Michigan Lifted Up Nationally for Strides in Impact Investing Efforts
At CMF, we are seeing a growing in interest in the practice of impact investing - interest we believe will continue to rise in the months and years ahead as the fruits of this work mature. We're committed to supporting growth in this practice, especially as investments in Michigan increase, growing resources to support positive community outcomes.
Over the last five years, CMF has been providing focused leadership around impact investing in response to member needs. This has included learning opportunities, board-level committee work, a video series highlighting completed investments, support of a Michigan infrastructure hub and collaboration on a Mission Related Investment (The Michigan Collaborative of the CCM fixed income bond fund).
As CMF has reported, the Michigan Collaborative was named the best performing fund by Morningstar in its intermediate government category out of more than 250 funds. As of the end of March 2018, The Michigan Collaborative led to $188 million in impact investments throughout Michigan’s urban and rural regions from a combination of CMF member foundations, individual investors and other mission-focused stakeholders.
In addition to ongoing national thought leadership and partnership, our work will also continue June 27 with a 90-minute webinar featuring Jennifer Oertel, CMF’s first Impact Investing Expert in Residence (EIR). As part of the development of Michigan’s impact investing hub, we recognized need for a hub facilitator with expertise and experience to guide hub activities. Since Jennifer became the EIR In September 2017, she has provided well over 360 hours in this role, and demand from members continues to grow. The June webinar will also feature seasoned Michigan leaders in the field sharing their stories of impact investing in action, including Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO, Michigan Women Forward.
Beyond presentations and webinars hosted through CMF, members and partners throughout the state have been able to leverage Jennifer’s expertise and strengthen their collective knowledge of impact investing through independent engagements, welcoming her as a presenter at a variety of events for foundation staff and board members.
Michigan continues to be in the spotlight as a national leader for impact investing after being recognized as an early adopter.
This spring, Jennifer participated in the national Mission Investors Exchange conference as CMF’s expert in residence to address attendee questions on impact investing. Debbie McKeon, CMF's senior VP of member services, was a session presenter on place-based impact investing in Michigan. This emergent practice involves coordinating efforts among different investors in a community to enable community-driven and purposefully-designed investment approaches.
In the recently released Urban Institute national report on place-based impact investing - “Investing Together: Emerging Approaches in Collaborative Place-Based Impact Investing” - researchers examined dozens of models across the U.S. and identified Michigan as one of the top five leaders they wanted to feature. CMF’s interview for this national research report led to the report’s highlight of Michigan's efforts.
Following a national field scan, authors Shena R. Ashley and Jocelyn Ovalle identified and classified some of the collaborative efforts they saw taking shape "to better understand the complexities of collaborative place-based impact investing."
They outlined several key findings for organizations that instigate and engage in collaborative place-based impact investing.
"Increasingly, as more foundations build their capacity in and reshape their strategies around impact investing, many are seeking ways to create collaborative opportunities in their local investing activities," the authors state. "One exciting development in this space is that innovative alliances among foundations, individual investors and other mission-focused stakeholders are emerging across the United States to collectively pursue local investing. Through these collaborations, foundations are harnessing the resources and expertise of others who share their goals, they are creating new investment platforms to enhance the amount of capital that achieves both social and financial returns, and they are striving to catalyze systemic changes in the capital landscape in their communities."
CMF Members Join Public-Private Partnership to Bring Arctic Grayling Back to Michigan’s Streams
Arctic grayling once thrived in northern Michigan’s cold-water streams. The Manistee and Au Sable Rivers attracted fishing and wildlife enthusiasts who were eager to admire the grayling’s iridescent beauty. This native fish was an important part of Michigan’s history. The City of Grayling, Michigan is its namesake.
By 1936, Michigan’s population of Arctic grayling was completely wiped out. The species couldn’t withstand habitat destruction from logging, overfishing and competition from the introduction of predatory trout.
The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative, formed in 2016 and led by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, is now working to bring the fish back to Michigan’s waters. The initiative is already receiving strong support from more than 45 agencies, including four CMF members.
A 2017 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation allowed for a field study along the upper Manistee River. Researchers collected data to identify streams where habitat conditions would be ideal for each life stage of the Arctic grayling. The grant also supported outreach to engage Michiganders in the re-introduction efforts.
The Rotary Charities of Traverse City grant support enabled a partnership with NorthSky Nonprofit Network to create a fund development strategy matching public and private funding sources with project phases and the development of initial grant applications.
This spring, it was announced that a grant from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation will be used to support efforts similar to those taken by the state of Montana, where scientists have been working to restore self-sustaining populations of Arctic grayling for nearly 30 years.
“Our donors and review committee are extremely interested and supportive of this project,” said Sarah Ford, the foundation’s community and donor engagement officer. “In fact, thanks to the generous support of individual donors who maintain funds with us, we were able to award $1,000 more than the $10,000 that was requested. They felt the project was important to support a legacy project for our region and Michigan.”
The Manistee County Community Foundation is also a partner in the initiative.
The initiative has secured over $418,000 to date; the total cost is projected to be $1.1 million.
“The grayling reintroduction is a tremendous collaborative effort and there simply is no way we can bring this iconic fish back to Michigan without the generous contributions of others,” Jim Dexter, Fisheries Chief, DNR said.
Learn more the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative.
Read the Action Plan.