October 23, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

CCM Impact Investing Fund, with Michigan-specific focus: Aeris rates as first tool to help evaluate impact

As impact investing is an emerging field there’s been no standard measurement or rating for impact investing funds, until now. That’s all changed with the announcement from Aeris, a ratings and information service for impact investors, as they have provided a top rating to Community Capital Management’s (CCM) CRA Qualified Investment Institutional Shares (CRANX) fund, saying the rating “is the first tool to help investors evaluate impact management—that is, how well a fund pursues and achieves its stated impact goals.”

This makes the CCM fund the first publicly-traded mutual fund to receive a third-party, impact management rating. The CCM CRANX fund is the fund that is available for CMF members to invest in targeted fixed income investments in affordable housing, small business lending, and civic infrastructure, through an initiative announced in August, Investing for Impact: The Michigan Collaborative.

Impact Alpha, an online investment news organization, reports CCM’s fund was given “a ‘4-sun’ rating, indicating ‘exceptional alignment of its impact mission, strategies, activities, and data that guide its investment programs and planning.’ The ratings, on a 1 to 4 scale, represents the strength of the internal accountability mechanisms to deliver on the promised impact.”

 “With a ballooning number of funds claiming to have positive environmental and social impacts, CCM was eager to participate in a third-party validation of our impact performance and metrics,” David Sand, CCM’s chief impact investment strategist said. “Social impact is core to our mission as our Aeris rating demonstrates and we are excited that the CRA Qualified Investment Fund is the first public mutual fund to receive an impact management rating.”

Battle Creek Community Foundation (BCCF) is one of the CMF members working in impact investing and has invested in The Michigan Collaborative.

Brenda Hunt, president and CEO of BCCF shares why impact investing is an important tool for their community foundation.

“Given the complexity of the social needs and the level of capital that is required we will not be able to ‘grant’ our way to success,” Hunt said. “We need to deploy more resources (assets) in order to make a significant impact that even touches the need. By adding impact investing to the philanthropic ‘tools’ portfolio philanthropy can attract and drive more business and more investment from more sources and thus create more positive impacts.”

Aeris shares that the experimental rating was supported through a grant by the Ford Foundation as the foundation is committed to building and supporting the field of impact investing. Earlier this year the Ford Foundation announced its committing $1 billion of its endowment to impact investing over the next decade.

Want more?

Learn about Investing for Impact: The Michigan Collaborative.

Meet and connect with CMF's Impact Investing Team.

Check out CCM's video highlighting a Michigan project which provides "an example of the positive outcomes that can result from fixed income place-based investing."







 Interventions Underway to Save Lives

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is sharing some troubling data around our growing suicide rates and those who may be at greater risk in our communities, from rural residents to youth.

The data:

  • Suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent since 2001.
  • The CDC recently released new statistics showing that rural counties “consistently had higher suicide rates than metropolitan counties” when examining a 14-year data set.
  • Findings by age group revealed increases in suicide rates for all ages with the highest rates and greatest rate increases in rural counties. There’s no insights as to why we’re seeing this in rural counties, but the CDC is calling for proven prevention efforts to combat these increases.
  • Suicide rates for males in both metro and urban areas were four to five times higher than for women.
  • CDC’s data shows suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-24.

MLive recently reported on Michigan’s data from the CDC which showed concerning trends among teens and young adults, since 2010 Michigan has trended higher than the national average when it comes to suicide rates of people ages 15-24.

MLive reports, “in Washtenaw County alone, 17 people ages 15 to 24 died by suicide in 2016, the highest number since the county's medical examiner began keeping track in 2004.”

This is an issue in many Michigan communities. In Hillsdale, it’s one that philanthropy is working to address.

“Our most recent needs assessment identified several mental health concerns as the top needs for young people in our community (bullying, pressure to achieve and succeed, low self-esteem, and depression), and we’ve also had a number of youth suicides and attempts in the past few years,” Amber Yoder, director of community engagement and YAC advisor, Hillsdale County Community Foundation told CMF.

In response, Hillsdale County Community Foundation’s YOUTH (HCCFY) kicked off a new campaign two weeks ago with a presentation to more than 1,600 area high schoolers, featuring Mike Veny, a national mental health speaker. The HCCFY is also working with local schools to establish peer listening teams within each school who can direct students to resources if needed.

“We have had one training with all school teams together, and are offering additional, more specialized training to each school (for both staff and the peer teams),” Yoder said. “In addition, we are asking each school to participate in a social media awareness campaign, featuring the hashtag #iwontbesilent.”

Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, another CMF member, continues to work to bring awareness to mental health through its Opening Minds Ending Stigma campaign, through a partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The foundation’s latest video in the documentary series focuses on mental health issues and challenges facing college students. The foundation shares that the video discusses “the rising suicide rate among young people on campus, as suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.”

Earlier this year, a memorial fund was set up at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation to expand and support the efforts of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan’s Be Nice campaign in area schools. Be Nice is an anti-bullying campaign that provides education and resources around negative impacts on mental health.

Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation also supports a Safe Schools anti-bullying program that provides workshops around prevention and intervention skills for educators and school staff.

Want more?

This week you can hear from Andrea Cole, executive director and CEO, Ethel and James Flinn Foundation at Our Common Future conference as she shares insights from their Opening Minds Ending Stigma campaign in Innovation Insights: Working for Healthier Communities.






Foreclosure Rates Dropping

Foreclosure rates in our state are trending down, a promising sign for our economic stability. Realtytrac data shows that in September the number of foreclosure filings in Michigan dropped 3 percent from the month prior and 24 percent from the same time last year. Reuters recently reported that the number of tax foreclosures in Detroit has dropped to the lowest level since the Great Recession.

The Detroit Free Press recently reported that Detroit’s number of foreclosed owner-occupied homes has dropped by 88 percent since 2015 and the majority of the occupied homes that were foreclosed on this year were housing renters and the landlord was not paying taxes.

CMF members are working around the state not only to provide access to affordable, safe housing but also to stabilize neighborhoods and ensure families can stay in their homes.

The McGregor Fund has announced a $500,00 grant to the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) to help 1,000 households facing tax foreclosure and eviction to avoid losing their homes.

The McGregor Fund shares how it works:

  • UCHC will use the grant to pay a portion of the lump sum deposit required for 600 homeowners to initiate a payment plan for back taxes.
  • The grant will also preserve homeownership by funding a skilled trades consultant to teach families how to do basic repairs and weatherization.
  • The skilled trades consultant will also help up to 400 renters occupying homes in foreclosure to purchase and repair their homes.

“Each foreclosure and eviction prevented means a family avoids the devastation of homelessness. Homeownership gives families an opportunity to thrive and grow equity in their homes,” Ted Phillips, executive director, UCHC said. “But when foreclosed homes are purchased by investors at the tax auction, occupants are evicted, investor-owned homes are often neglected and blighted, and neighborhoods quickly destabilize.”

UCHC’s skilled trades consultant will also work with the 80 families to participate in a recently announced UCHC pilot program funded by Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund (QLCIF).

Quicken Loans, a CMF member, shared earlier this month that the homes of 80 Detroit renters were removed from the tax foreclosure auction using funds donated by the QLCIF. Now, those 80 renters who would have been displaced will have the opportunity to become homeowners and purchase their rental home for between $2,500 and $5,500.

“This program is another great example of how as our city grows, we, along with our partners in the private sector, are helping families that have faced challenges to stay in their homes,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a news release. “Even better, it’s helping to convert renters into homeowners.”

Quicken Loans shares that “since beginning a partnership with the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force in 2013, the QLCIF has zeroed in on tax foreclosure as the number one driver of blight creation.”








Program Related Investment in MI Leveraged to Create Double the Impact 

The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation just received new data on a program-related investment (PRI) they provided to Hebrew Free Loan in 2012, which shows the PRI was leveraged to double the impact.

The Fisher Foundation made a $200,000, 5-year PRI to Hebrew Free Loan to provide interest-free loans to help members of the Jewish community live better lives.

 The latest feedback on the PRI shows that Hebrew Free Loan was able to deploy and recycle the $200,000 PRI to create $400,000 worth of social impact, resulting in 62 loans, with a 99.5 percent repayment rate.

Loans were used in support of various household needs including home improvement, used car purchases, in-vitro fertilization and adoption, and to support cultural and educational pursuits.

This week at Our Common Future conference, you can hear first-hand from David Contorer, executive director at Hebrew Free Loan as he shares how this partnership was created, capital was deployed, and impact was realized at the breakout session, Impact Investing: From Concept to Closing.

Want more?

Check out the two impact investing breakout sessions happening at Our Common Future conference, Impact Investing: Art of the Possible and Impact Investing: From Concept to Closing.

Have a question? Please connect with Jennifer Oertel, CMF’s impact investing expert-in-residence or Elizabeth Garlow, CMF’s impact investing fellow.

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