ImpactPHL Perspectives, Volume 18: Drexel University’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships Generating Collaborative Solutions to Housing and Homeownership Challenges

Drexel University has taken on a mission as an engaged anchor institution with a substantial role and set of responsibilities in the life and local economy of West Philadelphia. One of our key strategies is to integrate this outward-looking perspective into our core academic functions through comprehensive supports for civic engagement. The Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, part of Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnerships, offers a hub for doing academically rigorous work that is creative, collaborative, responsive to the needs and interests articulated by residents and neighborhood stakeholders, and generates benefits for both students and residents.

Read More
ImpactPHL Perspectives, Volume 17: In the Zone: A Primer on Opportunity Zones

Investments into Opportunity Funds offer attractive tax benefits, while catalyzing capital inflows into economically distressed communities. However, prudence is necessary in evaluating these investment opportunities as they come to market. The tax benefits will not outweigh the negative consequences of a bad investment. Moreover, large numbers of investment opportunities have not yet materialized. While the initial round of IRS guidance has answered some questions, additional information, expected shortly, is necessary, and then firms will need time to evaluate and identify qualified investment opportunities before launching investment funds. Currently we assume that there will be Funds available for investment in 2019. While questions remain, Opportunity Zones offer an exciting space to monitor and evaluate for tax-sensitive and impact investors.

Read More
The Philadelphia’s Department Of Planning & Development's Guide To Developing With Social Impact

Philadelphia’s Department of Planning & Development incorporates “social impact” as a component of its review process for developers seeking public land and financing. This document explains the concept of social impact, with the intent of helping developers craft a successful social-impact strategy

Read More
Kresge Foundation Commits $22m To Back Arctaris, Community Capital Management Opportunity Zone Funds

The Kresge Foundation announced Monday it will partner with two established impact fund managers and provide $22 million in investments to anchor their emerging Opportunity Zone Funds, after these managers have agreed to a level of transparency, accountability, and disclosure thus far unheard of in the Opportunity Zones space.

Read More
How Foundations Are Using Impact Investing to Advance Racial Equity

Racial inequity is inextricably connected to nearly every social challenge that philanthropy seeks to address. Quality healthcare. Affordable housing. Access to a better education. Participation in a just economy. These are just some of the challenges that disproportionately affect people of color and are central to the mission-driven work undertaken by foundations.

Read More
Philadelphia grows a regional (and national) impact investing market

If you’re in business or finance, the term “impact investing” is probably already on your radar. If not, the growing global market – $228 billion in assets (doubled from 2016 to 2017) – is a topic that leaders as diverse as Larry Fink, the Pope, U2’s Bono, and local Philadelphia impact leaders, Jay Coen Gilbert or RoseAnn Rosenthal, would advise you have on your 2019 agenda. And the Total Impact Conference, this May in Philadelphia, is the just the opportunity to begin or advance your impact investing strategy.

Read More
Philadelphia’s impact investors step up to finance local job-creation and a storefront revival

First Step Staffing has a disarmingly simple impact strategy for integrating homeless and previously incarcerated people into the workforce. The nonprofit acquires all or part of much larger for-profit staffing companies with steady customers in need of reliable workers. First Step assimilates the existing staff and, through natural attrition, gradually adds employees from much more vulnerable – but eager to work – populations. To boost retention, First Step provides transportation and covers other expenses.

Read More
Backstage Accelerator Backs 25 Underestimated Founders In Detroit, Philadelphia, L.a. And London

WhoseYourLandlord, founded in Philadelphia by Ofo Ezeugwu to empower and inform renters, is among the first 25 companies backed by Backstage Capital’s new accelerator program. The venture capital firm for founders who identify as a woman, person of color, and/or LGBTQ will invest $100,000, and provide mentorship, investor introductions and financial guidance to each of the Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and London-based companies, in exchange for a 5% stake.

Read More
ImpactPHL Perspectives, Volume 16: Investing for Social Impact: Community Development Financial Institutions

Most low-income communities in the U.S. have access to an important resource that few people outside of these communities know: a CDFI (community development financial institution). CDFIs are private community lenders dedicated to delivering social and economic impact by providing responsible, affordable financing to disinvested people and communities. Why are CDFIs important? If you live in a community whose streets are dotted with check cashers, liquor stores, and blighted buildings, chances are there are few if any bank branches and very little investment overall. Without access to capital, residents can’t start or grow a business, purchase or rehab a home, or oftentimes, have access to quality childcare and healthcare facilities. CDFIs provide access to capital that creates opportunity and leads to real change that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Read More
New Goldman Sachs Fund Will Track Paul Tudor Jones’s Feel-Good Companies

The spiritual guru Deepak Chopra had just finished teaching a class about ethics in business at Columbia Business School when he called the billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones II in the fall of 2012. “‘Listen, one of my students has got a really good idea,’” Mr. Jones said Mr. Chopra had told him. The student had posed two questions: “Why can’t companies be an instrument for goodness? Why can’t companies focus their capital — human and financial — on being a change agent for societal betterment, a change agent for justness?”

Read More
Successful Opportunity Zone investments will pull people up, not push them out

Of all the factors stifling America’s underserved communities, a dearth of economic investment is among the most pernicious. For decades, institutional capital has largely bypassed disadvantaged urban and rural areas due to the perceived risk of investing there – whether those concerns are justified or not. As a longtime investor in underserved communities, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of private sector capital to create jobs, energize schools, revitalize neighborhoods, and ignite hope. I have also faced rejection from institutional investors who are fearful of any number of real or perceived hazards, from lack of market opportunity and narrow customer base to high crime and poor governance.

Read More
Business For Good: Time For A Capitalist Reformation

Larry Fink challenges. Tucker Carlson rants. David Brooks moralizes. Others wonder Can American Capitalism Survive? They all correctly diagnose the problem—a broken economic system that is not meeting the needs of the vast majority of people and that has embedded incentives that make it designed to fail in the more perilous times ahead—but they all fail to see clearly how long we’ve had this problem, what is its root cause, and what is required for its solution.

Read More
Impact Investing Isn't Just For The Rich - We All Have A Part To Play

As one of my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve introduced my children to an excellent idea I heard once at an event on gender lens investing (which is, by the way, a whole other interesting angle I’ll come back to at another time!). Basically, the idea is that when your children get pocket money or Christmas money etc, instead of blowing it instantly on sweets/games/50 packets of Match Attax, they have to divide it up into four pots: one for spending, one for saving, one for investing, and one for giving away.

Read More
Ceniarth’s Diane Isenberg: ‘I am a gender-lens investor’

I have never been a big fan of joining clubs and recoil at the over-simplification often inherent in these types of identifiers. That said, I have found myself, circuitously, embracing this new badge. When I first casually glanced at promotional materials for last November’s Gender Smart Investing Summit, organized by Suzanne Biegel, I was not sure that it was a forum that would be relevant to me or my team at Ceniarth. Yes, we deployed over $40 million last year in a range of global funds and enterprises, almost all of which, given their rural focus, must be attentive to gender and power dynamics in underserved communities. Yet, I still did not consider myself a gender-lens investor.

Read More
ImpactPHL Perspectives, Volume 15: PIDC Seeks to Spur Inclusive Growth in Philadelphia with New Opportunity Zones

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.

Read More
A New Local Movement

Like most parents, Dave Friedman approached his son’s graduation with pride. But he also worried. He knew that with valuable skills but high-functioning autism, his son would find few companies prepared to hire him. Friedman’s response was to create AutonomyWorks, which employs people with autism spectrum disorder to provide marketing operations support—work that, because of its detailed, repetitive nature, makes it hard for companies to retain staff.

Read More
The Alpha In Impact: How Operating With An Impact Objective Can Add Value For Investors

New research from Tideline and Impact Capital Managers (ICM), a network of private fund managers committed to impact investing, shows that a social and environmental focus on investment management can, in fact, boost financial returns. The new white paper, titled The Alpha in Impact, is based on Tideline’s analysis of nearly 30 financial transactions from ICM-member investment portfolios. The analysis uncovered 10 unique drivers of “impact alpha,” defined as the ways in which operating with an impact objective can enhance or add financial value for fund managers, investors, and the firms in which they invest.

Read More
Renewed corridor: Economic opportunities developing along North Broad

Thirty-four developments are under construction, completed or proposed for the North Broad Street corridor between City Hall and Germantown Avenue. The projects include the $56 million renovation of The Met Philadelphia into the state of the art entertainment venue, the redevelopment of the historic Lorraine Divine Hotel, $25 million renovation of the former Blue Horizon boxing venue into a Marriott brand Hotel Moxy and the transformation of the Beury Building into residential and commercial space.

Read More
City selling vacant lots with eye to ‘social impact’

City agencies own roughly a quarter of the 40,000 vacant parcels of land in Philadelphia. It’s a figure that’s barely budged over the last decade despite a building boom and the introduction of several new blight-fighting tools. But on Friday the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority plans to put 26 of those properties on the market and take a first (small) step towards a resolution for the backlog of undeveloped, municipally owned land that pocks the city’s neighborhoods.

Read More