Bon Secours Health System Inc. (BSHSI), one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country, has invested $1.6 million in Calvert Foundation, a nonprofit that provides low-interest loans to help underserved communities that lack access to traditional financial services.

BSHSI, a $2.6 billion not-for-profit employing more than 20,000 people in seven states, wants to help several communities where they have a strong presence, such as Baltimore, New York City, and Richmond, Va., as well as impoverished communities in developing countries, such as Peru. BSHSI is targeting its investment to support loans to groups such as: Seedco, which runs a welfare-to-work program in New York City; Enterprise Community Partners, which provides affordable housing in Baltimore; Consolidated Bank & Trust, which invests in community facilities in such places as Richmond and Hampton Roads, Va.; and Peru-based Edyficar, which provides microfinance services to help those who are poor and marginalized pull themselves out of poverty.

BSHSI is supporting organizations whose work aligns with BSHSI's mission to help those in need and the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

"We were looking for a way to make a difference in these difficult times, and still make smart decisions with our own assets," said Richard J. Statuto, president and CEO of BSHSI. "Access to credit is critical in today's economic environment, and this investment allows us to preserve capital and receive a modest return while accomplishing our social mission."

"Investors may be pulling money out of the stock market, but they are still putting it into their communities and other communities in need around the nation and world," said Shari Berenbach, president and CEO of Calvert Foundation." Despite troubled financial markets and a deepening recession, we've continued to grow since we've relied on old fashioned financial rigor and the discipline of the nonprofits we loan to. I applaud Bon Secours for investing where it counts-into the overall health of the communities they serve," she said.

BSHSI made this investment through Calvert Foundation's Community Investment Note, a product that straddles philanthropy and investment, providing a way for investors to earn a financial and social return. The note is available for terms of one to 10 years and at rates of 0 to 3%.

Bon Secours Health System, headquartered in Marriottsville, Md., a $2.6 billion not-for-profit Catholic health system, owns, manages or joint ventures 18 acute-care hospitals, one psychiatric hospital, five nursing care facilities, five assisted living facilities, and 15  home care and hospice programs. Bon Secours' more than 20,000 employees help people in seven states, primarily on the East Coast.