Bringing Investment Back to Indiana: A New Accelerator for Local Impact Investing
Four Indiana foundations and GIFT Technical Assistance Program, a signature program of the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA), launched the Indiana Local Impact Investing Accelerator, a peer-learning cohort designed to help community foundations invest portions of their endowments in their home communities. The effort seeks to grow the amount of capital available in the state for community needs like housing, small businesses, clean energy, and community health. The Accelerator, the first of its kind, was designed by LOCUS Impact Investing, a national nonprofit that helps foundations and philanthropic coalitions invest locally for community impact.
The four participating foundations are the Community Foundation of Grant County, The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, The Portland Foundation, and the Tipton County Foundation, all located in East-Central Indiana. Each community has formed a working group with members of their board and staff to design a locally relevant strategy. Throughout the year, the participants will come together in intensives to learn from experienced local impact investing guides and field leaders, ask questions, and discuss potential East-Central Indiana opportunities.
The Accelerator kicked off this month with the first of three, day-long intensives. Foundation work groups collectively set their objectives for a local investing program and outlined each program’s purpose, success measurements, and possible challenges going forward, all of which will inform the convenings scheduled for the rest of the year. The communities also heard from Kansas’s Hutchinson Community Foundation, which recently made investments in housing and high-speed broadband, compelling projects that may be replicable in Indiana.
Local impact investing is an emergent practice with no one-size-fits-all approach. Programs can vary widely from foundation to foundation and region to region. Led by IPA’s GIFT Team and LOCUS, the accelerator focuses on Indiana’s vibrant network of community foundations. By building directly their capacity for local investments, participants can leverage their experience as anchor institutions in the areas they serve to deploy assets where they can do the most good.
“We see this as the next phase of community leadership and growth and maturity of the community foundation.” Dawn Brown, President of the Community Foundation of Grant County, said.
Today, much of Indiana’s $3.9 billion in community foundation assets are parked outside the state. If Indiana’s foundations committed 5% of their endowments for local investments, that would begin to strengthen the catalytic capital ecosystem in Indiana by bringing more than $200 million currently invested in financial markets back to Indiana to invest in communities. That would more than double the amount of dollars circulating locally and making an impact. In addition to traditional grantmaking, impact investing adds an additional avenue for community foundations to improve quality of life in their communities.
While Indiana’s program seeks to fortify the four participating foundations’ capacity for local investing, IPA hopes to use the Accelerator to jumpstart an impact investing movement in Indiana. As the region’s largest Philanthropy Serving Organization (PSO), IPA is the first stop for Indiana philanthropic organizations, connecting members to what they need to grow their impact. The ‘pioneer’ member-foundations, equipped with the know-how to invest locally, will transfer their takeaways to peers above and beyond this first cohort.
"We believe success will encourage others to take a chance on community investment projects leading to joint ventures with other community partners" Mark Baird, Executive Director of the Tipton County Foundation, said.
About LOCUS Impact Investing
At LOCUS, we believe philanthropy should work alongside communities to grow economies that work for all. A growing, foundation-led movement is recognizing the catalytic potential for their capital to drive equitable prosperity. We are a national nonprofit that partners with philanthropies to discover their role as community investors, activate their endowments, and deploy assets for community impact.
The LOCUS team is committed to meeting our partners where they are, helping them realize the vision of where they want to be by educating stakeholders, developing comprehensive impact investment strategies, and servicing investment funds and portfolios.