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Real Estate Deals that Make a Difference: Increasing Women’s Access to Prenatal and Postpartum Care

January 17, 2012

This month, we’ll be spotlighting the impact achieved by three Nonprofit Partners as a result of receiving funding through Investing In Communities. Last week, we highlighted the amazing work of Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium. Today, we’ll be learning about another fascinating nonprofit: Centro San Bonifacio. And stay tuned as we share more inspiring tales of real estate deals that make a difference!

Spotlight: Centro San Bonifacio

A Centro San Bonifacio doula holds a happy, healthy baby delivered through the Comadres program.

Ever heard of a doula?  A doula, also known as a birth assistant, provides prenatal and postpartum education and support through a home visit program.  Many experienced doulas provide these services to needy women free of charge. However, hard economic times have encouraged nonprofits like Centro San Bonifacio to consider compensating talented birth assistants. In the current climate, where could a small nonprofit find unrestricted funding with which to provide these stipends?

Enter Investing In Communities. On October 25th, we gave away $42,000 to our Nonprofit Partners at a celebration in downtown Chicago. This philanthropy was generated by a real estate transaction involving an IIC Real Estate Member and Urban Partnership Bank.  By working with an IIC Member, the bank generated $42,000 in charitable funding for eligible nonprofits at no cost to itself. This funding included a $2500 award for Centro San Bonifacio.

This $2500 award from Investing In Communities enabled Centro San Bonifacio to initiate a stipend program for its most talented doulas. We are proud to support the valuable work of these amazing women!


The birth of Centro San Bonifacio itself also stemmed from profound economic change. In 1990, in response to the gentrification sweeping Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, the Archdiocese of Chicago closed St. Boniface, a thriving Hispanic and Polish parish of more than 1200 families. A group of Hispanic families responded to this blow by founding Centro San Bonifacio.

The initial goals of the organization centered on encouraging community solidarity in the face of rapid economic change. Over time, the Centro’s mission evolved to focus on meeting the immediate needs of poor and marginalized families while encouraging personal development and self-sufficiency. This mission eventually engendered the training and mobilization of Promotores de Salud (Community Health Promoters), including doulas.

Centro San Bonifacio’s flagship health promotion program is called “Comadres” or “close female friends. “Comadre” is also translated as “godmother.” The Comadres program is operated by doulas and includes three primary components:

  • Home Visits: Home visits include individual prenatal education, referrals for clinical prenatal care, birth accompaniment service, lactation support, and postpartum care. 
  • Safety Seat Program: As Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians, Centro San Bonifacio doulas distribute infant car seats to families participating in the Comadres program.
  • Good Beginnings Program: The Buen Comienzo (Good Beginnings) course consists of eight two-hour sessions addressing a range of topics including prenatal nutrition, pregnancy danger signs, exercise, infant development, the birth process, breastfeeding, and family planning. These classes also empower women to share crucial health information with other women in their communities.

Thanks to Investing In Communities, doulas will now receive stipends for assisting with the delivery of babies in-need.

Thanks to Centro San Bonifacio’s Comadres program, thousands of low-income Chicago women have received culturally relevant prenatal and postpartum care and education from qualified doulas. And that’s why we’re thrilled that the Centro is now able to offer these doulas small stipends for their priceless work. We hope that businesses like Urban Partnership Bank will continue making their real estate deals make a difference for inspiring nonprofits like Centro San Bonifacio.

Do you want your real estate deal to make a difference for women and infants in need? Are you a nonprofit that would like to receive funds through IIC? Then visit to sign up today as a Real Estate Member, an Individual or Corporate Friend, or a Nonprofit Partner! Do you know someone who should know about IIC? You can tell them with a click!

All photos courtesy of Maria Chavez.

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