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Getting smarter about place-based investing



ImpactAlpha, June 3 – A set of briefs from Urban Institute and Mission Investors Exchange round up the ‘tricks of the trade’ in local investing. Among the highlights: need and opportunity maps in Minneapolis-St. Paul and New Mexico; collaborative investment efforts in Buffalo and Chicago; and coordinated ecosystems in Michigan and Baltimore.

“Place-based impact investing is no longer a solo endeavor for many foundations across the United States,” write MIE’s Melanie Audette, MacArthur Foundation’s John Balbach and Urban’s Shena Ashley. “Foundations are increasingly joining and leading cross-sector efforts to invest in the communities at the heart of their mission.”

Capital gaps in New York state. The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo anchored the Western New York Impact Investment Fund. The fund has raised $8 million from philanthropists, corporations and private individuals to boost the supply of impact capital in the region. Key to the effort: A Heron Foundation-funded study that confirmed capital gaps.

Value-add in Chicago. Approximately $65 million in investments from Chicago Community Trust and MacArthur Foundation helped Benefit Chicago raise an additional $31 million from individuals and other institutions for Chicago nonprofits and social ventures. The collaboration has deployed or approved $53 million in investments to more than a dozen organizations that wouldn’t have been made “but for” the initiative.

On-ramps in Michigan. Collaborative efforts anchored by the Kellogg Foundation led to the $30 million Michigan Good Food Fund, which has lent more than $10 million to “good food” enterprises that benefit underserved communities. The Council of Michigan Foundations has mobilized $44 million in foundation investments for Michigan by providing education, legal resources and economies of scale for its member organizations.

Entrepreneurs in Baltimore. The Annie E. Casey Foundation discovered local entrepreneurs lacked capacity to receive investment. AECF mobilized Baltimore Community Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Abell Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, and PNC Bank for the Baltimore Small Business Support Fund to support community development finance institutions and small-business technical assistance providers serving people of color in Baltimore.

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