Racial Equity & Impact Investing: "Using our endowment to maintain the status quo is not an option"
Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, shares in an article published in Stanford Social Innovation Review how the foundation she leads embarked on a path to transform its endowment and achieve racial equity.
"For foundations, the path to achieving racial equity starts with a simple choice: Do you use your endowment to maintain the status quo, or do you align your investments with your mission?" West-Scantlebury asks.
The road to transform the foundation's endowment has much to do with the initiative of Andrea Dobson, chief operating and financial officer. "She envisioned aligning our mission and financial investments by increasing capital access to low-wealth communities, and identifying investment firms owned and/or led by women or people of color," West-Scantlebury writes. "She also envisioned investing in venture strategies that provide capital to racially and ethnically diverse entrepreneurs, and to women."
Nowadays, years later, "close to 36 percent of the foundation's endowment, amounting to more than $47.1 million, is mission aligned and invested with firms led by people of color or women," states West-Scantlebury.
Reflecting on their path, West-Scantlebury says:
Our journey started with a simple choice to align mission and investments, along with discipline, courage, and collaboration between board members and investment advisors. We drew on foundation colleagues leading by example, an extensive body of literature on how to do it, and the expertise of investment managers who could help make it happen in partnership with our board.
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