We test innovative investment approaches to address the racial wealth gap, shift power within the capital systems and achieve better outcomes for all people in U.S. cities.
In a few decades, Black, Latinx and other communities of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population. Yet the vast racial wealth gap—starkest between white and Black households—and barriers to accessing capital, launching and growing businesses, and building wealth persist for this “New Majority.” These inequities are not only unjust; they are also an urgent economic imperative.
We leverage our impact investing funds to address this increasing urgency, accelerate social change, and harness unmet financial opportunity. We harness our influence in the field, relationships, and unique risk models to test alternatives to traditional models of risk perception and assessment, and to encourage investors to deploy capital to fund managers and founders of color.
For over a decade, Living Cities has made impact investments through our two funds: the $38 million Catalyst Fund, which closed in 2008 and is fully repaid, and the $37 million Blended Catalyst Fund, which blends grant dollars, philanthropic and commercial debt and is now fully committed. In 2018, we refocused the impact strategy for the Blended Catalyst Fund exclusively on testing innovative solutions to close racial income and wealth gaps. In addition, we have built a community of practice of principally Black fund managers and investors. This network, called Builders & Benefactors, helps us build evidence about challenges fund managers of color face in accessing investment and advisor networks, and helps us explore innovative capital structures to address racial barriers.
Now, we are determining the optimal design of a new Living Cities fund dedicated to closing racial income and wealth gaps, given our history, lessons from our work, and the needs of the field. We take seriously our unique position as a researcher in the field, and are committed to sharing what we learn along the way about innovative approaches to rewrite how capital systems work.