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Published on September 22, 2021

Why We’re Moving to Impact Investing

Impact investing takes root at Cone Health FoundationPhilanthropy and the practice of grantmaking have traditionally been very separate from investing in both culture and approach. CHF's Board is committed to doing things differently by choosing an investment strategy that is socially responsible.

Our Board believes that CHF’s investment portfolio should also be leveraged to build a more equitable Greensboro. By reaching beyond grantmaking and reconsidering our investment strategy, we can keep the future of the planet and the people who populate it central to our mission.

We are aligning our investment strategy with our values to enhance our impact and performance.

Robert Pompey, Chair of our Investment Committee, explained it this way: “It can be hard to align your investments with your values, but it's critical to living the change you want to see.”

Why we’re changing how we invest

Our primary reason was not wanting to invest in companies that cause harm in the communities we serve. Why give with one hand while taking away with the other? Instead, CHF wanted to make investments that amplify the work of our grantees. Why use only a portion of our assets for impact when we could use them all?

Over the years, CHF has put its support behind many worthy causes. We still do. However, CHF determined there was no way it could claim to be focused on changing systems and policies that are neither sustainable nor fair if it didn’t lend its weight and voice to altering the status quo in the enormously influential financial markets. The markets have profound impact on the issues and communities we care about. Foundations like CHF are products of, and active participants in, these markets. Impact investing is about how we participate — another way we show up to change systems.

Impact investing close to home

M&F Board of Directors - Then and NowMechanics and Farmers Bank Board of Directors
Left to right: Cedric Russell, Dexter Perry
(recently expired term), Connie White,
Willie Closs, Jim Sills, Jim Stewart.

The old adage, “think global and act local,” is a moniker the Foundation has taken to heart, investing in community banks like Greensboro’s Mechanics & Farmers Bank (M&F). They take in deposits and distribute loans that feed into a self-sustaining micro-economy, keeping funds in North Carolina. Deposits are used to support local businesses, homebuyers, and everyday consumers. And the proceeds from the businesses employ residents, fund municipalities, and continue the cycle of local based economic growth.

M&F is the second oldest minority-owned bank in the United States. This state-chartered commercial bank was founded in 1907 and has branches in Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem.

M&F Board of Directors - Then and NowMechanics and Farmers Bank Founders in 1907

Their start came at the turn of the century when African Americans were (and still are) navigating tremendous obstacles to participating in the economy. Our banking and political system presented active barriers to obtain financing for business ventures or homes. Equally few were options to safely place money on deposit and earn interest with established banks, so the Black community created their own. Read more about M&F Bank’s history here. 

With a recent deposit at M&F, and earlier investments with Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) and Self-Help Credit Union, Cone Health Foundation has $4.8 million invested locally with partners focused on the financial needs of underserved populations. Institutions like LCCU serve members from 134 different countries; 65% are previously unbanked and 79% are low income. By creating and protecting economic opportunity for all, especially people of color, women, rural residents and low-wealth families, responsible financial services are more widely available through these credit unions.

Use these links to learn more about:

Expanding Medicaid in NC

Medicaid Expansion Report

Cone Health Foundation is proud to partner with Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust on an update of their first-of-its-kind study: The Economic and Employment Benefits of Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina: June 2019 Update.

View the Results