Earlier this year, the UUA Board of Trustees voted to increase the allocation of the UU Common Endowment Fund to community investing from one percent to five percent of the portfolio. Based on the market value of UUCEF assets as of March 31, 2020, this expanded commitment will pump hundreds of thousands more dollars of financing into low-income communities this year—and millions over time. These investments are needed now more than ever, as low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. The fivefold increase in community investing is part of the UUCEF’s overall work to serve congregations by managing assets in a manner consistent with both UU values and with the endowment’s risk and return objectives.
What is Community Investing?
Community investing is financing that creates resources and opportunities for economically disadvantaged people and communities. Community investing supports development initiatives in low-income communities both in the United States and in the Global South. This financing creates access to affordable financial services and financial education, loans for first-time homebuyers and affordable housing development, micro and small business development, community services, and venture capital financing. Community investing institutionsinclude community development banks, credit unions, loan funds (including microenterprise lenders), venture capital funds, and other institutions that offer investment products that support community development.
Recent UUCEF Community Investments
The UUCEF has recently made new community investments in Boston Impact Initiative and the Ujima Fund, both of which have an intentional focus on capital supporting people of color and cooperative values. The Working World Inc. (dba Seed Commons), another recent investment, is a network of more than 25 member funds supporting cooperative development nationwide. For a list of the UUCEF’s community investments as of the end of March 2020, click here.
Congregations and their communities can also benefit from the UUA’s Community Development Match Program, which matches investments in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) up to $10,000. Download the form and learn more here.
Expanding Our Impact
The recommendation for the increased commitment to community investing was made jointly by the Investment Committee and the Socially Responsible Investing Committee, which at the same time presented updates to the Socially Responsible Investing Guidelines for approval by the Board. The two committees are working in an integrated fashion toward the dual purpose of investing in alignment with our UU values and achieving market returns over a full market cycle. We employ community investing, shareholder advocacy, proxy voting and screening to advance UU values such as anti-racism, climate justice, and centering of indigenous people’s voices.
Learn More at Virtual General Assembly 2020
Members of the Investment Committee and the Socially Responsible Investing Committee will be participating in the virtual General Assembly from June 24-28. Look for us in the Virtual Exhibit Hall, in discussion of the proposed Business Resolution on Embodying Human Rights in Our Investment Decisions, and at our workshop on Mobilizing Investments to Advance UU Values. Program details will soon be available here.