The Boston Impact Initiative has a target asset allocation of equity investments (15 percent), loans (75 percent) and grants (10 percent) to fulfill its mission.
We are seeking to invest in organizations and initiatives—both for-profit and not-for-profit—that are committed to creating a better future for Boston’s youth and families. This includes a focus on:
- Challenging structures that perpetuate racial, social, economic and environment justice
- Developing secure job opportunities
- Developing opportunities for social and business entrepreneurship
- Building healthy local food systems
- Creating stable housing environments
- Providing equitable access to transportation
- Engaging youth activism through arts and culture
- Creating opportunities for community and civic engagement
As we seek opportunities for partnership and investment, we’ll explore some of the following questions:
- How does this initiative fit with our values and beliefs about change? What can we learn from our differences?
- Who is leading the initiative? Does the leadership team have the competency and commitment to support this work?
- How will this investment create opportunities for urban youth?
- How will our partner assess their impact?
- Do we believe their financial plan will be successful? What is our risk?
- How does this investment fit with our existing portfolio?
This kind of impact investing invites us to shift our mindset from maximizing financial return as investors and social returns as philanthropists to integrating financial, social and environmental returns (also known as Triple Bottom Line for people, planet and profit). We are willing to take what some consider to be “below market” returns on a purely financial basis in order to gain more significant overall benefit for the communities we invest in.
Measuring profit is easy; calculating social and environmental returns is not. At the Boston Impact Initiative, we are experimenting with a number of different metrics for looking at how the enterprises we support are having a positive impact on their communities. In particular, we explore these key questions (inspired by BALLE):
- Ownership: Who has access to ownership?
- Opportunity: What kind of opportunities are being created for those people who have been impacted by racial, social and economic inequality?
- Community Relationships: How are you building meaningful relationships with your community—customers, suppliers, employees, business partners and even competitors?
- Place: How much business activity (both supply and demand) is generated locally?
- Nature: What contribution does your business make to stewarding and restoring the ecological environment?
- Measurement: How do you evaluate success at work? Are you considering social and ecological returns?
- Viability: Is your business financially sustainable? Do your capital structure and management team support long-term financial viability?