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CFO's Mission Related Investments and the Double Bottom Line

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks sees financial and social returns investing in the communities it serves.


     For KSMU and Making a Difference Where You Live, I’m Mike Smith.

It’s been close to 3 years now since the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Board of Directors approved committing 2% of CFO assets to “Community Investment” with low interest loans to non-profit groups when conventional financing sources are limited or unavailable.  This fiscal year, that’s about 3.6 million dollars, and according to CFO President Brian Fogle, the foundations Mission Related Investment Program, represents its commitment to creating a “Double Bottom Line” of returns.  “We’re there to fill that gap when a non-profit has a need.  Our mission Mike, is to improve the quality of life  in the Ozarks.  We can do that through grants, but we can also do that through direct investments.  We talk about a double bottom line of return, and certainly we get a small investment return, but we also look at a different return, and that is, what is the return to the community.”

For the community in and around Howell County, the return from CFO’s first Mission Related Investment was the July 2010 opening of the new 16 bed Emergency Department at the Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains.  Brian Fogle says CFO’s 1 million dollar low interest loan to OMC helped leverage around 3 million dollars to complete the project:  “We did that with a loan, and we’ve done several others.  And again, these are investments, so we can also look at ownership and do lease purchases, and we’ve done that on a couple of occasions.  The first was to allow Chadwick schools to build a tornado shelter.  That was a successful project.  They’ve now paid us off for that and have a great facility there.  And in Gainesville, If there’s anything plentiful in Ozark County, it’s woodchips.”

Yes woodchips.  Used as a fuel source for a woody bio-mass generator to heat the Gainesville Jr. and Sr. High Schools in Ozark County. The acquisition and upkeep of the system is made possible by federal and state grants, support from the White River Electric Cooperative, and a 1.1 million dollar low interest lease purchase loan through the Mission Related Investment Program.  Bill Looney is Superintendent of the Gainesville R-V School District:  “It went on line right after Thanksgiving, and we’re very pleased with it.  Our old system was a little over 50 years old and consisted of window units, propane heaters, electric heaters, radiant.  It was just an inefficient old failing system.  It takes about 5 dollars to generate a million BTU’s with wood chips.  It takes about 25 dollars using propane, and 26 dollars with electricity.  We did a window and door replacement also, and we figure to save about to thousand dollars a year.”  Which, says CFO’s Brian Fogle, perfectly illustrates the “Double Bottom Line” of returns on CFO’s investment:  “We’re delighted with that.  It’s saving that school district money that can be used elsewhere.  Again we see it as a good investment for us.”

Brian Fogle says a more recent Mission Related Investment is making a difference in the health and safety of Springfield’s homeless youth ages 13-20.  The Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center, a drop-in facility for at risk youth, has outgrown its current location at 215 South Campbell, and is moving west to 301 North Main, to a building purchased by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.  “So we own it and are leasing it to them.  And they’re actually paying us less than they were paying for the existing facility, and it suits their needs much more.  They needed the additional Space.”


Rorie Orgeron is CEO of The Kitchen Inc., which runs the Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center:  “That facility has grown smaller and smaller because of the numbers of youth that continuously come.  We’re seeing more and more displaced youth.  They’re homeless, at risk of being homeless or runaways.   It just keeps growing.  Within the last year or so, we’ve seen the numbers grow from an average of 58 per night to 72 per night.  If they’re hungry they can get something to eat.  We have shower and laundry facilities there.  They can get clothes.  We have a small kitchen there where they can take classes on improving their living skills, and 3 or 4 days a week we hold GED classes in that same facility.”

The Rare Breed is open from 3-11PM Monday-Friday.  It does not provide for overnight stays, and Rorie Orgeron knows that’s a hardship for some:  “That’s really true.  The worst case scenario is with really bad weather and the only place for some is an abandoned building.  Some kids live in tunnels underneath the city.  Some might be in decent shape and are able to do what they call “Couch Surfing” where they stay on a friends couch for a few days and move on to another apartment for a few days more.  Some kids go home, but maybe to a home where there is danger.  There’s a lot of different things involved as to why these kids are in the position they’re in.”

Rorie Orgeron hopes Rare Breed can be moved into the new location sometime in April, and says it wouldn’t be possible without CFO’s Mission Related Investment Program:  “Without the CFO looking for more social return as they are investment return, I don’t know if we could’ve moved into the new building, because the credit has been so tight.” 

For information about the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Mission Related Investment Program, www.cfozarks.org

For KSMU and Making a Difference Where You Live, I’m Mike Smith.