The Brief | February 1, 2021

The Brief: The Reconstruction, investing for climate justice, criminal justice reform, utility-scale solar, honest IPO

The team at


Greetings, Agents of Impact! 

Featured: The Reconstruction

Learning from history to create opportunities for equitable wealth-building now (podcast). Talk about a signal. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 kicked off the period of systemic reform, multi-racial progress and shared prosperity we know as Reconstruction. Sending her own signal, Melissa Bradley founded 1863 Ventures to accelerate and invest in Black and Brown founders. Contributing editor Monique Aiken invited Bradley to be the first guest on ImpactAlpha’s new podcast series, The Reconstruction. “We wanted to signal and reclaim our opportunity as Black and Brown folks to create wealth,” Bradley tells Aiken. “It was a great way to reclaim our power as a community of color and to signal to the world that we are clear about what we can contribute.”

The Reconstruction series will engage investors, entrepreneurs, activists and academics “to inspire us as we move capital toward justice,” as Aiken puts it in her introduction to the series. The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, among other leaders and scholars, calls the current period a third Reconstruction (the second being the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s). “The first Reconstruction was a time of great promise and extraordinary achievement by newly free Black people in all dimensions of life,” Aiken explains. That history is important, Bradley agrees, to show “where have we found opportunities of coexistence and equitable wealth-building and wealth creation in communities. Because we have seen it.” The white supremacist backlash that followed Reconstruction is often what’s remembered, says Aiken – a legacy of those that sought to control the historical narrative. “But we resonate with the possibilities – and the possibility that this time the outcome will be different.”

Keep reading, and listen in to, “Learning from history to create opportunities for equitable wealth-building now,” the first episode in ImpactAlpha’s new podcast series, The Reconstruction.

  • Welcome to The Reconstruction. In a brief audio clip, host Monique Aiken introduces the series and lays out some core principles of this Reconstruction. Tune in.
  • On the beat. Find episodes of The Reconstruction podcast, and all of ImpactAlpha’s coverage of racial justice and inclusive prosperity, on our new landing page.

Solving for climate justice is giving these Black investors an edge in the green economy. The design mandate for the green economy: Develop better and cleaner solutions that create jobs, improve health and drive demonstrably better outcomes for communities that have borne the brunt of pollution and climate change. That is, solve for climate justice and you solve for the environment – and for justice. A growing network of Black investors, entrepreneurs and operators is using their proximity to communities and their own lived experience to build companies at the center of the Venn diagram of urgent challenges. “These businesses are designed for everyone and deserve full funding and full support,” says Nneka Uzoh of California-based cleantech accelerator Elemental Excelerator. The strategy got an endorsement from President Joe Biden last week: “Lifting up these communities makes us all stronger as a nation, and increases the health of everybody.”

  • Inclusion alpha. Climate investing “is more than just a moral cause, but rather a public health issue, an economic issue, and a social justice issue,” says Taj Ahmad-Eldridge of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. Eldridge worked with electric car sharing service Envoy to expand its market beyond residents of luxury apartment complexes to residents of a housing development targeted at low and moderate income families in L.A.’s Pacoima neighborhood.
  • Black green. Uzoh last month founded Greentech Noir to provide a platform for Black professionals pushing for systems change in sustainability and climate tech. Founding members include Eldridge, along with Christian Okoye of Emerson Collective, Amy Duffuor of Prime Coalition, UtilityAPI’s Devin Hampton, and Elemental’s Jamila Jarmon and Danielle Harris
  • Justice lens. Entrepreneurs who are putting underserved communities at the center of their models include Kameale Terry and Evette Ellis of the electric vehicle charger servicing company ChargerHelp in South Los Angeles; Paul Francis of EV charger KIGT; and Donnel Baird of Brooklyn-based energy technology startup Bloc Power
  • Keep reading, “Solving for climate justice is giving these Black investors an edge in the green economy,” by Dennis Price on ImpactAlpha.

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative spins off criminal justice reform activities. The private, mission-focused company launched by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan is allocating $350 million to the Justice Accelerator Fund, a new organization that will take over CZI’s work in criminal justice reform and expand support for community health and racial and economic equity efforts. 

  • Commitment. “We are committed to ensuring that racial equity is reflected across our grantmaking,” and ensuring that “Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color have a stake in CZI’s initiatives and a voice in guiding them,” Chan and Zuckerberg wrote in their annual letter.
  • Immigration reform. CZI is also making a $100 million grant to, the immigration and criminal justice reform advocacy group launched by Zuckerberg and Chan in 2013. Its work includes advocating for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy that protects undocumented individuals brought to the U.S. as children.
  • Read on.

Circuit Clinical raises $500,000 for COVID-19 tests and medical research. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based company supports clinical trials for medical research initiatives, including a saliva-based COVID-19 test. It received the early-stage funding from the Western New York Impact Investment Fund

Intersect power raises $600 million to expand utility-scale solar in the U.S. Solar power is the fastest-growing energy sector in the U.S. San Francisco-based Intersect Power has developed 1.7 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power since 2015. The company raised $127 million in equity financing from Climate Adaptive Infrastructure and Trilantic North America, and $482 million in debt from Generate Capital and CarVal Investors (listen to ImpactAlpha’s podcast with Generate’s Jigar Shah, “Deployment, deployment, deployment are keywords for sustainable infrastructure in 2021“). Read on.

Jessica Alba’s Honest Co. files for IPO. The natural baby products company is finally seeking to go public, Bloomberg reports, after years of ups and downs, anticipated public offerings, changes in leadership and bids to be acquired. 

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Stephanie Cohn Rupp is the new CEO at Veris Wealth Partners. Founder Patricia Farrar-Rivas, who led Veris for 13 years, remains chair of the partner group and senior wealth manager… Carlos Rangel, who leads the expanding equity work at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is promoted to Kellogg’s vice president and chief investment officer. Outgoing CIO Joel Wittenberg retired at the end of January… Jane Henderson will retire this year as president and CEO of Virginia Community Capital… Keitha Pansy, ex- of BlackRock, joins Women of the World Endowment as managing director… KKS Advisors seeks a manager of ESG and sustainability in Boston… Raven Indigenous Capital Partners is looking for an Indigenous impact analyst in Vancouver.

Thank you for your impact.

– Feb. 1, 2021