Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability

The Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability (REEFS) program is designed to encourage stakeholders in finance to think holistically about integrating racial equity across their investment portfolios, to advance opportunities for greater representation of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) in the field, and to support frameworks and approaches that support wealth-building in these communities. This multi-faceted approach seeks to acknowledge and address the persistent structural race-based discrimination in the US, which underpins the significant gaps in access to career and financial opportunities.

REEFS Research Pillars

Enhancing Investor Decisions

  • Applying Total Portfolio Activation to Racial Equity
  • Applying the Invest-Engage framework to understand investor engagement opportunities

Expanding the BIPOC Pipeline

  • Broadening BIPOC participation in finance
  • Engaging the finance community to remove barriers to entry

Achieving Financial Health

  • Developing financial health programs for BIPOC entrepreneurs, households, and farmers
  • Collaborating with place-based partners to improve financial health in communities of color

History OF REEFS

Since its launch in 2014, Croatan Institute has made tackling structural racism in finance central to our 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 Sharlene Brown (now Director of REEFS) and Henry McKoy, as well as senior fellows like Josh Humphreys, and our late colleague Fern Jones, to begin grappling with these challenges. In 2018, after years of engagement with professionals of color working on equity issues, the Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability (REEFS) program and its Steering Committee were formalized.

At the 2018 Croatan Forum, the first REEFS Roundtable was held, bringing together more than 40 stakeholders to advance opportunities for black and brown communities.

Diverse Leaders in Climate and Agriculture Summit

Croatan Institute’s REEFS Program is hosting its first collaborative effort for thought leaders, practitioners, advocates and values aligned capital partners – the Diverse Leaders in Climate and Agriculture Summit.

Join us as we convene November 17th & 18th to engage in deep conversations at the critical nexus of finance, sustainability and economic development. The Summit will be an opportunity for BIPOC leaders in agriculture and climate justice to engage with values-aligned partners while elevating their voices in spaces that are perceived as lacking inclusivity. The Summit will feature a two-day schedule of panels and breakout sessions from leaders in climate advocacy and regenerative agriculture, and dining opportunities that aim to gather together a multitude of top professionals leading direct change.

The Diverse Leaders in Climate and Agriculture Summit

Register today for a transformative two-day event where we bring together regenerative agriculture, climate advocacy, and mission-aligned capital partners. Help connect BIPOC leaders in the field, while elevating their voices in a space often lacking inclusivity, by co-creating strategies for climate and agricultural justice.

Click Here to Learn More and Register

Highlighted Projects & Resources


Re-Allocate encourages investors and capital allocators to pursue racial equity investing within their investment portfolios. The goal of the campaign is to encourage investment managers and decision- makers to reallocate 15% of AUM over three-years to invest in America’s emerging majority.

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Redirecting Capital to Accelerate Racial Equity Webinar Series

Today, the investment community must be collaborators willing to invest transformative capital in communities of color — both to address historical wrongs and seize future opportunities — that bank on the full potential of all citizens in this nation. This series showcases investable opportunities across asset classes.

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Capital at a Crossroads: Redirecting Capital to Accelerate Racial Equity

Since the events of 2020, our nation has arrived at a crossroads. To create a more equitable future for all Americans, our nation must address our history ridden with racial inequities that have unleveled the playing field.

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Redirecting Capital to Accelerate Racial Equity: Leveraging Cash Allocations

Croatan Institute Senior Fellow Sharlene Brown leads a discussion with community development practitioners on how cash allocations can tackle racial inequities.

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Financial Health Investment Project

This project aims to increase the financial health of Black and other minority farmers and landowners through online financial coaching workshops supplemented by one-to-one coaching. This work will help build strong financial systems that lead to greater resilience and improved access to wealth-building opportunities for these farmers.

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Total Portfolio Activation Tools for Racial Equity Investing

To grow opportunities in black and brown communities, significant long-term investments are necessary.

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Strengthening the BIPOC Pipeline (BLAISE)

We are developing an initiative, the BIPOC Leaders Advancing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy
(BLAISE) program, which will expand  opportunities for students in HBCUs and HSIs with an interest in social impact and finance to gain knowledge, skills, and networks. 

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Investing in Racial Equity 50 Years After the Civil Rights Movement

Panelists explore opportunities and challenges to investing in communities of color to support entrepreneurship, wealth-building, and greater professional inclusion.

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A Conversation on Persistent Poverty, Income Inequality, and Racial Disparities

This discussion will help impact investors, funders, and practitioners better understand the notions of persistent poverty, structural exclusion and explore misconceptions about the face of rural poverty.

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Advisory Board Members

Michael Lear

Capital Group

Vicki Lee Parker

NC Business Council

Keith Beverly

GRID 202 Partners

Eric Darrisaw

Lazarus Advisors LLC

Felicia Davis

HBCU Green Fund

Henry McKoy

NC Central University

Napoleon Wallace

Frontline Solutions

Erika Seth Davies

Racial Equity Asset Lab

Andrea Armeni

Transform Finance

Sharlene Brown

Croatan Institute

Joshua Humphreys

Croatan Institute

Partners & Sponsors

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