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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: January 2018

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Global Use Of Mosquito Nets For Fishing Is Potential Threat To Both Humans And Nature

First-ever global assessment reveals full scale of the practice and calls for collaborative solutions

Press Release – Mosquito nets distributed to combat malaria in developing tropical countries are being routinely used for fishing instead, according to the first-ever attempt to gauge the international scale of a practice that is of increasing concern to the global conservation and healthcare communities alike.

Published today (31/01/17) in the journal PLOS ONE, this collaborative study* between international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Oxford University and Imperial College London highlights the widespread nature of mosquito net fishing (MNF) – raising questions regarding the threats to biodiversity this practice poses, as well as its impact on both the fish populations that represent critical sources of food for many poor people, and human health.

The researchers surveyed expert witnesses living and working in malarial zones around the world, in order to produce a rapid global assessment of the extent and characteristics of MNF. The study found evidence that this practice occurs to some extent across most of the world’s tropical latitudes, impacting a broad range of different marine and freshwater habitats and species.

Commenting on the study, lead author Rebecca Short from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology said: “Recent decades have seen the broad distribution of free or subsidised mosquito nets, which has had a hugely important impact on reducing incidences of malaria in developing countries. While anecdotal evidence has long existed about these mosquito nets often being diverted into artisanal fishing, our study represents the first concerted attempt to gauge the scale and extent of this problem worldwide.

“We are wholly supportive of the efforts of the healthcare community to tackle this disease, which is so damaging to many people’s lives, but there needs to be further research into the potential impacts of this unintended consequence.”

Particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, MNF is conducted at a range of scales, using a variety of different fishing methods that often result in the capture of juvenile fish. This may undermine fisheries’ management efforts, potentially threatening these fish stocks and the human populations that rely on them for their survival. However, the study also points to this activity often being conducted by vulnerable fishers, providing a valuable source of food for poor families and calling in to question whether simply criminalising MNF is an appropriate response.

As well as attempting to measure the true scale of the issue, the study makes a number of recommendations for policy priorities designed to mitigate against, and address the drivers of, MNF in the future. These include better planning for mosquito net distribution efforts and for their disposal after use, as part of efforts to protect marine and freshwater biodiversity whilst conserving vital fish stocks.

Co-author Rajina Gurung who led on the collection of eyewitness accounts whilst at Imperial College London, commented: “We tried to get our survey out to as many people in the international healthcare, conservation and fisheries communities as possible, and the response was geographically very broad. Madagascar, as an example, appears to have people fishing with these nets along much of its coastline and inland waters.”

Co-author Professor EJ Milner-Gulland from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, University of Oxford added: “We hope that this study will encourage closer cooperation between healthcare, international aid/development bodies and conservationists to develop collaborative solutions to a complex issue that is linked to wider issues of poverty and food shortages in these malaria-afflicted regions.”

Rebecca Short from ZSL’s Institute of Zoology is also scheduled to address The Alliance for Malaria Prevention (AMP) Annual Partner Meeting in Geneva in February 2018, regarding the findings of both this study and a recent cross-sectoral meeting supported by the Oxford Martin School, aimed at producing inter-disciplinary recommendations to policy makers on ways forward in tackling this complex problem. For more information, please visit: http://allianceformalariaprevention.com/about/amp-annual-partners-meeting/

*Rebecca Short, Rajina Gurung, Marcus Rowcliffe, Nicholas Hill, EJ Milner-Gulland. ‘The use of mosquito nets in fisheries: a global perspective’. PLOS ONE. 2018.

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0191519


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GANT Enters Partnership With Waterkeeper Alliance

Every day, approximately 2 million tons of industrial and agricultural waste and sewage is discharged into our waterways. By partnering with Waterkeeper Alliance, the largest and fastest-growing non-profit focusing solely on clean water, GANT will support the organization’s mission through an annual charity contribution. This partnership will serve as GANT’s next step on an environmentally conscious journey to make the world a better and more beautiful place.

Press Release – January 31, Stockholm, Sweden: Having been founded on the East Coast of America, marine life has always mattered to GANT. That’s why the company is committed to a long-term global partner-ship supporting Waterkeeper Alliance through the CRM program, global donations, and staff engagement and support. The goal is to help protect drinkable, fishable and swimmable water around the globe, while combating issues such as pollution and climate change.

”Never Stop Learning is the philosophy that moves GANT forward,” says Chief Marketing Officer Brian Grevy. “We focus on being better, learning more, and looking beyond ourselves and our products. With fashion production con-tributing to the pollution of our waterways, we need to be more conscious about efficiently using valuable resources. As a global brand, we feel that it’s important for GANT to take responsibility and encourage the industry to do bet-ter, which is why we’re looking into sustainable ways to use ocean plastic for our upcoming collections.”

“The Waterkeeper movement protects more than 2.5 million square miles of waterways around the world,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “In 2017, we launched an innovative project to help reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. Thanks to our partnership with GANT, we will take our work defending marine envi-ronments from plastic to the next level.”

Starting on January 31, 2017, GANT’s partnership with Waterkeeper Alliance will introduce a set of initiatives to patrol and protect rivers, streams and coastlines on six continents. The first step of this mission is the Ocean Plastic Recovery Initiative, in which GANT will contribute to expanding Waterkeeper Alliance’s recovery facility and operation in Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

GANT

GANT is the original American lifestyle brand with Europe-an sophistication, offering premium clothing, accessories and home furnishings for men, women and kids. Born in 1949 on the campuses of the American East Coast univer-sities and raised in Europe, GANT enjoys a global presence in over 70 markets, 750 stores and 4,000 selected retailers. Please visit gant.com for more information.

Waterkeeper Alliance

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations and affiliates around the world, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. The Water-keeper movement patrols and protects over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastlines in the Ameri-cas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. For more informa-tion please visit waterkeeper.org.


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Montage Health Receives Unprecedented $105.8 Million Gift To Transform Mental Healthcare For Children, Teens

Press Release – MONTEREY, CA – Roberta “Bertie” Bialek Elliott wanted to do something transformational in the place she calls home. And she has — donating $105.8 million to Montage Health Foundation, the largest gift ever in Monterey County and one of the most significant philanthropic commitments nationwide over the past decade.

The extraordinary gift will be devoted exclusively to creating an innovative approach to child and adolescent behavioral health. Elliott chose the name Ohana — Hawaiian for “family”— for the unprecedented venture that will include everything from a bricks-and-mortar Ohana House to early intervention, comprehensive support for young people and their families, and partnerships with an extensive collection of community organizations.

“Very few people are fortunate enough to be able to give a gift of this size, and there are even fewer who have the vision to fund this particular cause,” said Montage Health President/CEO Dr. Steven Packer. “Bertie Bialek Elliott said that she was concerned that, if she didn’t do it, a transformational gift to fund this needed program might never occur. We are exceedingly grateful for her tremendous generosity and the spirit in which she gave this historic gift.”

Elliott previously gave a $100 million gift to her alma mater, Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She and her three daughters established the Berkshire Foundation in 1996 and have supported many organizations and institutions through it. She was an early investor in Berkshire Hathaway, founded by her brother, legendary investor Warren Buffett.

Elliott’s confidence in Montage Health, the parent company of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, led to her latest remarkable gift. She has served on Montage Health’s board of trustees and been a leading force behind and generous supporter of other projects, including Community Hospital’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Family Birth Center, and Inpatient Rehabilitation Center.

“Trust was number one for me,” Elliott said. “I knew that whatever I decided on, it would happen. I have faith in Steve (Packer) and everyone else at Montage Health to carry it through.”

Elliott had expressed interest in making a transformational gift to Montage Health, and after being presented with several options, she chose behavioral health services for children and teens.

“It popped right out that this was something that wouldn’t happen without a special, big gift,” Elliott said. “Montage Health, in general, is one of the few places that touches everyone in our community sooner or later. This benefits the community as a whole.”

Statistics bear out the need:

  • 1 in 13 California children suffer from a mental illness that limits participation in daily activities, according to the California Health Care Foundation
  • A survey in 2014-2017 by the California Department of Education found that nearly 1 in 3 Monterey high school students suffered depression-related feelings.
  • California has fewer than 1,050 child psychiatrists to serve more than 9 million children and teens.
  • 44 of California’s 58 counties — including Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz — have no child/adolescent psychiatric beds, according to the California Hospital Association

In Monterey County, when crisis strikes for a young person and their family, children and adolescents may spend several days in an emergency room, waiting for a bed to be located in a county 2 or more hours and more than 100 miles away. Often, they return to the emergency department, where the cycle begins again.

“Clearly, there is a pressing need to completely change — to transform — the way this kind of care is provided and to intervene much earlier and much more thoughtfully to prevent issues from reaching a crisis point,” Packer said. “That vision could only be realized with a level of support that is unprecedented in our community.”

The first step in this transformational undertaking is a national search for an innovator in pediatric/adolescent behavioral health. This clinical director will be charged with creating and maintaining an unparalleled program of care.

Following that, over the course of the next 5 years, there will be the extensive development of programs throughout the community that involve the entire family, schools, pediatricians, community and government organizations, and others. There will also be the construction of Ohana House, the hub for all things Ohana. Ohana House will be a warm and welcoming place, with inpatient care in a peaceful, healing environment, as well as a broad range of outpatient programs, services, and partnerships.

A significant portion of the gift will be placed in an endowment, to provide funding for Ohana into the future. Plans for the overall project are very preliminary and subject to change as the project moves from concept to reality.

As envisioned, Ohana House would be built on property owned by Montage Health at Ryan Ranch in Monterey and would include:

  • 18- 24 inpatient beds, with separate areas for boys and girls
  • Indoor and outdoor recreational and quiet spaces
  • An outpatient treatment wing
  • Rooms for one-on-one and family counseling
  • Work and office space for community activities
  • Educational space for training and workshops

All the Ohana efforts will be focused on innovation, creating a new model of child and adolescent behavioral healthcare with elements that can be replicated in other communities since the issues faced in Monterey County know no borders or bounds.

“Our goal is to use Bertie Bialek Elliott’s gift to develop a program that can be emulated by others throughout the nation,” Packer said. “We consider this an investment in the future of countless children and families and we are committed to being the best stewards possible. We have always been committed not only to innovation, but to doing the right thing. This is the right thing. We are ready to go.”

Go to www.montagehealth.org/ohana for more information.


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Better World International CEO, Corey Harnish, Featured in Happiness.org Inspiration Gallery on The Good Cards

Press Release – PALO ALTO, CA (30 January, 2018) – Corey Harnish, CEO of Better World International (BWI), the tech gaming nonprofit that combines a vision of a better world with technology-driven solutions for social change, is featured in the Inspiration Gallery of Happines.org this month. Corey’s interview showcases the origins and goals of The Good Cards, BWI’s flagship project, a digital platform that empowers people to perform acts of kindness and good deeds in a fun and meaningful way.

“I’m honored to be included with other inspirational groups, and to have The Good Cards project showcased in Happiness.org,” Corey said. “You know you’re onto something when your project is highlighted alongside other beautiful initiatives that are making a difference in the world.”

Created by and for idealists on-the-go, The Good Cards offers a dynamic journey that integrates customized user preferences for the ultimate kindness adventure. The adventure begins with a recycled-plastic card and an app that tracks the ripple effect of each good deed. The Good Cards travel around the world and connect people who are committed to making a difference, one kind act at a time.

Please link here: https://www.happiness.org/acts-of-kindness-good-cards/ to view the complete article.

About Happiness.org

Happiness.org is a online magazine and Facebook community focused on sharing tools and practices that empower people to live happy and fulfilled lives, as well as facilitating a global community that co-creates a conscious humanity. Happiness.org is developing a social network and academy, launching in 2Q 2018, focused on creating an open and supportive community that fosters meaningful conversation and connections between students of different courses. Students and community members will be encouraged to share, practice, and learn together.

About Better World International and The Good Cards

Better World International (BWI) is a tech gaming nonprofit that combines a vision of a better world with technology-driven solutions for social change. BWI is an all volunteer team working on a series of real-life games are being developed to encourage a global trend of doing good, while empowering people to take small positive actions and see their impact in real time. The Good Cards, a Better World International project, is an innovative online-gaming platform and app that engages people worldwide in doing good deeds for happiness and global sustainability. Better World International is a 501(c)(3) and is soliciting donations to sustain its growth. Learn more about The Good Cards and please donate: www.thegoodcards.com


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Beneficial State Embarks On Second Decade Of Mission-Driven Growth With February 1st Albina Community Bank Merger

– Scale Demonstrates Viability of Triple-Bottom-Line Banking, Growing Potential for Positive Impact and Influence –

Press Release – PORTLAND, Ore. – Jan. 30, 2018 – Beneficial State Bank (Beneficial State) today announced that it will soon complete its third merger in ten years, a move that further strengthens its West Coast presence a decade after opening its first branch in Oakland, Calif. and affirms the vitality of triple-bottom-line banking committed to meaningful social justice outcomes and environmental well-being.

Following regulatory and board approval of its merger with Albina Community Bank (Albina), Albina’s five neighborhood branches in Portland, Ore., will open Thursday, Feb. 1 under the Beneficial State banner for a total of six in the city. The banks share the mission-driven Certified B Corporation® certification and recognition as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), together representing $782.8 million in deposits and a loan portfolio of $680.9 million comprising total assets of $935.8 million as of Dec. 31, 2017. The merger ensures the continuation of a well-capitalized, values-based CDFI banking option, and disseminates a model of personalized small business loans and deep community ties through the Beneficial State footprint.

“Historically, consolidation has been the enemy of community banks, stripping banks’ local commitments and accountability,” said Kat Taylor, Beneficial State cofounder and CEO. “Beneficial State’s growth demonstrates the potential to broaden reach and capacity while remaining rooted in community, focused on environmental imperatives, civic responsibilities and the underserved,” added Kay Toran, previous Albina board member and new Beneficial State board member.

With more than 75 percent of its loan portfolio funding mission categories such as renewable energy, affordable housing and women and minority-owned businesses, Beneficial State’s progressive model of mission-driven banking has scaled throughout the West, first through its acquisition of ShoreBank Pacific in 2011, then Pan American Bank in 2016 and now Albina. Its expanding products and services now strengthen communities in Washington, Oregon and California with 17 branches and 253 employees serving neighborhoods in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Rosa and California’s Central Valley.

“We are part of a growing movement that believes business must be a force for good,” said Beneficial State’s President and Chief Operating Officer Randell Leach. “There is a groundswell of people and businesses demanding divestment from initiatives that extract and insisting on values-based banking. Coming together allows us to further invest in the economic prosperity and environmental well-being of our neighborhoods and better serve our communities by providing greater access to financial resources.”

“Beneficial State has acted again and again to create necessary banking support for the equitable, prosperous, resilient future we all wish to see,” said Spencer Beebe, cofounder of ShoreBank Pacific and vanguard environmental nonprofit Ecotrust.

Looking to increase its impact, Beneficial State is investing in technology, products and services and advocacy to reach further into underserved communities and drive banking industry evolution into the next decade. This spring the bank will unveil a new online banking platform alongside a bevy of enhanced services for the majority of its Beneficial State customers. Integration for all customers will commence in summer and conclude in the third quarter of 2018. Beneficial State Foundation, which owns the majority of the economic rights to Beneficial State, will continue to augment the bank’s mission to change the banking system for good by being an advocate for values-based banking, helping municipalities align their banking with the values and aspirations of their residents, and publishing extensive reporting on the bank’s financial status and social and environmental impact at www.beneficialstate.org/impact.

About Beneficial State Bank


Beneficial State Bank (Beneficial State) is a state-chartered, federally insured and for-profit bank. Its economic rights is majority-owned by the non-profit Beneficial State Foundation, which is in turn permanently governed in the public interest. That ownership allows the bank to prove and maintain an innovative model for banking that generates prosperity for people and the planet and eschews no harm to any while being financially safe and sound. In 2011, Beneficial State acquired ShoreBank Pacific, integrating the pioneering environmentally sustainable bank into Beneficial State’s triple-bottom line organization. Beneficial State Bancorp completed a stock purchase transaction of 90.1 percent of Albina Community Bank (Albina) in 2013 to provide critical capital for a legendary Portland institution, and in 2017, Beneficial State Bancorp purchased the remaining shares. In June of 2016, Beneficial State acquired Pan American Bank to serve communities in the Central Valley and Los Angeles markets of California. Today, the combination of Beneficial State and Albina have $935.8 million in assets, 253 colleagues, and 17 locations in California, Oregon, and Washington. Albina and Beneficial State are both Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) as designated by the US Treasury and Certified B Corporations®, with Beneficial State ranking among the world’s top B Corps since becoming a Certified B Corporation in 2012. For additional information, visit http://www.beneficialstate.com. Member FDIC Insured, Equal Housing Lender.


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Delta, Duke University Launch First-Of-Its-Kind Partnership To Offset Carbon Emissions

By Kate Modolo

Commitment also benefits Raleigh-Durham urban areas with 1,000 new trees.

Delta Air Lines, the official airline of Duke Athletics, and Duke University, are expanding their partnership with a first-of-its-kind sustainability program.

Delta and Duke’s combined purchase of 5,000 carbon credits, simultaneously offsets carbon from all Duke University business travel on Delta in 2017, while supporting urban forestry in the Raleigh-Durham area through funding the planting and care of 1,000 new trees. A single carbon offset is equal to one metric ton of CO2 being removed from the air, while the 1,000 trees being planted locally will generate the removal of an additional 5,000 metric tons of CO2 from the air during their lifespan – together, that’s like neutralizing the carbon footprint of around 9,000 roundtrip flights between Atlanta and Los Angeles. The program is being facilitated by North Carolina-based Urban Offsets.

“Duke’s passion for offsetting their travel with Delta is multiplied by their commitment to use the offsets to improve certain Raleigh-Durham neighborhoods where tree canopies have all but disappeared,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Projects that build pride in local communities and expand our global sustainability efforts are what being part of a community is all about.”

Approximately half of the trees being planted will benefit historically disadvantaged Raleigh-Durham neighborhoods identified through a 2016 Duke Nicholas School of the Environment student-led report outlining the red-lining policies of the 1930s that resulted in trees being planted in mostly wealthy white neighborhoods.

Volunteers from Duke University, Keep Durham Beautiful and a local resident work together to plant trees in the Durham, NC Northbrook neighborhood. This was the second of 24 tree-planting events being held through March 2018, in various neighborhoods impacted by the red-lining policies of the 1930’s that resulted in the unfair distribution of trees.

Delta was the first U.S. airline to offer carbon offsets to customers and is the only airline to cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels by purchasing carbon offsets – more than 2.5 million in 2017 alone, and more than $8 million-worth since it started the voluntary effort. This new program builds on the global airline’s efforts to continue the carbon-neutral growth it has maintained since 2012, and builds on its industry-leading program that encourages customers to use the carbon calculator at delta.com/co2 to estimate their carbon emissions associated with trips and invest in carbon offset projects of their choice.

“This is a great example of the type of carbon offset project we’re interested in,” said Tallman Trask, Executive Vice President, Duke University. “Rather than seeking out the cheapest available carbon credits, we’re continuing to invest in projects with multiple benefits for our community in North Carolina. We’re happy for the opportunity to partner with Delta Air Lines and Urban Offsets to further catalyze this market.”

Adding trees to urban areas not only means more shade coverage and wildlife habitat, but also improved air quality, noise levels and storm-water control. Cities and their nonprofit partners often struggle to properly fund urban forestry initiatives. This first-of-its-kind carbon offsets program directly addresses that funding gap, helping to ensure every new urban tree can be cared for while it grows, and providing local volunteering opportunities for Duke University faculty, students and staff, as well as Delta employees.

“This model unites the sustainability goals of multiple organizations,” said Shawn Gagné, CEO and founder of Urban Offsets. “Cooperation is the key to addressing sustainability challenges, and Delta and Duke are true champions in this regard.”

About Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines serves more than 180 million customers each year. It is the only airline to be named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and has earned this position for seven consecutive years. In 2017, Delta was the recipient of Keep America Beautiful’ s 2017 Vision for America Award, was named to Fortune’s top 50 Most Admired Companies in addition to being named the most admired airline for the sixth time in seven years. Additionally, Delta has ranked No.1 in the Business Travel News Annual Airline survey for an unprecedented seven consecutive years. With an industry-leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 306 destinations in 52 countries on six continents. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta employs more than 80,000 employees worldwide and operates a mainline fleet of more than 800 aircraft. The airline is a founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance and participates in the industry’s leading transatlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia as well as a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 15,000 daily flights, with key hubs and markets including Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK and LaGuardia, London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City, São Paulo, Seattle, Seoul, and Tokyo-Narita. Delta has invested billions of dollars in airport facilities, global products and services, and technology to enhance the customer experience in the air and on the ground. Additional information is available on the Delta News Hub, as well as delta.com, Twitter @DeltaNewsHub, Google.com/+Delta, and Facebook.com/delta.

About Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative

In 2007, Duke University signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and set a target of achieving climate neutrality by 2024. After aggressively reducing emissions on campus, Duke will still have to offset an estimated 185,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2024. The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI) was created as a branch of Sustainable Duke to help Duke University achieve its climate neutrality goals. Since its beginning in 2009, it has developed a variety of innovative carbon offset programs including swine waste-to-energy, energy efficiency, solar energy, and urban forestry. The DCOI also acts as an academic offset project hub, collaborating with higher education institutions on joint projects and connecting other universities to the resources required for successful carbon offset projects.

About Urban Offsets

Greensboro, N.C.-based Urban Offsets helps corporations and higher education institutions invest carbon offsets in the places and relationships that matter to them. This transforms carbon offsets into assets that help fight climate change, strengthen strategic partnerships, and create climate resilient cities. Using a Sustainability Portfolio approach, Urban Offsets evaluates and grades carbon offsets and bundles them with community development programs that sustainably engage nonprofit partners in each city. Urban Offsets currently operates in 12 U.S. markets and supports more than 10,000 new trees planted in 2017. www.urbanoffsets.co.

Source: http://news.delta.com/delta-duke-university-launch-first-its-kind-partnership-offset-carbon-emissions


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Grameen America Celebrates 10 Years of Empowering Women through Microfinance as it Announces Foray into Impact Investing

Nonprofit opens its funding to impact investing through the first in a series of Social Business Funds

Press Release – JANUARY 30, 2018 — NEW YORK, NY — This month, Grameen America, the fastest growing microfinance organization in the United States, celebrates its 10-year anniversary of empowering low-income women entrepreneurs in underserved areas in the U.S. through affordable microloans. In tandem, the organization announced that it has expanded its investor base through impact investing after closing out its first Social Business Fund, which included both new and existing investors.

“We are thrilled to have established the first-ever social business fund by a U.S. microfinance organization. It’s an innovative solution that will enable impact at national scale and will help transform the lives of over 100,000 low-income women entrepreneurs and their families,” said Andrea Jung, President and CEO of Grameen America.

In its past 10 years of U.S. operations, Grameen America’s highlights include:

  • Disbursing more than $820 million dollars in microfinance loans to low-income women
  • Expanding to 20 branches across 13 cities in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • Serving over 98,000 low-income female entrepreneurs
  • Creating or maintaining 100,000+ American jobs
  • Facilitating more than 490,000 hours of financial literacy training
  • Achieving a 99% loan repayment rate

Previously, Grameen America had been funded largely by traditional philanthropy and concessionary capital from foundations, charitable organizations, individual investors, and commercial lenders. The organization’s adoption of impact investing as an additional means of funding comes at a time when impact investing—defined by the Global Impact Investing Network as “investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return”—is on the rise. It is estimated that impact investing is already a $114 billion sector, with 40% of funds originating in the U.S. and 58% from the for-profit asset management world.

As an initial endeavor, Grameen America launched and closed its Social Business Fund in the fall of 2017 to support its microloan portfolio growth. The fund was structured with nominal annual interest payments, a 20% first loss guarantee, and return of principal to investors targeted after five years.

“We wanted to offer our donor base an additional way to fund our growth,” said David Gough, CFO, Grameen America. “Our stakeholders are interested in the concept of impact investments that have great social returns while offering an economic return as well. This new funding vehicle will help us expand our outreach and better serve the communities we’re in.”

Grameen America plans to raise additional capital using innovative structures. Grameen America intends to use capital raised through new and traditional means, including donor contributions, so that the organization can achieve 100% sustainability and disburse up to $2 billion in loans to low-income women within the next five years.

Grameen America’s other plans for the future include opening up a branch in Houston, which has been affected by recent natural disasters. Grameen is also exploring expanding its footprint in other new markets.

About Grameen America:

Founded by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, Grameen America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit microfinance organization dedicated to helping women who live in poverty build small businesses to create better lives for their families. The organization offers microloans, training, and support to transform communities and fight poverty in the United States. Since opening in January 2008, Grameen America has invested over $820 million in more than 98,000 low-income women entrepreneurs. Started in Jackson Heights, Queens, Grameen America has expanded to 20 locations in New York City, Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Charlotte, NC, Indianapolis, IN, Los Angeles, CA, Newark, NJ, Omaha, NE, Oakland, CA, San Jose, CA, San Juan, PR, Union City, NJ, and Miami, FL. Learn more at www.grameenamerica.org.


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Registration Now Open For US SIF 8th Annual Conference “Investing For A Sustainable World,” May 30 – June 1, 2018

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C., January 30, 2018 – US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is hosting its 8th Annual Conference, “Investing for a Sustainable World,” from May 30 – June 1, 2018 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Registration is now open via the US SIF conference website.

The conference gives attendees an opportunity to hear from leading investors, CEOs and policymakers, learn about new approaches, trends and policy developments in the field and network with leaders in the field of sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI).

More than 450 participants are expected including representatives from investment management and advisory firms, asset owners, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers and community investing institutions and corporate leaders and policy makers.

Past US SIF conference speakers have included Vice President Al Gore; US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez; Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation; Bill McKibben, Co-Founder of 350.org; and Deborah Winshel, Managing Director and Global Head of Impact Investing at BlackRock. Videos of previous conference speakers can be found here. The 2018 conference speaker lineup and more detailed agenda will be released in late February.

Immediately before the opening of the conference on May 31, US SIF will offer a three-hour class on the Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The course, which requires a separate registration fee, is an introductory resource for investment advisors, financial planners and other financial professionals who want to learn the basics of sustainable, responsible and impact investment.

The Peter DeSimone Student Scholarship Program, now in its fifth year, provides six undergraduate or graduate students interested in a career in sustainable investment with an opportunity to attend the conference. Scholarship applications and videos of former Scholars are available on the conference website.

Committed sponsors for the 2018 conference include Lead Sponsor Natural Investments, Member Day Sponsor Bain Capital, Reception Sponsor Bloomberg, and Parnassus Investments, Pax World Investments, ISS-Ethix, Terna, ClearBridge Investments, Natixis Investment Managers, Trillium Asset Management, Domini Impact Investments, Calvert Research & Management, Eventide Asset

Management, S&P Dow Jones Indices, MSCI, Dana Investment Advisors, General Motors, Morgan Stanley, Sustainalytics, Campbell Soup Company, Calvert Impact Capital, North Sky Capital, Hartford Funds, Vigeo Eiris, Breckinridge Capital Advisors, KBI Global Investors, Walden Asset Management and Parametric. Firms interested in sponsoring the 2018 conference can learn more here.

About US SIF

US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the leading voice advancing sustainable, responsible and impact investing across all asset classes. Its mission is to rapidly shift investment practices toward sustainability, focusing on long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts. US SIF members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, pension funds, foundations and other asset owners, research firms, financial planners and advisors, broker-dealers, community investing institutions and nonprofit associations.

US SIF is supported in its work by the US SIF Foundation, a 501(C)(3) organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF, including offering classes for advisors and other financial professionals on the Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investment. The US SIF Foundation’s Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends is the definitive and most comprehensive report on the sustainable investment industry. The 12th edition will be released in late 2018.

Learn more at www.ussif.org.


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Social Impact Bonds Reach Global Mass: 108 Projects Launched In 24 Countries

  • Nearly $400m raised to tackle social issues globally
  • Nine countries launched first programs in 2017
  • US market sees largest market growth in 2016-7
  • First Social Impact Bond in Peterborough reduced reoffending by 9% and returned investor capital with a 3% annualized return in 2017
  • 10 Social Impact Bonds have reported a full capital return following successful positive outcomes for vulnerable adolescents, homeless youth and ex-offenders

Press Release – 30 January 2018 – Today, the Social Finance Global Network announced that there are now over 100 Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) launched worldwide. The Social Finance Impact Bond Global Database provides information on all 108 launched projects, which have collectively mobilized $392M in capital to reach up to 738,000 people in 24 countries.

The field has seen impressive growth since the first project was pioneered by Social Finance UK in 2010 in Peterborough, with a goal of reducing reoffending among short-sentenced prisoners, a chronic challenge in the UK criminal justice system. This summer it was announced that the Peterborough Social Impact Bond reduced reoffending by 9% and investors were repaid in full, with a 3% annualized return.

Social Impact Bonds build on key movements, including effective philanthropy, impact investing, and evidence-based policymaking. The goal is to drive systems change in how governments fund social services and how funders invest, in pursuit of measurable and lasting impact for communities. In 2017 alone, 33 Social Impact Bonds launched addressing health disparities, homelessness, child and family welfare, education, workforce development, and recidivism.

David Hutchison, CEO, Social Finance UK, commented: “I am delighted that the model we developed in Peterborough has gained so much traction. We are now seeing it adapted to support migrants in Finland, cancer survivors in the Netherlands, and new-borns in South Carolina and India. Social Impact Bonds draw in expertise and resources from the private, social, and public sectors to find high-quality solutions to challenges we face. This market is at an important juncture.”

To date, ten projects have reported that they have returned initial investor capital, with a return on investment. An additional eight Social Impact Bonds have reported that they have begun making payments to investors based on successful social outcomes.

The US market saw particularly strong growth in 2016-2017, with twelve deals launched that are collectively mobilizing over $130 million in capital. They include workforce development opportunities for refugees and immigrants and innovative in-home treatment for families struggling with substance use disorders.

The field has also seen widespread bipartisan support. Supporting legislation has been introduced or passed in over 20 states, and federal agencies, from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Education, have offered support for local governments to explore the model.

Tracy Palandjian, co-founder and CEO of Social Finance US said: “Social Impact Bonds are about delivering enduring results for our communities. The model brings together several key ideas whose time has come: government accountability, impact investing, and data-driven policy making. We are energized by the growth of Social Impact Bonds and are evolving our approach to catalyze meaningful progress on the entrenched social challenges we face.”

Yaron Neudorfer, co-founder and CEO of Social Finance Israel said: “As we enter 2018, we continue to grapple with immense challenges: economic inequality, aging populations, preventive medicine and more. We must unlock innovation and investment to design and deliver person-centric services to meet these challenges. By investing in prevention and early intervention, Social Impact Bonds give us an important tool in our toolkit.”

Social Impact Bonds are also gaining traction in low-income and developing countries. In recent months, there have been significant developments in Africa and Asia with the announcement of the $27M ICRC bond in Congo, Mali and Nigeria, the $2M OPIC program in Cameroon; and the $3.5M USAID project in Rajasthan. Social Impact Bonds are taking root in Latin America with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, where 15 programs are in development. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina will each see the launch of new Impact Bonds in 2018.

As the field grows, it is also evolving. Tools like outcomes funds and outcomes rate cards will allow Social Finance and others to expand the model and reach more individuals in need.

David Blood, Brace Young and Sir Ronald Cohen (chairs of Social Finance UK, US and Israel respectively) said: “The growth of the Impact Bond market shows how capital can be mobilised to deliver impact to those in need across the globe. But we should not tackle social issues one project at a time. We must test new ways to scale the model so as to deliver multiple interventions at the same time, to support what works at scale.”

For the Social Impact Bond database, please visit: http://sibdatabase.socialfinance.org.uk/


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Historic Tours Of America Donates To Sister Season Fund To Aid In Hurricane Irma Relief

Press Release – KEY WEST, FL – An overcast day was made sunny for some with the financial contributions made by long standing Key West business Historic Tours of America (HTA) to the Sister Season Fund. The fund, established in 2005, raises money that provides temporary financial relief for Key West locals employed by the tourism and hospitality industries in the event of a natural disaster.

“We hope that our contribution along with all the others can put this storm behind us and get all of us in our industry back on track towards a brighter future.” said HTA CEO, Christopher C. Belland. Ed Swift, HTA President, also added, “We are happy to donate to all the resilient people of Key West that work so hard to proudly represent our little corner of paradise to all our visitors from around the world.”

In the 13 years since it began, the Sister Season Fund has raised over $400,000 in assistance to Key West residents. The Board of Directors for the organization draw no paychecks and provide their services on a volunteer basis organizing over 10 fundraising events per year.

About Old Town Trolley Tours

Founded more than 30 years ago by Ed Swift, Chris Belland and Moe Mosher, Old Town Trolley Tours offers sightseeing tours in Key West, Boston, San Diego, Savannah, Washington DC, St. Augustine and Nashville, and has the largest fleet of themed sightseeing vehicles in the country. Guests are able to hop on and off and explore the more than 100 historic sights and attractions in each city at their leisure. Each Old Town Trolley Tour is fully narrated by a local historian who shares fun facts, colorful anecdotes and history about the city.


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