Croatan Institute is an independent, nonprofit research institute whose mission is to harness the power of investment for social good and ecological resilience by working at the critical nexus where sustainability, finance, and economic development intersect. With initial funding from foundations, sustainable investment groups, civil society, and community development organizations, the Institute’s activities address some of the most complex sustainability challenges of our time, often in close partnership with practitioners in the field and movements for social and environmental change.  

The Institute’s initial projects have centered around fossil-free pathways for a more resilient future and develop new models of impact investing, new approaches to engagement with corporations on social and environmental issues, and new forms of sustainable investment in underserved communities, clean energy infrastructure, sustainable food systems, and alternative economic paradigms. 

The Institute’s team includes a group of committed, interdisciplinary experts, researchers, and critics working on issues such as climate change and energy, environmental and social impact investing, food and agriculture, inequality, institutional accountability, international development, land use, labor and social equity, social history and theory, resilient community development, sustainable and responsible investment, transportation, and water.  

Launched publicly on Earth Day in 2014 in the Research Triangle of North Carolina with an extended team based in Boston, New York, and Geneva, Croatan Institute was initially incubated at Tellus Institute, the Boston-based sustainability think tank where several of the founding team members and advisers remain affiliated.  The Institute is governed by a board of concerned citizens and environmental entrepreneurs and counseled by a Board of Advisers drawn from a diverse cross-section of leaders representing organizations working on environmental sustainability and social equity in science, civil society, business, and academe.


Croatan Institute’s name draws inspiration from the Native American Croatan people associated with the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke, the first effort at English settlement in the Americas.  In the late sixteenth century, families of more than 100 English-speaking colonists settled on an island nestled between the Outer Banks and the inland coast of present-day North Carolina.  Within the space of less than three years, the colonists had mysteriously vanished.  When the colony’s governor returned to rejoin the settlers, his crew found an abandoned settlement with the word “Croatoan” carved in a gate post and the letters “CRO” on the trunk of a tree.  Read more.


  • sustainersArchimedes' Point
  • supportersMatthew Patsky
  • stalwartsBig Path Capital
  • stalwartsRichard S. Bookbinder
  • stalwartsBreckinridge Capital Advisors
  • stalwartsClean Land LLC
  • stalwartsJason Cooke
  • stalwartsErickson Advisors
  • stalwartsEssex Investment Management Company LLC
  • stalwartsDavid and Jocelyn Sand
  • stalwartsTrillium Asset Management
  • stalwartsMary Ellen and John Zellerbach

Learn more about the Founders Circle Campaign here.



Archimedes' Point

The Baffler Foundation

Big Path Capital

Boston Common Asset Management

Breckinridge Capital Advisors

Calvert Investments

Center for Rural Entrepreneurship

Church Impact

Clean Energy Group

Clean Yield Asset Management

Community Capital Management

Confluence Philanthropy

Democracy Collaborative

Divest-Invest Philanthropy

Earthwise Organics

Erickson Advisors

Essex Investment Management Company LLC

Farmland LP

Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises (FAHE)

Fifth Season Ventures

First Affirmative Financial Network

Ford Foundation

Fossil Free Indexes

Global Fund for Women

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)

Good Capital

Green Century Funds

ImpactUs Marketplace

Jonathan Rose Companies

McIntosh County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (McIntosh SEED)

Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED)

Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF)

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.

Organic Valley

Out Leadership

Pathstone Federal Street

Pax World Management, LLC

Rachel's Network
Rainforest Action Network

RBC Global Asset Management

Responsible Endowments Coalition

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Root Capital

Saxapahaw General Store

SEIU Capital Stewardship


Social Justice Fund NW

Southern Partners Fund

Sustainable Endowments Institute

Tellus Institute

Thirty Percent Coalition


Trillium Asset Management

TS Designs

Walden Asset Management

Wallace Global Fund

Weaver Street Market

Working Landscapes

Yellow Wood Associates