Making Communities Investable: Attracting and Leveraging Private Investment for Public Good
Whether the goal is economic development, affordable housing, environmental sustainability, or healthier communities, achieving change at scale is likely to require blending public funding, philanthropic grant dollars, and private investment. Mobilizing private capital that seeks financial as well as social and environmental returns, sometimes called “impact investment,” can help revitalize communities and achieve important public goals, but what does it take to attract and deploy capital for public good? Robin Hacke, a senior fellow at the Kresge Foundation, will introduce the framework of “capital absorption” and describe how it has been applied in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Denver to assess and improve community investment systems in pursuit of social and environmental goals. The framework looks beyond individual transactions and encourages leaders to collaborate to articulate strategic priorities for investment, build a set of investable opportunities with community benefits, and create an enabling environment that helps to advance the pipeline of deals and projects. The talk will draw from the paper Community Investment: Focusing on the System. Hacke will be joined in conversation by Chris Goett of the California Community Foundation, who has co-led the capital absorption work in Los Angeles, and David Wood, Director of the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University’s Hauser Institute for Nonprofit Organizations, who has been a partner in developing the framework since its inception.
Robin Hacke joined The Kresge Foundation in 2014 as a senior fellow in the Executive Office. She leads a project to improve the ability of cities to attract and leverage capital for investment in public purposes and to explore how philanthropy can develop strategies that advance this goal. The project looks at how cities can define strategic priorities, develop a pipeline of investable opportunities and improve the enabling environment for financing socially and environmentally beneficial efforts. With the Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Harvard Kennedy School, Hacke is researching how places build the capacity to absorb capital; working with cities, foundations and public-sector leaders interested in using the capital-absorption framework to help advance their programmatic objectives; and publishing papers and tools to share what is being learned. The project builds on work begun at Living Cities, a partnership among major foundations and financial institutions, where Robin served as director of capital innovation for nearly seven years. At Living Cities, she co-developed and managed capital deployment for the $80 million Integration Initiative. She spearheaded the creation of the Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits and completed investments in areas such as equitable transit-oriented development, foreclosure mitigation, food access and new approaches such as pay for performance. She is a member of the steering committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge, has worked with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on efforts to build healthy places, and has served as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She spent 20 years guiding the growth of technology companies as a venture capitalist, strategy consultant and director, and was previously a banker in the public finance department at Shearson Lehman Brothers. She earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of arts in government from Harvard-Radcliffe College.
David Wood is the Director of the Initiative for Responsible Investment (IRI) at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He directs research and field-building work on responsible investment across asset classes, and currently manages projects on RI strategy with pension fund trustees, mission investing by foundations, the changing landscape of community investing in the US, and impact investing and public policy. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins University and is an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School.
Christopher Goett is the senior program officer in charge of housing, economic development and Smart Growth programs for the California Community Foundation. Goett came to CCF from the Council on Foundations, where he led a team responsible for a national portfolio supporting place-based philanthropy, community foundations, civic engagement, coalition building and community development. Throughout his career, Goett has been actively involved with community development and civic engagement in low-income neighborhoods across the country. Prior to joining the Council, he worked with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the Community Preservation and Development Corporation – a community development corporation in the Washington D.C. area – and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Villanova University and earned a Master of Social work degree with an emphasis on community organizing and economic development from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He was named a 2014 PLACES Fellow with the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.