ImpactAlpha Open | April 30, 2024

ImpactAlpha Open: Impact investments in AI + climate capital at family offices

Dennis Price

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ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

Greetings, Agents of Impact! Welcome to the latest ImpactAlpha Open, our free weekly newsletter with the top news and opportunities in impact investing and sustainable finance.

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In this week’s Open:

  • Impact investments in AI
  • Deploying solar for all
  • Climate investments at family offices
  • Building Black wealth with vertical farm franchises (podcast)

Ok, let’s get to it. – Dennis Price

Must-reads on ImpactAlpha

  • Impact investments in AI. With an investment in Open AI competitor Anthropic, the Omidyar Network and the Ford and Nathan Cummings foundations are bringing an impact lens to the AI table, reports David BankRead more.
    • Responsible innovation. Guest authors Lyel Resner and Wilneida Negrón see the move as a signal of impact investor interest in responsible innovation in tech. Hear them out.
  • Deploying solar for all. The US Environmental Protection Agency announced $7 billion in Solar for All grants to states, municipalities, Tribal entities and nonprofits, reports Amy Cortese. The awards cover every region of the US, from Alaska to Guam. Read more.
    • GGRF rollout. A handful of groups are developing tools to help new and existing lenders and project developers with the deployment of the historic Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund funding. Get up to speed.
  • Family offices warm to climate investing. The more than 4,500 family offices globally that manage $6 trillion in wealth are poised to play a critical role in getting philanthropic and investment dollars off the sidelines and into climate solutions, writes Bruce McNamer of Builders Initiative, the grant and catalytic investment arm of Walmart heir Lukas Walton’s Builders Vision.See how.
  • Carbon credit kerfuffle. Adebate over carbon credits has roiled the Science Based Targets Initiative, highlighting tensions between policy pragmatism, big money donors and “science-based” climate strategies, reports Louie WoodallSort it out.
  • Foundation child-lens investing. Impact investments can help fix a broken child care system by helping providers build facilities and parents find day care, writes Essma Bengabsia of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Read more.
    • Racial equity. Kids also need renewable energy, affordable housing and racial equity, as Kellogg Foundation’s Cynthia Muller points out in her reflections on lessons learned from the foundation’s $310 million in mission-driven investments. Study up.
  • Indexing decarceration. There is an “alpha in impact” opportunity in helping reintegrate citizens returning from prison, I reported. FreeCap Financial is helping investors identify companies with fair chance hiring practices in their new “decarceration index.” Check it out.

Agents of Impact

🌱 Trenton Allen, Sustainable Capital Advisors: Bringing green infrastructure to Black and Brown communities (Q&A)

Networks of nonprofit lenders are looking to seed green projects in low- and middle-income communities by leveraging the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that is part of the US Inflation Reduction Act. For-profit companies are playing a role as well. Washington, DC-based Sustainable Capital Advisors, founded by finance industry veteran Trenton Allen, helped the Justice Climate Fund and other organizations craft their strategies for the federal funds.  They “already know how to do the hardest part, which is lending and capital deployment and underwriting,” he says. “The green piece is just another type of project or project activity.” 

🏃🏾‍♀️ People on the move

  • Candace Dodson-Reed, previously with the University of Maryland Baltimore County, joins the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative as chief of staff.
  • Nick Moon, previously with LeapFrog Investments, joins Circulate Capital as its new chair.
  • Andrea Longton’s book, “The Social Justice Investor,” is out.

The Week’s Podcasts

Host Brian Walsh takes up ImpactAlpha’s top stories with editor David BankUp this week: the opportunities for family offices to invest in the climate transition; three leading foundations’ investment in responsible AI; and the debate over the changing approach to carbon credits as a path to net zero. Bonus: Audio highlights from 10 years of ImpactAlpha. 

  • Listen to the new episode of This Week in ImpactGet the podcast in your feed by subscribing on Apple or Spotify. While you’re there, leave us a rating and review.
  • Agents of Impact. Zarû Systems CEO Loren Taylor has the ambitious goal of building a billion dollars in Black wealth in eight years through 1,000 businesses worth at least $1 million each. “We’re focused on bridging the racial wealth gap – unapologetically,” Taylor says. Zarû’s first business application: modular, turnkey indoor farms run by local owner-operators. Read more and listen now.

Short Signals: What We’re Reading

🦋 Private market biodiversity funds. Phenix Capital tallies more than 1,000 impact funds with some focus on biodiversity, a 234% increase from 2015. More than half are open for investment. An estimated $1 trillion in annual investment by 2030 is needed to support critical ecosystems. (Phenix Capital)

💸 Tax credit transferability. The US Treasury Department and IRS finalized rules for businesses, nonprofits and governments looking to transfer their clean energy tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act and other recent laws. (US Treasury

⚖️ Standing up for DEI, ESG and impact investing. Adasina Social Capital has launched The Freedom Economy network to provide legal resources and support for investors in solutions for racial and economic injustice. (Adasina)

🐄 Sustainable food systems. One-quarter of global food companies recognize “the need to reduce reliance on animal-sourced foods and allow for higher welfare as part of a sustainable food system,” according to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare’s latest report. (BBFAW)

☀️🦆 Duck curve in Texas. Texas is adding 35% more solar power capacity year over year, leading to the emergence of a “duck curve” pattern similar to the one seen in California: high solar production during the day causes demand for natural gas to plummet, until peak evening hours when it rises sharply, only to fall again at night. The resulting graph resembles a sitting duck. (Power Engineering)

Get in the Game

💼 Step up

  • Platinum Pacific Partner seeks a responsible investing and impact manager in Sydney, Australia.
  • Beneficial Returns is hiring a credit analyst for a remote role.
  • The American Bird Conservancy is looking for an impact investing officer.

Visit ImpactAlpha’s Career Hub for more impact investing jobs. Contact us for job posting rates.

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