In this month’s blog, Rebecca Gilliam, Foundation Executive Director, shares a bit about Local Impact Investing and what it means for our community.
Local Impact Investing can be an invaluable tool for community foundations as they seek to support local economic development projects. Historically, community foundations have utilized grantmaking to make an impact in the community, but new tools allow for an expanded approach to impact. Grantmaking continues to be important and combined with impact investing, local projects can be funded, and community impact achieved.
In 2022, a team of Wayne County Foundation board members and staff joined a Local Impact Investing cohort through the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance and facilitated by LOCUS, a national nonprofit focused on local impact investing. The cohort included other community foundations in Indiana that were interested in developing their local investment program. We learned from our peers and vetted our emerging program with colleagues across the state.
Local impact investments are not grants. The Foundation is activating existing investment assets to support local projects. In its simplest terms, impact investing is any type of investment structured to generate both a financial return and a measurable community impact.
Why are we doing this?
This program complements traditional grantmaking strategies. Impact investing fuels opportunities, supports our mission, and at the same time addresses our county’s most pressing needs. At its greatest, it’s a courageous new way to invest in Wayne County success.
Wayne County Foundation’s impact investing program will be coupled with the work of Forward Wayne County (FWC) – the Community Engagement and Leadership driver of the Wayne County Foundation. The guided by the FWC Steering Committee, five indicators of community health were identified and must be addressed to change the future of Wayne County:
- Reduction in poverty
- Increased per capita income
- Increased educational attainment
- Increased population
- Increased housing value
Local impact investments can turn the curve on these issues. Our local investment needs are large and will require strategic partnerships and multiple funding sources. Specifically, city centers across Wayne County need revitalization. The adaptive reuse of historic and deteriorating building is costly and securing all the funding need is a challenge. Capital can be leveraged through strategic partnerships and will show great impact to stakeholders, residents, donors, and organizations we serve.
Local impact investing is mission driven.
No one entity can do this alone. In partnership, we can tackle these issues, invest in projects that will help us achieve community improvement goals, and reinvest back into the OUR community. Through impact investing, we can create sustainable, catalytic change for all of our residents.