A significant part of our Strategic Plan is to broaden our knowledge and to build a high-impact learning culture so that we can be more effective in our work. To that end, our staff and Trustees traveled to Philadelphia in May to meet and learn from four organizations including the Reinvestment Fund, FINANTA, the Patricia Kind Family Foundation, and the Untours Foundation. We sought to learn why and how impact investing is increasingly looked at as another tool to address complex issues facing communities across America.
Organized by Karen Lee Spaulding, Vice President of Philanthropic Support, the trip was led by our Strategic Plan Consultant, Fernando Chang-Muy, a Philadelphia resident who connected us with local organizations. Our visit provided an opportunity to go deeper and gain greater understanding of some effective and emerging approaches in other markets to meet the needs of the local communities they serve.
Our trip featured visits to:
- The Reinvestment Fund: Using data, policy and strategic investment, the Fund lends approximately $200 million per year to bring grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to neighborhoods that need these assets, creating neighborhood anchors that can attract additional investment.
- FINANTA: Addressing a demand for business financing that has been unmet by the local banking industry, FINANTA facilitates an infusion of capital in the form of loans to individuals, groups, and first time homebuyers. While the financing is critical, FINANTA’s technical assistance and consultant services are what drive the program’s success.
- Patricia Kind Family Foundation (PFKK): With a belief that all aspects of the Foundation’s operations should drive towards the same goal, PFKK has adopted an investment policy that aligns all of the Foundation’s assets with its mission. They proactively invest in organizations that also support their work in helping children, adults, and seniors in obtaining physical and mental health care and other human services.
- Untours Foundation: The Foundation works to alleviate poverty by giving loans, rather than grants, in order to recycle funding to build new businesses.
By visiting these organizations and hearing directly from those engaged in social impact investing, our team was able to learn deeply, ask questions, and engage in thoughtful discussion regarding our own approaches and implications for our work. Our “field trip” to Philadelphia had the added benefit of taking us out of our own environment and providing an excellent opportunity for both Board and staff to spend time together.