Aunt Leah's Set to Envision Growth

Impact Investing

Since 1907, Central City Foundation has provided help and hope to the most vulnerable people in Vancouver’s inner city. Central City is a $36 million foundation with approximately 40 per cent of its assets invested right here in our community –in social purpose real estate that provides significant community benefit and generates financial returns.

When we invest in social purpose real estate, the idea is to not just help organizations survive, but to help them thrive. We know Aunt Leah’s has a good home and long tenure – this gives them good information to plan for the long-term and allows them to build for the future. This allows organizations to get out of a place of scarcity and to envision growth and innovation that is leading to better programs and greater impact on young people.
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Jennifer Johnstone, President and CEO of Central City Foundation

Back in 2012, Central City Foundation approached Vancity and Vancity Community Foundation about financing the purchase of a building in New Westminster. Central City Foundation was interested in providing a low cost lease option to a local non-profit, Aunt Leah’s. Using its core endowment, Vancity Community Foundation provided Central City Foundation with a patient loan in the form of a program related investment as part of a larger financing package, making the purchase feasible. In turn, Central City Foundation was able to lease the space on 20th Street to Aunt Leah’s at a below market rate.

Aunt Leah’s was then able to expand much-needed programs and the building provided a new home for young mothers and their children as well as space for their social enterprise thrift store.

More recently, Aunt Leah’s found themselves facing large rent increases at their head office in downtown New Westminster. Through a series of subsequent investments and renovations, they have been able to relocate their offices and other offsite programming into the building on 20th Street, saving thousands of dollars in rent. This savings and security has allowed Aunt Leah’s to take more risk, develop innovative programs, and build their capacity which means they are a stronger organization today; able to do even more work in support of new moms and kids in foster care.