Oakland, CA – Today, the East Bay Community Foundation announced that it has repositioned all of its investment pools in a demonstration of fidelity to its mission; while continuing to generate positive financial returns for fund holders.
The results of a process that started over 12 months ago, the Foundation reevaluated all of its portfolios to take into consideration the social impact of its investments. “We made a series of adjustments to our portfolios so that they would more closely track the underlying indices against which we are measured, improve net performance by lowering fees, and make a greater social impact on the communities we serve,” said James Head, President & Chief Executive Officer.
In its Cash Pool, EBCF made a $16.8M investment in CD’s with four local community banks. These banks make loans to businesses and individuals in the East Bay, primarily providing capital to previously underserved neighborhoods. Partnering with community banks helps to strengthen communities by enabling residents to obtain bank financing while building the skills and tools necessary to increase the chances of small business success.
The Foundation also created an Opportunity Pool with $21M from its endowment to seek, find, and fund, best in class emerging investment managers. “We thought it was important to have the demographics of our investment managers resemble the community we serve and have emphasized hiring Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises (MWBE) in the Opportunity Pool,” said Chief Financial Officer Edward Harris. “To date, the Opportunity Pool has hired and funded eight (8) new managers and consultants (with seven (7) MWBE firms).
EBCF also dramatically increased its utilization of Socially Responsible Investing as a guideline for investment decisions. Its Environmental & Social Governance (ESG) Pool more than doubled in size — growing from $4.8M to $10.2M. Additionally, the Foundation is now using ESG screens within its traditional pools. At the close of 2018, EBCF replaced 10 active managers who were underperforming benchmarks and funded an ESG screened, indexed pool with $37M.
The Foundation now avoids fossil fuels, predatory lending, weapons’ manufacturers, companies involved in animal testing, and private prisons. Said CFO Harris, “We invest more heavily in firms that have better metrics in environmental performance, CEO Compensation, diversity in the workplace, good governance, clean technology solutions, and have a low carbon footprint.”
Moving forward, EBCF plans to expand more heavily into socially responsible investing and is in the process of developing an Investment Values Policy Statement. With the support of its board and staff, EBCF’s goal is to align its philosophy and practices with its mission of addressing inequity in the region and empowering those most marginalized in society.