Seven years ago, we started the Boston Impact Initiative with a hypothesis and a dream. The hypothesis was that it was possible to create an integrated capital fund deploying equity, debt and grants to close the racial wealth divide in our extremely unequal community of Greater Boston. The dream was that if we were to prove this model out, we’d be able to share it with communities around the country who could, together, building a thriving national network of place-based funds dedicated to racial and economic justice.
Since then, we’ve put more than $6M to work at over 50 enterprises in Eastern Massachusetts that are majority governed, run and staffed by people of color, pay the vast majority of their workers well above a living wage and are building wealth for communities of color through enterprise ownership.
And now, we are embarking on the adventure of building the dream. This spring, 27 cohort members representing 12 communities will be joining the “BII Fund-Building Cohort,” an 18-month program through which existing and prospective fund managers from 12 communities will develop the financial rigor and multi-stakeholder engagement processes to structure, raise and manage a blended capital fund. The purpose of these funds is to build sustainable, inclusive and equitable local economies that restore the productive capacity of communities of color.
While each fund will be legally independent, uniquely designed to best fit its region and governed by community leaders, the funds will share core values, learning and relationships. They will opt in to share such tools and services as due diligence, impact assessments, impact covenants, investment management and fund accounting. They will be run by fund managers of color and women. Through this network, investors and philanthropists will be able to move hundreds of millions of dollars toward economic justice.
To learn more about these 27 extraordinary pioneers, please visit the BII Fund-Building Cohort page on our web site. Want to support this effort? We’re looking for co-investors, funders and partners both locally and nationally. We’d love to have you join us in this work.