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Blog Archives

Check out our past blog articles drafted by LOCUS staff and partners.

Over the past five years, we have helped an additional 30 community foundations become community investors. Along the way, the LOCUS team recognized that local impact investing by community foundations differs from that practiced by private, non-place-focused foundations. And we identified a need for community foundations to come together to discuss, debate, and even troubleshoot the challenges – and opportunities – that local impact investing creates.

People’s Solar Energy Cooperative’s new program demonstrates how by serving as a cooperative commons it can enable community-based solar developers to build community ownership of solar, especially in low and moderate-income communities and communities of color.

What have we learned from our past three Accelerators? As our team reflected on these experiences, we hit upon five themes for using peer cohorts to support "learning for action" that grow the practice of local investing by foundations.

Invest Appalachia has a clear goal: To accelerate and expand community investment across Central Appalachia. To do so, IA builds on the region's existing strengths, working side-by-side with partners who are rooted in place and understand their communities. After six years of collaborative stakeholder design, Invest Appalachia is now a fully operational platform positioned to do just that.

2022 marked LOCUS’ five-year anniversary. Earlier this year, we articulated three themes we see emerging from this work. As we reflect on the year, we want to revisit these themes: organizational readiness, collaboration, and centering equity.

The first-of-its-kind Indiana Impact Accelerator is helping community foundations amplify their impact.

The Kansas City Credit Enhancement Fund (“Fund”) and its loan loss reserve program create greater access to capital for small businesses in the Kansas City metro area by providing incentives for banks, CDFIs, and other lending institutions to invest in businesses owned and operated by entrepreneurs in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

A functioning local capital ecosystem needs investors willing to take risks, be patient, and act responsively with access to capital. LOCUS helps institutions – foundations, hospitals, health care systems – become investors for community prosperity. In our 5-year impact report, we will track our impact on places, institutions, quality of practice, and dollars on the move. And we know there is a lot of work to do to change how our financial system works for places and people in communities across our country.

LOCUS Impact Investing services NIIF’s growing and diverse investment portfolio, enabling them to maintain a lean staff and invest only in the infrastructure they need to scale community impact.

Part of what LOCUS champions is the idea that communities already have many of the assets needed to realize the visions and possibilities of their people and places. In fact, many of those assets are anchored in institutional and philanthropic endowments. We believe that these institutions have an obligation to activate more of those assets through local investment strategies.

As more community development intermediaries develop financing programs with a lens of racial equity, many have encountered longstanding barriers. Learn more about how CIGP can be used as a tool for equity.

This month, we are focusing on the ways in which foundations and mission-driven investors cultivate purposeful communities of practice to address challenges – and opportunities – posed by local or place-based impact investing.

Last year, LOCUS Impact Investing and Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA)—through the IPA GIFT Technical Assistance Program—launched the Indiana Local Impact Investing Accelerator to help four community foundations explore the potential for local impact investments and build the understanding and capacity to invest their endowments in their home communities. Inspired by the success of their peers and desire to do more, five Indiana community foundations have joined a second accelerator cohort.

Last month, we heard from Amir Kirkwood, President and CEO of Virginia Community Capital, about how the roots of impact investing are local. This month, as we celebrate our five-year anniversary, it’s fitting to overlay that idea onto our own organizational journey. The roots of LOCUS Impact Investing are local.

Impact Investing, especially at the local level, is an evolving field that thrives off of innovative partnerships in pursuit of systemic change. Amir Kirkwood, President and CEO of Virginia Community Capital (VCC), has spent his entire career at the nexus of these kinds of collaborations, from his early days in the banking sector, to his tenure at Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), to his current role as leader of a CDFI. We talk to Amir about his perspective on impact investing and how various stakeholders can come together to allocate capital more effectively.

This month, LOCUS President Sarah Stremlau shares our takeaways from the past year, highlighting three key lessons learned through the example of our partners. Their efforts show how capital can be a tool to drive equitable prosperity in communities where people live, work, and raise their families.

Two years in, CIGP is already proving itself a unique resource for impact that unlocks vital “but for” dollars and catalyzes projects headed by diverse stakeholders. We reflect on the program's early challenges, present successes, and our plans for CIGP going into 2022.

Deb Markley discusses the Appalachian Ecosystem Journey, a new piece documenting decades of local-led work to build out Central Appalachia's Investment Ecosystem.

Invest Appalachia and LOCUS Impact Investing - as part of the Appalachian Investment Ecosystem Initiative - are partnering with the West Virginia Community Development Hub to launch the Appalachia Investment Framer Action Cohort, an initiative to increase investment into catalytic community development projects located in the Central Appalachian region.

LOCUS Impact Investing is proud to introduce Jim Baek, CIGP's new executive director. Jim comes to CIGP and LOCUS via Deutsche Bank where he served as Head of U.S. Community Finance as well as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Officer.

This month, we discuss how funder associations and collaboratives can strengthen the local impact investing movement.

To meet the need for catalytic capital in Indiana, the LOCUS team is partnering with the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA) to guide four of its member foundations through our Local Impact Investing Accelerator, building their capacity for local investment and a strategy to follow through. Read more about this effort to build Indiana's local impact investing ecosystem here.

At LOCUS, we've spoken at length about the need for philanthropy to "rise to the current moment," going beyond traditional grantmaking to leverage more dollars for impact. That spirit is evident in Invest Appalachia, a new fund advancing the infrastructure impact investors need to redefine the relationship between community and capital in the central Appalachian Region.

Check out our article to learn how Invest Appalachia pairs catalytic and investment capital, grant funds, and dollars raised by impact investors, in an effort to advance economic opportunity and address inequities.

We check in with Invest Appalachia and how the program aims to accelerate investment in the region.

Part and parcel of any philanthropic local investing practice is due diligence: the process of determining whether a deal can meet an organization’s risk, return, and community impact expectations. This month, we examine due diligence and how foundations interested in creating equitable prosperity can reimagine the practice into an instrument grounded in equity values.

LOCUS President Sarah Stremlau discusses the Community Investment Guarantee Pool (CIGP) in a new blog article that explores guarantees as a tool for impact and the program's progress to date.

As we close the door on a tumultuous 2020, it's important to pause, breathe, and take stock. Rife with challenge as this year was, it's easy to lose sight of the brighter moments, examples of resiliency and progress amid seemingly insurmountable crises. With 2021 on the horizon, we at LOCUS hope you and yours are able take the time to look back and that, even if circumstances are still far from normal, you have a happy holiday season. Click to read a full statement from LOCUS President Sarah Stremlau reflecting on the year and what's ahead.

This month, we take a look at the Community Investment Guarantee Pool (CIGP) and its year in review. Communities and stakeholders across the United States experienced a difficult 2020, a challenge CIGP answered with the deployment of multiple guarantees for impact in its target sectors while continuing to build capacity and infrastructure.

We chat with the Albuquerque Community Foundation about the organization's efforts to promote diversity and antiracism.

On this month's LOCast, we sidebar with Opportunity Virginia's Becca Richardson to recap the project's inaugural year and look forward to what's next for Virginia's premiere Opportunity Zone marketplace.

LOCUS and its foundation partners are bringing their experience on a changing philanthropic culture through recent talks with CNote and the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance. This month, LOCUS team members Lisa O'Mara and Travis Green discuss how foundations are reshaping their culture and strategy to meet new goals for impact.

This month, LOCUS dips into its well of rural experience to talk with LOCUS Senior Vice President Deb Markley and the UNC School of Government's Brian Dabson to discuss their new project, "Regional Solutions for Rural and Urban Challenges."

Deb Markley shares resources for foundations seeking to understand how their work can help facilitate the recovery and resiliency of stakeholders in a post-COVID-19 world.

Deb Markley discusses the role for community philanthropy in supporting stakeholders during COVID-19

This month, we announce big changes at LOCUS: the transformation of our scope and expansion of our leadership.

This month, we talk about the launch of the first guarantee pool for community investments in the US.

This month on our blog, we reflect on 2019 and look ahead to 2020.

We break down the essential elements to consider when designing a PRI servicing program.

This month, we share our reflections from the successful launch of Opportunity Virginia. The event generated significant buzz and enthusiasm about the future of the Opportunity Zone program as well as facilitated connections that could lead to impact through investment.

This month, we share a story from Virginia Community Capital (VCC), LOCUS' parent company, about how a creative impact investment from a private foundation allowed a CDFI to further its mission of ending poverty in Appalachia.

This month, LOCUS shares how to get up to speed on place-based impact investing.

This month, Travis Green shares updates on a new tool for foundations interested in pursuing place-based impact investing.

This month, LOCUS Staff share what their takeaways from convenings on place-based impact investing around the country.

This month, LOCUS Advisor Ed Gerardo shares a new perspective on achieving better health outcomes in under-served communities through local impact investing.

This month, Cathy Berry of The Sandy River Charitable Foundation shares her organization's impact investing journey. LOCUS is grateful to have friends like Cathy at The Sandy River Charitable Foundation, and we thank her for sharing their story.

Travis Green, LOCUS' Solutions Consultant, discusses how and why place-based impact investing "catches" between philanthropic institutions.

This month, Amy B. Robinson, Vice President, CFO, and Chief Administrative Officer of the Kresge Foundation, shares with LOCUS her blog describing the Foundation's experience with impact investing in practice and the lessons learned along the way.

This month, Adam Northup, LOCUS Financial Strategist, checks in on Opportunity Zones, their potential for positive change, and possible pitfalls.

This month, we take stock of the LOCUS journey and think ahead towards local impact investing in 2019.