In the last year, two unique opportunities brought the potential to drive significant new investment in cities across the country. First, Amazon announced their search for a second corporate headquarters (“HQ2”) which is projected to employ up to 50,000 employees over the next fifteen years. More than 238 cities and regions submitted proposals, and 20 candidate cities (including Philadelphia) were ultimately selected by Amazon to compete in a next phase. Amazon eventually decided to split its second headquarters into two locations and chose New York and Northern Virginia for its next stages of growth.
In pursuit of deeper impacts, social sector investors have begun to explore different permutations of Program Related Investments. Intermediaries play an important role in facilitating PRI loan funds however, this often raises the cost of capital to a price equal to or exceeding market rates. Direct PRI loans could unlock significant savings yielding new programmatic investment, financial stability, and ultimately, deeper impact.
When BlackRock CEO Larry Fink proclaimed in his annual letter in January that, "To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society," he says he wasn't doing it "to be en vogue," or, as Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. wrote, to "buy indulgences" with the public. "We're trying to improve the performance of our clients," Fink said at The New York Times DealBook Conference in New York on Thursday. He also predicted that in the near future, all investors will be using ESG (environmental, social, governance) metrics to determine the value of a company.
Help the Philly Impact Ecosystem “show up” by participating in the annual Social Enterprise Ecosystem Survey led by Halcyon. In past years, this survey has identified Philly as a top social impact center nationally and has recognized ImpactPHL as a “best practice” for other cities to model. Deadline is December 31st.
This story begins in 2002 in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Clemens and a small group of colleagues saw the need to create a conscious and sustainable world through engaged philanthropy and had the vision to align practice with purpose – at the individual level, in the community, and on a global scale.
CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The organization runs a mobile tour nation-wide called the “Check Your Blind Spots” experience. This mobile tour visited FS Investments in early November, as they join the over 500 organizations working with CEO Action in order to hold conversations and address diversity issues in an interactive way.
Recent studies have shown that faith-based organizations have been more and more frequently investing in socially and environmentally impactful organizations. Apart from their traditional charitable works in their communities, these organizations are beginning to utilize the power of the funds they have invested in order to create change in the world around them. John O’Shaughnessy, CEO and CFO of Franciscan Sisters of Mary, says “We no longer wanted to invest in things that were adding to the problem,” and have since divested from investments they deemed counterproductive and invested in ones that more closely match their values.
A new clause has been added to the Delaware statute governing authorized investments for trusts. The language allows for the personal values of the beneficiary to be a guideline for the investments made by the fiduciaries on the beneficiaries’ behalf. This marks another step in the movement for value-based investing as an industry standard. Time will tell what impact the new clause will have on the investsments of these trusts, and if it will effectively encourage the growth of impact investing.
During the “Gilded Age”, Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest Americans to have ever lived, shared his thoughts on philantrhopy and how it should be carried out. Today is known as the “Second Gilded Age”, where the super wealthy are able to give large sums to causes of their choosing and recieve large tax breaks in return. With the legal definition of philanthropic organzation being murky at best, how can we be sure that the growing amount of money being funneled into more and more foundations are actually socially beneficial?
Are you ready to solve problems in Philadelphia? We are. That’s why we’re bringing urban thinkers from around the country to Philadelphia for our inaugural Ideas We Should Festival on November 30th—get your tickets here. And that’s why we’re thrilled to announce the Jeremy Nowak Urban Innovation Award, a $50,000 prize to launch one of those ideas in Philly.
“Many startups fund their earliest days with money from friends and family, as well as angels. But what if your friends and family are not wealthy—and, in fact, are more on the struggling side of the equation?” Village Capital hopes to have an answer to that with their new program, VC Pathways. The new endeavour looks to target organizations founded by African American, Latino, and female entrepreneurs that are not ready yet for their typical three month program, but have a promising prototype or pilot. The goal is to provide avenues to venture capital and industry knowledge to demographics who may not have those opportunities otherwise.
54.46% in poverty
209 deaths from overdoses in 2017
These are the sobering statistics of Harrowgate, a Kensington neighborhood north of Lehigh Avenue, that is only 15 minutes north of Center City on the Market-Frankford subway line, and three subway stops away from Fishtown – “the hottest neighborhood” in the United States according to Forbes magazine.
45 impact investors, researchers and others recently met to discuss the role of philanthropy and foundations in creating an “impact economy”. According to the report, creating such a business paradigm requires that philanthropies step up their game. The reason: a paucity of early-stage and seed capital, a gap philanthropies could play a major role in filling. That, in turn, could help attract other funding.
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the University City Science Center have partnered to launch the Global Startup Accelerator - a six-month program for early-stage tech startups that have an interest in entering international markets. Participants receive: Insight into business and business growth opportunities in the European market; Access to VCs and potential funding sources; Direct connections to mentors, partners and customers; and the opportunity to pitch European partners at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia on June 3-6, 2019.
Help shine the spotlight on and give some deserved recognition to social changemakers in your community! The Social Innovations Journal is looking for publicly nominated movers and shakers in the Greater Philadelphia Area that have shown great leadership and creativity in helping to solve the challenges that our community faces on a daily basis. The theme of this year’s awards "Innovating Ideas, Revolutionizing Realities," expresses the idea that the SIJ is looking for some out of the box approaches to these challenges. If you know someone or a group that embodies that vision, please nominate them today. Nominations are due by October 5th so don’t delay!
What comes after innovation? As CEO of Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners, an organization charged with catalyzing the Philadelphia region's entrepreneurial and innovation economy, I've struggled with this question. It was 2001 when I began to follow the emerging national narrative around impact, marked by Harvard Business Review's January 2001 issue: Ideas with Impact - an issue I still have to this day. In it, an article by Charles Handy entitled "Tocqueville Revisited: The Meaning of American Prosperity." revisits Tocqueville's journey, but focuses on capitalism instead of democracy. Handy writes of the need for "new capitalism" and discusses American Nobel Prize Winner Robert Fogel's optimism that "a new sense of purpose…will be at the heart of the next stage of capitalism." The idea resonated with me then and stayed with me over time.
Out of step with the rest of America and its own suburbs, Philadelphia has remained stubbornly mired in poverty while its median household income has plummeted, a stunning development that puzzles experts and belies the city’s self-styled image as a revitalized metropolis on the rise. Two reports from the U.S. Census Bureau released recently show that as poverty has declined and income has increased nationwide, Philadelphia’s poverty rate remained stuck at around 25%.
Is it enough for a business to try to do good? Or, should we also be demanding that businesses do no harm? At stake in the answer is the future of the American workforce—and, perhaps, America itself. This is the issue bestselling author Anand Giridharadas and B Lab’s co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert debated on Thursday night, at The Citizen’s sold-out event. If you weren’t there, you can listen to a recording of the discussion.
After launching a $36 million fund earlier this year to help support black female founders, Backstage Capital announced it was launching accelerators in four cities including Philadelphia, which served as location inspiration for the effort. "When Philadelphia is thinking about what it means to become a tech city, it’s not about 'how do we retrofit this Silicon Valley model, but more so how do we use technology to do what Philadelphia does best,' said Aniyia Williams of Tinsel and Black & Brown Founders, who was onstage with Hamilton."
Supporting locally owned and operated businesses does more than just patronize that specific establishment, but can have a much wider effect in local neighborhoods. This is know as the “local multiplying effect” and Anna Shipp of the Philadelphia Business journal posits that this local-first attitude could be the method by which Philadelphia rises the ranks of wealthy major cities.
Although community development finance has primarily built its foundation around real estate investing, we have learned that in a city like Philadelphia, neighborhood revitalization does not always empower local residents to move up the economic ladder but can often lead to displacement through gentrification. An impact economy requires both growth AND mobility, and thus, our strategies must include a focus on both improving places AND empowering people. To this goal, an effective impact capital strategy is about more than just building and investing financial and physical capital. We should also consider how we build and invest in human and social capital in our city.
Before a problem can be fixed, it must first be diagnosed. When it comes to grappling with racial and gender diversity in the tech industry, the roadmap to getting Philadelphia’s startups looking more like the city they’re in starts by knowing where the community stands. In a bid to help orient diversity, equity and inclusion discussions in the city, a coalition of stakeholders just launched a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmark Survey, which seeks to gather data to help inform the path to bridging inequities in Philly’s expanding tech economy.
In this report, The Urban Institute identifies and classifies some of the collaborative efforts, including ImpactPHL, that are taking shape to better understand the complexities of collaborative place-based impact investing. It is important to emphasize that collaborative place-based impact investing, is a nascent practice. It represents an innovation in impact investing and in philanthropic practice. Although in some cases the type of capital deployment that results from these initiatives may not look new on the surface, the processes of collective thinking, resource-sharing, and alignment around a common goal is very new work for many of the partners around their investments strategies, and the innovativeness of this move toward collaboration in this space should not be discounted. Further, the work that was captured in the interviews for this study is dynamic and continues to change and develop.
The third annual SustainPHL awards were hosted on August 16th, and highlighted a dais of speakers and awardees that were as diverse as the city it celebrates. The awards show from consulting company and blog Green Philly highlighted community impact leaders, social enterprises, civic orgs and nonprofits for their impactful sustainability efforts.
When the Philadelphia-based impact collaborative ImpactPHL decided to create a program aimed at bringing together impact investing leadership throughout the region, organizers expected the initiative would launch with no more than a handful of participants. “We were targeting six to eight organizations,” ImpactPHL chairman John Moore said of the Leaders program. “We ended up with 20.” In fact, the program now has 22 participants, with the possibility of more organizations being added in 2018.
The Good Capital Project, in collaboration with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, has announced that applications are now open for the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge. The Challenge is an annual competition to equip students with the knowledge and practical skills to design and execute 100% impact portfolios. Get your applications in today and get impact investing!
The Points of Light Civic Accelerator for startups is officially coming to Philadelphia. The accelerator is focused primariliy on ‘financial resilience’ and is currently looking for social enterprises to join its November cohort. The application deadline is August 24th.
IC-SVN seeks nominations for its Beyond the Pitch event at this year’s conference in Brooklyn on Nov 2. This is an opporutnity for impact entrepreneurs from around the country to pitch IC-SVN's network of impact investors. The deadline for pitch applications for this year’s national pitch event is August 31st.
For the first time at the PACT Capital Conference, there will be a track specifically for impact-driven ventures. The PACT Capital Conference is the longest running and largest venture conference on the East Coast and has hosted countless top entrepreneurs, companies and investors during its 25 year run. Applications to participate in the event are due by August 3rd
To date, many innovative education technology products and services have not been adopted by schools or have failed to achieve scale. One reason for this lack of adoption and implementation is the disconnect that often exists between educators and entrepreneurs. Practitioners often receive inadequate information about new tools and their capacity to enhance instruction, which further impedes implementation. In addition, the limited amount of time and resources that most practitioners encounter on a daily basis, including insufficient professional development on how to use new technologies, further impedes adoption rates.