Community Impact Investing

Community Impact Investing

The Community Foundation for Monterey County (CFMC) makes a meaningful difference to donors, nonprofit organizations and the individuals who benefit from their services, working together towards a vision of “healthy, safe, vibrant communities.” Community Impact Investment is a way to utilize the assets of the foundation beyond grantmaking for the good of the community.

The CFMC continually looks for ways to deepen its community impact. The Community Impact Investment (CII) program is a way to utilize the assets of the foundation beyond grantmaking for the good of the community. The CII initiative was created in 2018 to strengthen communities through investments. Impact investments are not grants. They are placements of capital intended to bring market or nearmarket returns. An allocation for CII is included in our Investment Policy Statement as part of the fixed income asset class.

“While a fairly small allocation, it means CFMC investment dollars are being placed locally, addressing local issues, and still bringing a competitive return to the portfolio,” explained Dan Baldwin, CFMC President/CEO. “If CFMC assets can assist in building stronger communities, help people achieve their economic goals and receive a return, everyone wins.”

A Brief History of Impact

Initially, the CFMC used Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) as intermediaries, rather than making direct loans. The CFMC committed $750,000 to California FarmLink and $1,000,000 to Accion Opportunity Fund for low cost loans to small businesses. The CFMC investment portfolio will receive a guaranteed rate of return from these organizations. FarmLink, which connects the next generation of sustainable farmers and ranchers with land and financing, reports that the CFMC loan allowed them the flexibility to respond to the evolving economic impact of COVID-19.

Thanks to the CFMC’s investments, small farmers like me receive support and capital to establish our own businesses. Our farms’ success makes local communities stronger.” – Javier Zamora Owner, JSM Organics, FarmLink client, Member USDA National Organic Standards Board

During the first half of 2021, this investment supported 20 loans to primarily Latina and Latino farm businesses in Monterey County, providing necessary relief to weather the ongoing economic shock from the pandemic. Accion Opportunity Fund provides flexibly structured financing to small business owners in underserved communities operating in Monterey County who would otherwise have difficulty securing financing. They made 34 loans in 2020 and two loans in 2021 and anticipate increased demand. They serve lower-income minority business owners and entrepreneurs.

In 2021, the CII committee authorized a $500,000 loan for Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) for El Pajaro CDC Fondo Adelante to provide financing to underserved businesses in Monterey County. In 2021, the committee approved a $250,000 loan to Community Housing Improvement Systems & Planning Association (CHISPA) for predevelopment costs for an affordable housing project in King City. The CFMC will continue to work with CHISPA to identify potential opportunities for funding collaboration on other housing development projects. Most recently, the CFMC approved a loan of $1,000,000 to the United Way of Monterey County towards the purchase of the Community Impact Center in Salinas.

The CFMC will continue to look for ways to broaden and deepen its impact through the CII program.