News

New IRI Report Examines National Advisory Boards on Impact Investing

by Erin Shackelford

The Initiative for Responsible Investment is pleased to announce the release of a new report by IRI Director Dr. David Wood and former IRI Assistant Director Katie Grace Deane (now at the Center for Community Investment) with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.  The report “National Advisory Boards and Impact Investing:  The Power of Cross-Sector Collaboration”, stems from work with the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing (GSG), the successor organization to the Social Impact Investing Taskforce of the G8.  Our new report illuminates the work of National Advisory Boards (NABs) on Impact Investing.... Read more about New IRI Report Examines National Advisory Boards on Impact Investing

HKS Student-Led Impact Investing Study Group Features Impressive Guest Speakers

One of the roles of the IRI is to connect different stakeholders in the responsible investing community, and this year we’ve been excited to work with Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) students who are leading the  Impact Investing Study Group (IISG).

An initiative between IRI Director David Wood and HKS MPA students John Griffith and Anubha Shrivastava, the IISG is comprised of around 70 students across HKS, HBS, HLS and GSD with some professional and/or academic background in impact investing. Throughout the year, the IISG has  convened a series of roundtable...

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Collaboration by Design: CDFIs, Capital Absorption, and the Creation of Community Investment Systems

by Erin Shackelford

Rebuilding disinvested communities takes more than money. Rather, as research done by the Initiative for Responsible Investment (IRI) at the Harvard Kennedy School has shown, places that have been starved of resources for extended periods of time often lack the policies, practices, or relationships they need to effectively leverage existing or new resources.

IRI's capital absorption framework not only recognizes that there is a complex system that governs how resources flow into communities, it also provides a way to think beyond individual transactions to identify changes at a system level so that investment is used more effectively to achieve community goals. Potential system-level interventions can include bringing new partners to the table, identifying new resources that can be provided by existing partners, creating different ways of doing business, and changing the policies and relationships that determine the allocation of money and other resources.

Many of these approaches are central to strategies used in collaborative initiatives carried out by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that have been funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s PRO Neighborhoods program. The growing collaboration among CDFIs—which can be banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions that have a primary mission to provide access to financial services in low-income communities—have included the development of joint products and services, efforts to share risk and expertise, jointly developed new technologies, and the development of larger scale projects which could attract additional investors.

new case study, which uses this "capital absorption" framework to examine many of the collaborative efforts funded by the PRO Neighborhoods initiative, finds that the funding spurred three types of collaborations that together increased the CDFIs' ability to respond more effectively to key needs and concerns.... Read more about Collaboration by Design: CDFIs, Capital Absorption, and the Creation of Community Investment Systems

Investing in “High Road” Infrastructure

by Erin Shackelford

bridge

In light of the recent White House proposal on infrastructure, now may be a good time for investors to consider what makes infrastructure investment responsible, or “high road”.  The current proposal is reportedly focused on incentivizing private sector investment in infrastructure, rather than providing a large federal spending package or a revenue producing proposal, like increasing the gas tax.  With this framework, investors may see an uptick in infrastructure fund-raising.  Indeed, investors may have an opportunity at this moment to signal what kinds of infrastructure investments they consider investable.  Two recent publications may be helpful to those considering investments that both meet their long-term risk-return profile, and properly include consideration of relevant ESG factors and collateral community benefits.... Read more about Investing in “High Road” Infrastructure

Pension Trustees Gather at Harvard

By Erin Shackelford

David Wood and Priya Mathur
IRI Director David Wood and CalPERS Trustee Priya Mathur discuss elevating the S in ESG.

 

Pension trustees gathered at the Harvard Kennedy School in June for the Trustee Leadership Forum for Retirement Security's Annual Convening.  The TLF hosted 60 trustees and welcomed guests from Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, and South Africa.  Running through the three days of convenings was a mission to elevate the "S in ESG", or, more specifically, how to protect people in investments.  Priya Mathur (CalPERS), David Wood (IRI), Jose Meijer (APB), and Hughes LeTourneau (CWC) all shed light on this topic and shared their work.  Collaboration was another theme that resonated, in particular around investment in "high road" infrastructure.  Thanks to our special guest speakers Jose Meijer, Michael McCarthy, representatives of the Diverse Asset Managers Initiative, and Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.

And, next week, the TLF is looking forward to welcoming the National Council on Teacher Retirement to campus for their Annual Trustee Workshop.  We are excited to be co-hosting this event for the third time.  The NCTR Annual Trustee Workshop brings 70 teacher pension fund trustees together for three days of education and discussion.... Read more about Pension Trustees Gather at Harvard

New Research Center Builds on Capital Absorption Work

By Erin Shackelford

Center for Community Investment LogoLast week the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy announced the creation of a new research center focused on capital absorption

Since 2012, David Wood (IRI) and Katie Grace Deane (IRI) have collaborated with Robin Hacke, Marian Urquilla, and others, to develop and explore the concept of capital absorption, or the ability of places to attract and deploy capital in support of low and moderate income communities.  The formation of the Center for Community Investment is significant validation of this work.... Read more about New Research Center Builds on Capital Absorption Work

NEW IRI/RWJF Report Advances Capital Absorption Work With a Focus on Pioneering Health Institutions

By Erin Shackelford

When hospitals invest everybody wins.“What can communities do to make it easier to attract and deploy capital and leverage other assets to achieve their social goals?”  This question, central to the concept of capital absorption, is addressed in a new report which applies the concept to hospitals and health systems.  Released today, “Improving Community Health by Strengthening Community Investment:  Roles for Hospitals and Health Systems” is co-authored by Robin Hacke (Kresge) and IRI Assistant Director Katie Grace Deane.  With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hacke and Deane expand their work on capital absorption into the area of hospitals and health systems, examining how these institutions may be able to drive community health improvements by investing in the social determinants of health.... Read more about NEW IRI/RWJF Report Advances Capital Absorption Work With a Focus on Pioneering Health Institutions

Private Capital for Public Purpose: IRI Director David Wood’s HKS Course Returns

By Erin Shackelford

David WoodReturning HKS students with an interest in impacting investing and related efforts may wish to consider IRI Director Dr. David Wood's popular course “Private Capital for Public Purpose:  Impact Investing and Its Siblings”.  The course, which runs on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:45 am to 1:00 pm, will examine types of investors, their social goals, investment strategies and vehicles, public policy, and ways to assess the impact of these investments.... Read more about Private Capital for Public Purpose: IRI Director David Wood’s HKS Course Returns

Investing in Small Cities: Capital Absorption in Massachusetts

by Katie Grace Deane

Capital and Collaboration Report CoverSmall cities across the state of Massachusetts, from Lawrence and Fall River to Chicopee and Pittsfield, are facing many of the same economic challenges we saw highlighted during the 2016 election across the Rust Belt and upper Midwest. Many of these “Gateway” or “Working” cities in Massachusetts were founded on a strong manufacturing base, which declined over the latter half of the 20th century, leaving behind economic stagnation and declining population. While many of these cities today are seeing increased attention as a result of their regional importance (Pittsfield and Springfield) or rising populations from immigration, they still lag the state averages in household income and educational attainment.... Read more about Investing in Small Cities: Capital Absorption in Massachusetts