Community foundations embrace mission-related investing to boost local impact. In 30 years at the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Brenda Hunt has seen the ups and downs of the small city in southwest Michigan. In 2013, vacancies dotted downtown years after the Great Recession. She saw entrepreneurship, small business ownership and a vibrant local economy as the keys to recovery. “This was not something we could grant our way out of,” Hunt says. The community foundation ventured into impact investing with loans and financing for small downtown businesses. An increasing number of the more than 900 community foundations across the US are making mission-related investments to boost their impact and build local ecosystems, Andrea Riquier reports for ImpactAlpha. “Even folks who historically had a separation between program officers and investment officers have started bridging that wall,” says David Sand of Community Capital Management, which is out with a report that explores community foundations’ adoption of mission-aligned investing.
Dealflow: Muni Impact
San Diego school bond targets green improvements and equitable access. A $320 million bond issuance by the San Diego Unified School District aims to invest in environmental sustainability across the district while increasing equitable access to education for the majority of its students who are economically disadvantaged. HIP Investor gives the bonds’ environmental and social impact objectives a rating of 79.7 on a scale of 100, putting SDUSD in the top 3% of more than 18,000 K-12 entities rated by HIP. ImpactAlpha is featuring SDUSD’s bonds as part of our ongoing series with HIP Investor to highlight bond issues with social and/or environmental significance.
Impact Voices: Inclusive Infrastructure
Investing in ‘meaningful connectivity’ to a better Internet in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Experts once talked about less developed countries “leapfrogging” more developed countries thanks to mobile phones. The past few years have seen the limits of the leapfrog beyond digital payments and basic communications. Only a privileged few have affordable access to high-speed Internet. “Mobile operators are drip-feeding the Internet, when we need an open flow of information and access,” BenMatranga and Jim Forster of Connectivity Capital write in a guest post. “The real opportunity for change comes when people have uncapped, always-on broadband Internet access.” Connecting most households in Africa, Asia and Latin America with fixed infrastructure will require meaningful investment in broadband, Matranga and Forster say. “It’s all a cause for the creation of connectivity as a new and central category in impact investing.”
Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent
Cynthia Herrera, a former climate justice fellow with University of Maryland, joins Green & Healthy Homes Initiative as senior director of climate, energy and equity… B Lab is hiring a head of business and finance transformation… Soros Fund Management is looking for an impact strategy senior analyst in New York… In London: Big Society Capital seeks a policy and advocacy manager in London; Opportunity International is recruiting an innovative finance manager; and bp has an opening for a sustainability and ESG finance advisor.