Whidbey Community Foundation Provides Bridge Loan to South Whidbey Commons As Part of Its New Impact Investing Initiative, Helping to Reinvigorate a Langley Favorite

South Whidbey Commons Cafe & Books (the Commons), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in downtown Langley on Whidbey Island, recently received a bridge loan from the Whidbey Community Foundation (WCF) as part of WCF’s new impact investing initiative. With the bridge loan, the Commons is building a bold new vision for its café, gathering space(s), workforce development program, and the organization as a whole.

WCF’s mission is to improve the quality of life on Whidbey Island by providing support for the nonprofit sector, assisting donors to build and preserve enduring assets for charitable purposes, and meeting community needs through financial support.

Impact investing uses flexible investments, such as low- or no-interest loans to advance social and environmental solutions to systemic and emerging community needs, such as affordable housing, child care, and climate change. Significant benefits include supporting sustainable community development and recycling philanthropic dollars back into the communities they come from.

In response to post-COVID financial challenges, WCF recently adopted an Impact Investment policy that provides for the use of tax-deductible donations to make loans to local businesses and organizations.

The mission of the Commons is to strengthen community by providing an intentional space for people of all ages and backgrounds to gather, learn and grow. The programs, premises, volunteers, and job-training opportunities are designed to empower community, build skills and competencies, and create connections. A place to meet friends, make new ones, and exchange ideas to build the future of our island community.

“Working with local community partners like Whidbey Community Foundation has been life sustaining for us—enabling us to both fulfill our social impact mission and financial goals,” said the Commons Board President, Wendy Cordova.

In addition to partnering with WCF, the Commons has been working closely with local climate justice organizations Kicking Gas and rePurpose (both fiscally sponsored by regional nonprofit For The People), to develop a sustainable, equitable business plan that becomes an even more dynamic asset to the South Whidbey community and its young people in the years to come, designed to implement updated clean energy, public health, and zero waste measures while upgrading and expanding its unique training program.

This exciting new partnership has plans to announce an innovative capital campaign in the spring that will help pay back the WCF bridge loan and fund this new vision. The objective is to ensure not only that the Commons can continue as a favored, long-standing meeting place in the heart of Langley, but also further evolve its role in the development of South Whidbey’s community, economy, and culture.

According to Steve Shapiro, Treasurer of WCF, “This bridge loan to the Commons has the potential to result in significant positive impact for the local community.  It provides the Commons with short-term capital to reinvent their business model in service to the community. When the loan is paid off, WCF can then redeploy the funds for future loans to other community projects.”

More about the Whidbey Community Foundation (WCF)

WCF connects people who care to causes that matter. WCF was founded in 2016 by long-time local community leaders who understand Whidbey’s needs and strengths and who are committed to making the Foundation a gateway to more meaningful relationships between donors and local nonprofit organizations. Since 2016, WCF has opened 35+ funds and made over 440 grants totaling over $2.54 million for various causes.

More about the South Whidbey Commons Cafe and Books (the Commons)

The Commons’ job-training program for local youth, which is state certified for school credit, creates an experience where they can build functional and teamwork skills in a safe work environment, preparing them for success in the real-world of employment. Many of the trainees are hired for paying positions at the Commons and local businesses. Returning college students earn money and help fill the schedule during busy summer months and school breaks.