The Brief | March 15, 2024

The Week in Impact Investing: Deploy!

The team at


TGIF, Agents of Impact! 

In today’s Brief:

  • Shovel ready for the just transition
  • Upskilling and reskilling Black tech talent
  • Energy transition finance in Indigenous communities

🗣 Shovel readiness. Believe me, we try to spare you as many acronyms as we can. GGRF is one you’re going to want to know in 2024. More than a few Agents of Impact are impatiently waiting to leap onto the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund when the EPA, er, Environmental Protection Agency, awards the first funds any day now. The advent of the (first federal, distributed, virtual) “green bank” is shaping up as the year’s big impact investing story. That’s especially because much of the funding is set to go through CDFIs – community development financial institutions, of course – the local lenders who best know how to make projects happen and businesses thrive in, um, LIDACs, or low-income and disadvantaged communities. That such developments sound bureaucratic and wonky speaks to the broader narrative challenge facing the movement of practical problem-solvers who are hammering out innovative mashups to get sh*t done. This, after all, is the moment to roll out the better, cheaper, cooler, greener 21st century infrastructure upgrade in every community in every neighborhood in every city and town to power the bottom-up revival already underway. It won’t come again.

At ImpactAlpha, we’ve been waiting for this moment as well, covering New Revivalists to The Reconstruction to Muni Impact. We’re bringing our community infrastructure and climate justice coverage together under the banner Deploy! in order to raise the discussion, and the volume. This week, Court Street’s Matt Posner called out the need to leverage the municipal bond market to take the local green buildout to scale. Lourdes Germán of Public Finance Initiative and Urban Institute’s Brett Theodos presented a muni scorecard to ensure such financings advance racial equity and social impact. Impact investors can amplify the green bank funds with loan guarantees and catalytic capital, explained Kresge Foundation’s Aaron Seybert and Jim Baek of the CIGP (that would be the Community Investment Guarantee Pool). And this week’s Deal Spotlight features Indian Energy, which is using a loan guarantee from the LPO (see below) to bring a solar minigrid-plus-storage to the Kumeyaay Nation in southern California. We’ll dig in with climate finance practitioners on next week’s Agents of Impact Call, (RSVP). Deploy! Deploy! Deploy! I admit we do sometimes fall into hyperbole like “unprecedented,” “once in a generation,” “historic opportunity” and the like. But YHIHF: this is a BFD. – David Bank

The Week’s Call

Upskilling and reskilling Black talent for tech’s next wave (video). The gold rush of 2020 gave way to the pink slips of 2023. Nearly a quarter-million tech workers were laid off last year as companies cut talent and corrected their aggressive hiring from early in the pandemic. But the rise of artificial intelligence and continued digitization of all things means technology jobs will continue to be a path to prosperity for millions of people. Access to those jobs has historically been less than equitable, a topic that ImpactAlpha contributing editor Sherrell Dorsey took up with Google’s Rachelle Olden, who leads the company’s Tech Equity Collective. With $1 million each year, the collective has backed nonprofits like America On Tech, ColorStack and DevColor to help underrepresented groups gain access to tech training and jobs. “You don’t have to be a certain age. You don’t always have to have this specific skill set,” Olden told Dorsey. “We want to make sure that we are creating a variety of pathways into this space.”

The Week’s Short Signals

💚 Going green. Federal clean energy and transportation incentives, grants and loans totaled $34 billion in the 2023 fiscal year. Households and businesses took advantage of $8.3 billion in tax credits for green energy, storage and heat pumps, and another $6.2 billion for electric vehicles. (Clean Investment Monitor)

🔻 Energy emissions. Global energy emissions increased 1.1% in 2023 to hit a record high, but growth slowed from 1.3% growth in 2022. If it were not for droughts across the globe that throttled hydropower, emissions would have fallen as clean energy additions outpaced fossil fuels. (IEA)

Impact investors ❤️the creative economy. India’s Upaya Social Ventures, the Impact Fund for African Creators, Colombia’s Coolture Investments and US-based Upstart Co-Lab are among the “culture and creative impact funds” cited in Deloitte’s latest “Art and Finance” report. (Deloitte)

🏦 Hybrid structure. The African Development Bank has pioneered a hybrid capital structure that is interest-bearing but equity-like in its capital stack seniority to help multilateral development banks expand lending in their target markets. AfDB’s $750 million hybrid capital issue at the end of January was oversubscribed by $6 billion. (CGD)

🌆 Climate-resilient cities. With more than two-thirds of the global population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, BMW Group’s MINI, like IBM, are supporting accelerators to find AI-powered climate solutions for resilient cities. (Urban-X)

The Week’s Deal Spotlight

Tribal community gets Energy Department loan guarantee for solar + storage. The future of energy access runs through locally-led and inclusive businesses, ImpactAlpha wrote this week. Indigenous-owned renewable energy developers in the US are getting their first cut of capital from a dedicated funding pool for tribal communities under the Inflation Reduction Act. Up to 14% of Native households living on tribal lands in the US lack access to electricity, according to the most recent federal survey (which is 24 years old). The US Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office is providing a partial guarantee of up to $72.8 million to Indian Energy for a solar mini-grid plus storage project to serve the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians near Alpine, Calif. It’s the first commitment from the $20 billion federal Tribal Energy Financing Program, which provides direct loans and guarantees to tribal entities for clean energy projects.

  • Just transition. Recognizing the need to support tribal communities in the green transition, the Biden administration added $18 billion to the 32-year-old program. The administration earlier this month also announced more than $72 million to 21 tribal entities through the Tribal Electrification Program. The funding will support clean energy project development and electricity distribution to off-grid homes. The Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative aims for 40% of federal climate investments to benefit underserved and disadvantaged communities.
  • Co-investors. Federal funding is catalytic. Investors that co-invested with the Loan Programs Office since its inception would have seen a 10% internal rate of return across the portfolio; the top-quartile of deals would have returned 23%, according to an investor pitch deck shared by LPO chief Jigar Shah. The IRA’s tax credits, grants and loans “are focused on triggering a tsunami of private sector financing for commercial deployment of clean energy technologies” by 2030, says the LPO. The lending arm of the Energy Department employs an armada of risk assessors; the loss rate on the $39 billion in loans and guarantees it has extended is just 3.1%.
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The Week’s Talent and Jobs

💼See and share more than two dozen impact jobs posted this week. View dozens more jobs on our job board. Want to post a listing? Submit it here.

Pam Dippel Choney, a retired investment management professional, became Social Finance’s board chair… Low Carbon Investment Management named Annabel Wiscarson, previously with IFM Investors, as CEO of its investment management arm… Eliza Erikson, formerly with Omidyar Network and Calvert Impact Capital, joined Brown Advisory as partner and head of impact investing and advice… RUNWAY’s Jessica Norwood joined Potlikker Capital’s investment committee. 

Hannah DeAlto, formerly with One Earth Future Foundation, joined Impact Charitable as controller… Jonathan Rose Companies promoted Brandon Kearseto to partner and Carolyn Au to chief operating officer… Oogway Capital’s Hanson Gong joined the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth North America as a board member… Victoria Stark, previously with Investec Bank, joined Blue Earth Capital as fund controller. 

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend. 

– March 15, 2024