Croatan Institute Awarded Second Nathan Cummings Foundation Grant to Advance Racial Equity in the Financial Landscape

Monday, April 23, 2022

Since its launch in 2014, Croatan Institute has made tackling structural racism in finance central to its mission. In response to the persistent racial segregation and lack of diversity we observed within the sustainable business and investing community (and financial services more broadly), we organized an internal “brain trust” composed of some of the Institute’s advisory board members.

In 2018, the Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability (REEFS) program was birthed from a convening of over 40 stakeholders, a majority identifying as professionals of color, to intentionally focus on racial equity within finance. The REEFS program has guided Croatan Institute’s programmatic direction on racial equity and has three strategic pillars of work.

Pillar 1: Redirecting finance to tackle structural racism by providing tools for investors to incorporate racial equity across asset classes.

Pillar 2: Readying students of color to make finance careers more accessible. 

Pillar 3: Engaging with farmers, landowners, small businesses, and other stakeholders of color to build greater financial health and resilience.

In 2020, REEFS was awarded its first grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) that funded the completion of research published in, Capital at a Crossroads: Redirecting Capital to Accelerate Racial Equity. The paper has been distributed to 4,500 contacts through the Institute’s newsletter and shared with over 17,000 followers across social media platforms. The research paper is being coupled with a webinar series Redirecting Capital to Accelerate Racial Equity. In 2021, the REEFS team moderated two conversations, one focused on the cash allocation and the other on venture capital. A third webinar on fixed income allocation was held in February 2022. Additional webinars on other asset classes are being planned over the next few months.

REEFS is proud to announce that they have received a second grant from NCF that will support efforts to keep racial equity at the forefront of finance by:

  1. Developing a public campaign to encourage investors to allocate 10% of assets to racial equity investing to benefit communities most impacted by historical and institutional racism;
  2. Advancing more narratives around this work through blogs and articles, sharing the experiences of investors as they strive to achieve racial equity outcomes and sharing observations developed through field and research work;
  3. Creating a public database of investable racial equity investing products and strategies, leveraging the Institute’s RAISER platform and REEFS racial equity database;
  4. Expanding financial health education focused on making BIPOC farmers more financially resilient and investment-ready; and
  5. Piloting the BIPOC Leaders Advancing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy (BLAISE) Program to counter the lack of diversity in sustainable and impact investing arenas (and finance more broadly). REEFS’ goal is to open employment opportunities for students of color by offering a weeklong sustainable finance curriculum to students of color, coupled with 6-to-8 week summer internship opportunities. Subject to available funds, REEFS anticipates on-boarding 2 to 3 interns for the program pilot.