Giving Compass' Take:

• Roy Swan and Darren Walker explain how the Ford Foundation has been using impact investing practices that put racial equity at the center of its work.

• The authors discuss the various ways the foundation is providing capital for justice initiatives. The Ford Foundation is doing this by funding diverse investment managers and forging partnerships with other entities that prioritize racial equity investments.  

• Read more about bringing racial equity to capital markets. 

Throughout this article series, it has been fascinating and encouraging to read the authors’ reflections on the importance of putting racial equity at the center of the impact investing movement—and the most effective ways of doing so at this pivotal moment. In preparing our contribution, we have been thinking about how the Ford Foundation’s use of impact investing tools, and our work on racial equity, have evolved over the past half-century, and how that history informs our path today.

At the height of the United States Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, the Ford Foundation was looking for new ways to invest its resources in marginalized communities. Already, it had used grants to support individual leaders and institutions—funding research and building fields like public interest law—but it was no secret that it would need to do more to address the tangled root causes of racial inequality.

In the 50 years since the development of PRIs, the Ford Foundation’s fight for racial equity and our use of new impact investing tools have gone hand in hand. As time has passed and tools and circumstances have changed, we’ve continuously looked for new ways to answer a version of that original question: How do we get more capital to the people and communities who truly need it?

Today, we use many types of resources to address inequality, and specifically racial and gender inequality, in all its forms. These include grants in our gender, racial, and ethnic justice program; PRIs; and mission-related investments committed from our endowment. While our philanthropic investment used to focus on only 5 percent of our resources, we are beginning to unlock the other 95 percent toward this goal, with a recent commitment to allocate up to $1 billion of the endowment for a new mission-related investment strategy.

Read the full article about impact investing for racial equity by Roy Swan & Darren Walker at Stanford Social Innovation Review.