ImpactAlpha, Oct. 18 – Rodney Foxworth moved from Baltimore to Oakland, Calif. nearly two years ago to lead the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE. He was overtaken with numbness and heartache with this week’s death of his hometown Rep. Elijah Cummings. “Baltimore exemplifies the story of America in the 21st century,” Foxworth told ImpactAlpha. “My hometown is beset by post-industrialization, systemic anti-black racism, racialized mass incarceration, segregation, economic dislocation, and poverty, as are communities across the country.”
In Oakland, Foxworth found many of the same challenges, but also gentrification, wealth, and inequality. “I was also entering the so-called hub of technology and innovation, including impact investing, an emerging field that continues to fall short of its vast potential to redress the most urgent challenges that affect society today, challenges that are deeply apparent in Baltimore, Oakland, and San Francisco.” BALLE’s new name reflects both that challenge and opportunity.
“Stepping into Common Future allows us to really think a lot bigger than the organization has in the past,” he says.
In Baltimore, Foxworth spearheaded social and economic development initiatives, including co-founding Impact Hub Baltimore and launching Invested Impact, which advises investors interested in funding local changemakers. He is positioning Common Future as a platform for on-the-ground experts (BALLE’s network of local fellows) who can help investors effectively deploy their capital for impact, including in opportunity zones.
Foxworth, a BALLE fellow himself, is keen to demonstrate that his fellow fellows’ disruptive ideas—from new funding models for entrepreneurs of color to rural economic development initiatives—are ready for scale.
That’s a fitting tribute to Rep. Cummings. “He was defiant but diplomatic; bold but meticulous; visionary but grounded,” Foxworth says. “We need to bring these lessons in leadership to the world of impact investing, and remember to always speak truth to power.”