Aligning Money With Mission.

In 2014, BALLE began convening the Local Economy Foundation Circle (formerly the Community Foundation Circle) a cohort-based group of community, health, and place-based private foundations that are committed to moving their money away from Wall Street investments and into direct alignment with their community missions. Along with the BALLE Investors Circle, these foundations are actively modeling a new way of working with capital to create healthy, equitable local economies.

Over the course of an 18-month intensive experience, the Foundation Circle supports leaders to actively advance mission-based investing in their place with the support of like-minded peers and the most innovative experts in the field. The circle consists of five multi-day immersions, and mentorship and peer support between sessions. The community of practice helps foundation leaders to advance their personal effectiveness in overcoming barriers to place-based impact investment, most generally including: culture, strategy, capacity, and deal/opportunity flow. The Foundation Circle also has an arc of personal development and a focus on prioritizing racial and economic justice.

Each cohort has access to expert faculty and resources, including FB Heron Foundation, RSF Social Finance, the Democracy Collaborative, Mission Investors’ Exchange, and Avivar Capital, all leaders in the field; as well as BALLE’s Local Economy Fellows, practitioners who are leading the way in building more healthy, equitable local economies in their places. Learn more about the full list of Foundation Circle faculty and resource partners here.

The initial cohort of the invitational Foundation Circle, comprised of 13 community foundation leaders from across North America, completed their program in the spring of 2016. The 2nd cohort of 16 foundation leaders began convening in October 2016 and will finish in early 2018. The cohorts represent a combined $5.26 billion and are committed to aligning these collective investment assets to their missions.

For more information, or to inquire about joining the circle, please download this information sheet to learn more, or contact Katheryn Witt.

Following is a snapshot of successes and insights to-date:

  • The Polk County Community Foundation shifted assets from a national investment firm to serving people locally.
  • The Hamilton Community Foundation has committed to shifting 20% of their donor advised funds to be used for place-based impact investing, and has invested in a multitude of opportunities including a large-scale affordable home ownership project, an aboriginal housing project, and an innovative food center.
  • Rhode Island Foundation created an impact investing policy to start with a shift of 5% of their endowment to be directed towards place-based impact investing.
  • The Circle is personally and professionally transformative. I have seen community foundation leaders move from confusion and not knowing about place-based impact investing to dramatic new clarity and amazingly effective new projects. Something powerful happens here. I’ve rarely seen anything like it.” – Marjorie Kelly, The Democracy Collaborative 
  • The Community Foundation Circle is accelerating my learning and our organizational work on impact investing in ways that would not otherwise be possible. It is a carefully curated and well executed experience, and is transforming our opportunities in our community.” – Mauri Ingram, Whatcom Community Foundation