Members of the CFO’s Funders Forum toured The Fairbanks this week to get a first-hand look at the progress being made to renovate the 110-year-old school building into a neighborhood center for the Grant Beach area in northwest Springfield.
Amy Blansit, who purchased the building and is the visionary behind its development, took about 30 people on a tour of the building Tuesday to show how it’s being converted into office space, a day care center, a commercial-grade kitchen, a resource library, a shared conference and “headquarters” space for tenants, and a large multipurpose room she calls the “cafegymatorium” in the space that served those functions for the school.
The Funders Forum is a quarterly meeting to share information and education on community issues with local private and public foundations, CFO donor advisors, and other funding leaders. Occasionally, the meetings include a field trip, like this week’s to The Fairbanks. The CFO recently closed a mission-related loan to help complete the financing to finish The Fairbanks project. The CFO’s MRI program offers below-market rate loans to close gaps and leverage other financing for nonprofit projects with a public purpose.
The visit also offered the opportunity to hear updates from United Way of the Ozarks President Debi Meeds, Community Partnership of the Ozarks Executive Director Janet Dankert, and CPO Community Development Specialist David Greer about resources being directed to northwest Springfield. The City of Springfield is making a concerted effort to address issues like substandard housing, public safety and infrastructure improvements in this area. Meanwhile, the CFO, with support from the Stanley and Elaine Ball Foundation and the Musgrave Foundation, is accepting proposals for a large-scale grant-funded project to pilot strategies to help families.
For more information about The Northwest Project, visit: cfozarks.org/northwest.