The Our Region, Your Investment initiative is going strong. Within its first seven months, it surpassed the original goal of $5 million in investments. Since January of 2016, almost $12 million has been invested in the initiative by foundations, banks, nonprofits, and individuals. And all of these investment dollars have been deployed in projects around the region.
Recently, the initiative hit a different milestone – its first ever return investor. So we asked Nancie Suzuki, executive director of the Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation, to tell us why the Foundation initially decided to invest and what brought them back to the table – with more resources – to support Our Region, Your Investment a second time.
– Gretchen Greiner-Lott, Vice President of WRAG
Making a Direct Social Impact
By Nancie Suzuki
Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation
The Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation made our first investment with WRAG’s Our Region, Your Investment initiative about one year ago when our board agreed to start moving a portion of the investment portfolio into the impact investing space. We came across the opportunity after spending about a year researching possible investments and finding that there were not a lot of options in the D.C. region. The journey was a difficult one, and we wanted to find something that would have direct social impact in our community.
It took us a year to change our investment policy and then to invest in Environmental Social Governance (ESG) funds. However, to make deep impact, the Foundation wanted to invest in options that were local and in line with our mission. Furthermore, as a small staff, it was a challenge for us to do the due diligence to find a trustworthy investment.
The Foundation’s mission is to help uplift communities, and we believe that affordable housing is an important part of that mission. Our Region, Your Investment was a great fit for our first direct impact investment. Although we trust WRAG, we started out small with a $100,000 investment to ensure we were being fiscally responsible (since we invested it as a mission related investment). A year later, the investment met its financial obligations and exceeded our expectations in social impact. The number of affordable homes saved in the D.C. region since our investment is over 450, but there is still so much need. Therefore, we recently invested an additional $750,000. This is the kind of opportunity that allows foundations like ours – with small staffs and limited resources – to have a direct impact in our community.
Join us on October 24th at 12 pm for WRAG’s Impact Investor Network (WIIN). This session, hosted at WRAG, will be the first in a series of informal brown bag lunch gatherings that will provide an opportunity to learn and share with your colleagues about local impact investing opportunities, challenges, best practices and available resources. At this first meeting, Nancie Suzuki will be on hand to share more with us about the Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation’s journey to identify the right local impact investment opportunity.