Giving Compass' Take:

• Wharton summarizes how the Ford Foundation is investing in economic justice with inclusive funding towards equitable housing opportunity.

• How can we make sure funds are actually furthering justice before investing? What are your plans for investing in economic justice and equitable housing policies? 

• Read about why philanthropists have an obligation to invest in economic justice.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are in the DNA of the Ford Foundation. The New York-based foundation puts its money where others offer only lip service to changing the abysmal statistics on investment in women- and minority-owned firms. Market allocation is at 1% of roughly $70 trillion in total U.S. assets under management; the Ford Foundation’s Mission Investments endowment has allocated 57%.

“Tools are only powerful when you use them. The great thing about the Ford Foundation is that it has these tools, and it’s using the capital tools,” said Roy Swan, director of Mission Investments for Ford. “We hope to act as an example and to provide a road map of sorts for those like-minded people who want to help advance economic justice, social justice.”

In June, the Ford Foundation launched a $26 million Impact Developers Fund along with Morgan Stanley and TruFund Financial Services. The program will provide capital and technical assistance to minority- and women-owned real estate development companies that have faced institutional barriers to adequate and affordable capital. In addition, the fund will target companies that are building affordable, quality housing.

Swan said the program is important because there is a critical shortage of affordable housing, and much of it has been built by white male developers trying to create products for disadvantaged populations that they do not always understand.

“There are many reasons why there aren’t many Black or brown developers,” he said. “Much of it has to do with the same lack of access to capital that was demonstrated by that 1% statistic of assets under management [by minority-owned firms]. If you look at another simple gage … in SBA loan programs, African Americans are lucky if they get 2% of the total value of SBA programs.”

Read the full article about investing in economic justice by Katherine Klein talks with Roy Swan at Wharton.