At Stepping Stone Partners, we love it when we have opportunities to partner with colleagues in new ways. And our partnership with Liz Rogers and Tern Strategies is a great example! We got to know Liz in her role as head of Investor Relations at CEI, one of the CDFIs on the Impact Investments platform that we oversee for our partner Baldwin Brothers Investment Advisors. Last summer, Liz left CEI to start Tern Strategies. One area of mutual interest is bridging CDFIs and mission- and values-aligned investors. So we are collaborating on two exciting initiatives together. First, we are launching an updated Investor Note Program survey later this year, in association with American Sustainable Business Network. Second, we are developing a curriculum for CDFIs to understand the Investor Note product and learn how to start their own program. The first "class" will be offered to members of the Appalachian Community Capital network in early 2024.
We were thrilled to work with Appalachian Community Capital to help design and implement a grant program funded by the Truist Foundation to support minority- and/or women-owned enterprises across Appalachian. The goal was to support these business owners with technical assistance and pass-through grants to help them recover, survive, and thrive coming out of Covid-19. ACC members put forth proposals for how they would use these funds to support the entrepreneurs in their communities. Each approach was unique to the entrepreneurs in each community and innovative. Fourteen ACC members were selected and awarded nearly $1 million. And boy did they put that money to good use!! In the report we drafted the outcomes of these efforts are documented with both metrics and stories. It's an uplifting read!
We are happy to welcome Cassandra Archbold to Stepping Stone Partners as an Advisor. Cassie is the founder of Aligned Solutions and brings deep expertise in complex community development transactions and will work with us on risk management and due diligence. Cassie held senior roles at Cinnaire, Opportunity Finance Network, and Nonprofit Finance Fund, where she has deployed and managed nearly a billion dollars of capital into distressed communities. She holds a B.A. from University of Virginia and M.A. from University of Pennsylvania. Welcome Cassie!
We are thrilled to share the 2022 version of our report on CDFIs that accept investments from individuals. Working with the American Sustainable Business Network, our report lists over CDFI Loan Funds that accept investments from individuals. For those who would like to learn more, see the range of webinars and other activities put forth through ASBN.
For the past three years, we have the great opportunity to work with the team at JPMorganChase Foundation on their AdvancingCities initiative. Originally called PRO (Partnerships for Raising Opportunities in Neighborhoods), this $125 million 5-year initiative supported collaborative partnerships for creating opportunities in distressed cities across the United States. At SSP, we starting working with the winning collaborations a year or two after they received their awards to build a peer-learning ecosystem. We held multiple in-person convenings, pivoted to more virtual events when Covid hit, and helped connect the dots between effective partnerships happening in different locations. Participants particularly valued learning about specific sectors of lending such as small business and housing. Can models being used by collaboratives in Wisconsin be helpful to collaboratives in California or New York? Not surprisingly, the answer is a resounding YES! We are happy to have been a small part of the success of this valuable program.
There seems to be an avalanche of long-time leaders announce their retirements. Anticipating this trend, in 2021 Appalachian Community Capital (ACC) commissioned Stepping Stone Partners to interview seven former CDFI CEOs to gain their perspective on the succession experience. The findings were eye-opening to say the least!
Here are four key recommendations that resulted from the study:
"If you are an investor, you can be an impact investor. CDFIs are the ultimate double bottom line investment – earn a return on your principal and see the impact amplified many times over," says ImpactPHL guest columnist Pam Porter.
Thrilled to have a chance to talk with individuals who have invested in CDFIs. Read about their journeys and what inspires them. I love the quote from Dorothy Adams who said "CDFI investing is a no-brainer!" Also putting my money where my mouth is and starting my own investment portfolio in CDFIs. First two investments are in Capital for Change and Community First Fund. Stay tuned for more updates.
Since 2019, we have the great honor of working with the Senior Leaders and Board of Directors of Healthcare Georgia Foundation to evaluate, design, and implement their Strategic Health Impact Investments program. Starting with an understanding of the ecosystem of CDFIs serving Georgia, building relationships with these organizations, and ultimately piloting a PRI program. The pilot was a success, and earlier this year, HGF made three additional PRIs to three great organizations. We have loved working with the team at HGF to bring this program to life, to help them identify PRI partners, and then to bring the investments over the finish line. Congratulations to Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partners, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, and Carver State Bank. We know you will have great impact with these funds.
A very exciting new client and role for us is to be leading the National Disability Finance Coalition. The mission of this organization is to bridge the CDFI and Disability Communities. I've been inspired by the work of CDFIs to serve people with disabilities and their families in a wide variety of ways -- from applying universal design principles to community facilities and housing to financing businesses run by people with disabilities to providing bridge financing for assistive technologies. We are excited to lead this organization to elevate the work of those engaged in this work and provide the resources to others to expand their services to serve this important target market.
For the past 3 years, I've been a member of Social Venture Circle. Especially in the past year, there has been a significant rise in interest to understand CDFIs better. It has been a pleasure to contribute my experience and knowledge of the field to my fellow impact investors. Today we publish an original study providing the names of 60 CDFI Loan Funds that take investments from individuals.