and nonprofit organizations with an eye toward racial justice.
The program is similar to Cornerstone’s initiative developed specially for CHHSM — the CHHSM Builder Bonus Program. Created in 2017, investors in the program — which is open to CHHSM agencies and to individual donors — can earn a bonus rate of return, including a 10 percent contribution to the UCC-related ministry of their choice, including CHHSM members. It is just one more avenue that CHHSM member organizations can pursue in partnering with the Cornerstone Fund.
“I look forward to talking with more CHHSM agencies about how their investment in the Cornerstone Fund — especially the CHHSM Builder Bonus — will allow them to both earn a great return and also support the funding of more important projects expanding much-needed services,” said the Rev. Dr. Courtney Stange-Tregear, Cornerstone’s chief relationship officer.
The Cornerstone Fund is unique in that an organization’s investments earn competitive interest and support UCC-related organizations and ministries. At the same time, Cornerstone offers loans to enhance and expand ministry.
“We understand CHHSM members’ needs because the only organizations we serve are churches and other faith-based entities and not-for-profits,” said Coyne. “We are not a commercial bank and so we have a great deal of flexibility to work with our borrowers on customized solutions — especially if you hit a snag.”
“Your investments get a great return, and both investments and loans help build community and enhance your ministries,” Coyne added. “It’s a privilege to say that the Cornerstone Fund and CHHSM are partners in faith-based ministry, and are working together to build community.”
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