After Southern Arizona community leaders determined that a nonprofit loan fund was needed and advisable, the Nonprofit Loan Fund of Tucson and Southern Arizona (NPLF) held its first organizational meeting in April, 2012.

We appointed a board of directors, officers, and a loan committee and the board hired a consultant and an attorney to ensure that NPLF would be a well-governed organization that could deploy investor money wisely. NPLF became a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA).

We are grateful for the foresight of NPLF founders Helaine Levy of the Diamond Foundation, Clint Mabie of Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, and Tony Penn of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. We also appreciate the role Jim Click played in convening early supporters, and CFSA’s back office support was invaluable.

The NPLF board hired Maura Grogan as its first part-time Loan Director in June, 2014. She came with strong banking and nonprofit management experience and significantly expanded NPLF’s marketing, conducted all underwriting and began providing informal ad hoc technical assistance for borrowers and other nonprofits.

Nonprofits appreciate NPLF’s flexibility in providing loans to organizations that traditional lending institutions would not fund. Since its inception in late 2013, NPLF saw a steady growth in both the number of loans it funded, and the pool of investors wanting to provide low-interest money that NPLF then relent to qualified nonprofits. Investors value that their contributions continuously recycled as capital was repaid by one borrower and lent to another, and that NPLF worked closely with borrowers to improve their financial sustainability and expertise.

In 2017, The U.S. Department of the Treasury recognized NPLF as a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). With this certification, NPLF joined more than 500 nonprofit CDFI loan funds across the country committed to providing affordable financing to promote economic and community development in underserved and distressed communities.

In 2018, NPLF formally affiliated as a supporting organization of the Arizona-based nonprofit Business Development Finance Corporation (BDFC), one of the most active community-focused SBA lenders in Arizona. NPLF benefits from BDFC’s nearly four decades in operation, financial strength, and staff trained in the types of lending NPLF does. Through this partnership, NPLF can deploy all the tools and advantages that come with the CDFI certification.

The CDFI designation allows NPLF to expand its reach, influence, credibility and access to capital resources. To reflect this customer and geographic expansion, NPLF changed its name to Growth Partners Arizona (GPAz). We continue to serve nonprofit organizations, but do so statewide, and we’d added loans for businesses that create change in economically distressed areas throughout Arizona to our portfolio of products. In 2019, Maura Grogan retired and GPAz hired Lesli Pintor as the organization’s Executive Director.