Investing in an America where racial equity and economic mobility rise together
Dear friends and colleagues,
This time last year, we at Blue Meridian began rolling out our next strategic plan – a multiyear roadmap for growth that centered on racial equity and focused on expanding our regional investing, readying more organizations for scaling, and innovating across all aspects of our work.
And then the world turned upside down as the global pandemic forced us into lockdown and upended our lives.
The events that would follow – the compounding, persisting effects of our nation’s health, economic, and racial justice crises – led us to accelerate and adapt our plans across the board to be responsive to the moment.
We’ve been fortunate and humbled over the past year to work with investees, staff, and Partners whose commitment and leadership helped meet the urgent needs of millions of people while continuing to advance our long-term efforts to boost economic mobility and catalyze our nation’s inclusive recovery.
We know that the pursuit of a truly equitable and just recovery will require a sustained cross-sector response to the enormous challenges and opportunities our nation faces. That intensified commitment is now woven through our strategic plan. We’re glad to have this opportunity to share with you our priorities for investing in 2021 and beyond.
Expanding our regional investments because “Place Matters”
We have long known that, in America, geography is destiny: your life chances are inextricably tied to where you are born and live. For people born into poverty, their talent confronts too many roadblocks and their resilience is taxed by systemic racism, baked over generations into the fabric of their environments. To address these intertwined challenges, we are working to more comprehensively align and scale solutions at nationwide, regional, and local levels.
We began exploring how to do this in 2019, when Jim Shelton first joined Blue Meridian as entrepreneur-in-residence. From that work emerged our strategy to expand our regional investing portfolio, building upon our early experience with place-based collaboratives in Tulsa, OK and Guilford County, NC.
When the pandemic hit, Blue Meridian Partners, with additional anchor funding from Ballmer Group, fast-tracked the development of the Place Matters portfolio to channel capital for early planning and targeted initiatives to a dozen place-based partnerships across the country, from Spartanburg, SC to Fresno, CA. These investments enable proximate, local leaders to build stepping stones for equitable recovery and strategies that support young people’s success from cradle to career. We’re also working with several leading organizations to provide catalytic supports essential to the success of these partnerships – resources like data collection and analysis, technology, and policy development and engagement.
Together with these local partners and others, we will explore questions such as: How can we help shift and support the building of local power and increased opportunity within historically disenfranchised communities? How do we stimulate the flow of more capital, blending local and national public- and private-sector investment to scale and sustain place-based work?