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Updating with an LCEF SMART Loan


Living Word Lutheran High School in Jackson, Wisconsin, turned to Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) for a SMART Loan when it was time to update, upgrade and polish their space to serve their mission of growing their students in the faith. 

“We had a mortgage with LCEF from the initial building of the school, and they’ve worked with us all this time as partners in ministry,” said David Miskimen, executive director of Living Word. “But when I heard about the SMART Loan from LCEF South Wisconsin District Vice President Diana Raasch, I thought, ‘Why wouldn’t people take advantage of this? It’s an interest-free loan for the first year, and we serve a God of abundance, not of scarcity!” 

The school’s boilers were in rough shape, and their air conditioning was out completely, so a project needed to be done. Miskimen explained that, while they felt confident that they could raise the money, the work needed to get done right away.

LCEF’s SMART Loans for educational institutions are designed exactly for this purpose–to help meet the short-term financial needs of LCMS elementary, middle and high school associations and related recognized service organizations (RSOs).

The process was easy and painless for Living Word, and they were able to make the necessary repairs right away so that they wouldn’t miss a beat.

“When we reached out to Dan [Brown] I thought it was almost too easy,” explained Miskimen. “I wasn’t even sure what the interest rates were [for the SMART Loans] because we never intended to come up short. The idea of not achieving didn’t occur to me.”

After they’d paid off their loan early–just one short year later–another opportunity arose for making Living Word Lutheran look its best. They decided to do an “extreme makeover” of the school, including remodeling the bathrooms and locker rooms, expanding and repaving the parking lot and caring for other “facelift” projects around the campus.

Once again, an LCEF SMART Loan was in order.

“The second time around was a little more fun,” Miskimen said. “A 20-year-old building meant 20 years of wear and tear, so we thought we’d get another project done in the off season when there is less traffic there on campus.”

Using SMART Loan dollars, the school took care of the necessary work and then made paying for it the focus of their upcoming auction season.

“It was an easy sell!” said Miskimen.

And once again, they were able to pay off the loan quite early.

“Living Word Lutheran School has utilized Smart Loans multiple times and for various reasons,” shared Dan Brown, vice president of national lending at LCEF. “[Miskimen’s] goal was to find a way to do the projects in the most cost-efficient way and retire the debt early to maximize cash flow. It’s a smart use of the SMART Loan!”