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Community Foundations Pursue Impact Investments to Build Local Economies

Catherine Covington

In this issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, our Senior Fellow Marjorie Kelly was featured for her work on equitable, sustainable community development and innovations in the community wealth building field.

In January 2015, Marjorie Kelly of the Democracy Collaborative wrote in the Stanford Social Innovation Review about a wave of community foundations using impact investing― investing with an eye toward social benefits as well as financial returns ― to build community wealth.

She had just attended the inaugural session of the Community Foundation Circle, a support group for leaders who wanted their organizations to invest in local projects that dovetailed with their missions. Members of the circle, sponsored by RSF Social Finance(where I work) and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, met in person four times over an 18-month period to exchange ideas and get support from peers in moving their impact-investing programs forward.

Among the assembled leaders was Ms. Caldwell. In the aftermath of the circle session, she recruited people inside and outside the Tahoe Truckee foundation, including MBA students at the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, to envision impact-investing opportunities. The goal, she says, was to create more housing for area residents and build “an entrepreneurial economy that is both green and socially good.” ... Read the full article.