PRESS INFORMATION                                     

 

STUDY: LOANS TO LOW-INCOME INDIVIDUALS, GROUPS
PERFORM AS WELL AS “TRADITIONAL” BANK LOANS


Listen to the October 9th news briefing on the safety of CDFIs (You will need the Real Player to listen to this. You can download the free version of their player here)

Read the press release (or as a pdf)

Read the report (pdf)

Go to National Community Capital Association's Web site for further statistics on CDFI's www.communitycapital.org


Listen to the June 5th news briefing on childcare and community investing. (You will need the Real Player to listen to this. You can download the free version of their player here)

"Study: Americans Banking on More Affordable Childcare as 'Community Investing' Resources Nearly Tripple" June 5, 2002

"Community Investing in Action: childcare" - a white paper from the June 5, 2002 news event. (you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this report. It can be downloaded for free right here)

MMA Praxis Offers New Option for Religious Investors: Way to Directly Aid Communities in Need," January 24, 2002.


CONTACT: Stephanie Kendall or Joy Mileham, 703/276-3254, or [email protected]

MMA PRAXIS OFFERS NEW OPTION FOR RELIGIOUS INVESTORS: WAY TO DIRECTLY AID COMMUNITIES IN NEED

MMA Praxis is 1st Church-Owned Mutual Fund Family to Achieve "1 Percent" Mark; Recognition Part of Social Investment Forum Campaign to Boost Community Investing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. and GOSHEN, IN.//January 24, 2002//MMA Praxis Mutual Funds and the Social Investment Forum announced today that MMA Praxis is the first church-affiliated mutual fund family in the United States to earn recognition from the Forum for placing 1 percent of its assets in community investments (CI).

The expansion of community investing options into faith-based mutual funds gives religious investors important new choices. Traditionally, mutual funds with a religious focus have concentrated on ethical screening of their investments, as opposed to the more direct leveraging of their assets in communities in need.

"Community development investing within MMA Praxis gives people a unique opportunity to help others through their investments in addition to making charitable donations," says Howard L. Brenneman, MMA president and chair of MMA Praxis. "MMA Praxis is delighted to have reached the 1 percent level. Our shareholders can now be involved in helping these communities in the U.S. and around the globe meet their own goals, including affordable housing, a more stable local economy of small businesses, a healthier environment, or neighborhood revitalization."

Social Investment Forum Vice Chair Alisa Gravitz said: "The Social Investment Forum and Co-op America applaud MMA for its commitment to the goal of devoting 1 percent of its assets to community investing. The Forum and Co-op America look forward to making additional announcements such as these on a regular basis, as more and more of our members reach this important goal. If you think that 1 percent doesn't sound like much of a target, consider this fact: If all socially screened portfolios reached the goal of having 1 percent of their assets in CI the result would be a tripling of current community investing dollars."

WHY COMMUNITY INVESTING FOR THE FAITHFUL?

For more than two decades, an institutional version of CI has existed among religious groups with assets, such as pension funds for Catholic nuns and priests. But as community investing moves into mutual funds, it allows individual shareholders to play a direct role in these community-changing activities. This is particularly important to people of faith who regularly - and as a matter of principle -- open up their pocketbooks for charitable causes.

Brenneman continued: "Now that's all changing with community investing. Community development investing offers average Christian investors, as stewards with the privilege of having assets, to also follow Christ's call to care for the poor."

Only one other religiously oriented mutual fund has achieved the Social Investment Forum's "1 percent" mark. However, the Aquinas Funds are not owned by the Catholic Church. By contrast, MMA Praxis Mutual Funds are part of Mennonite Mutual Aid, which is owned by the Mennonite Church USA.

ABOUT THE MMA INVESTMENTS

The total so far of $6 million in MMA Community Development Investment assets are going to several worthy organizations, including:

  • Illinois Facilities Fund. IFF is a state-wide, nonprofit corporation providing real estate loans, facilities planning and facilities development to human service and community development nonprofits in Illinois. Since its inception, the IFF has made more than 200 loans totaling $39 million to more than 100 Illinois nonprofits to finance their childcare centers, health clinics, homeless shelters, and other community facilities.

  • Women's World Banking. WWB-Cali, of Cali, Colombia, is a microfinance institution (MFI) founded in 1982 to provide low-income microentrepreneurs in the Valle del Cauca state of Colombia access to credit on a permanent basis. WWB currently works with 37,000 borrowers throughout Colombia. Many of those borrowers are repeat customers (60 percent), a testament to the success of the program. WWB-Cali is a founding member of the worldwide Women's World Banking network.

  • Shorebank Enterprise Pacific. The Shorebank Enterprise Pacific's mission is to develop and advance a long-term regional environmental development strategy for the West coastal temperate rainforests of North America. Shorebank Enterprise Pacific provides nonbank credit, business support and marketing assistance to emerging and small businesses that are seeking to participate in the conservation economy. Since 1995, Shorebank Enterprise Pacific has delivered 75 loans for a total of more than $7.2 million.

  • Mercy Loan Fund. Denver-based MLF lends to nonprofit developers of affordable housing. The loan fund is a division of Mercy Housing, Inc., a nonprofit organization sponsored by congregations of Catholic women to create and strengthen healthy communities through the provision of quality, affordable, service-enriched housing for individuals and families who are economically poor. Since its inception in 1984, MLF has helped finance over 8,000 units, providing homes to over 26,000 residents whose average annual income is less than $18,000 per year.

For more information about community investing at MMA or its other CI projects, go to www.mma-online.org.

MMA's goal is to place investments with carefully chosen community development organizations that have met rigorous standards for financial stability and social impact. Most of these investments are made at full- or near-market rates. In some instances, organizations receive below-market rates. However, the organizations are required to clearly demonstrate the additional margin of value that these rates provide.

MMA Equity Investment Manager Chad Horning compares CI's financial returns to cash investments, while not having the same liquidity. Cash investments already often represent 2 to 5 percent of diversified mutual funds.

ABOUT MMA AND MMA PRAXIS

As a stewardship solutions organization, Mennonite Mutual Aid helps Anabaptists and others practice biblical stewardship through its expertise in insurance, financial services, charitable-giving programs and educational resources. For more information, visit www.mma-online.org.

MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, a division of MMA, exists to help individuals meet their financial goals in a way that supports their beliefs. MMA Praxis practices stewardship investing, a philosophy that balances a need for productive use of financial resources with a deep-seated concern for others. For more information, visit www.mmapraxis.com.

ABOUT THE 1 PERCENT CAMPAIGN

In 2001, the Social Investment Forum launched a campaign to help move more than $10 billion in assets in socially responsible investments into communities in need over the next five years. The Forum is honoring members with at least 1 percent of their managed assets in community investing, and highlights them as role models for all investors. Community investing is financing that generates resources and opportunities - including capital for small businesses, job creation, affordable housing, childcare and other needed community services - for economically disadvantaged people in U.S. and overseas communities that are underserved by traditional financial institutions.

The 1 percent campaign to promote CI is a joint partnership of the Social Investment Forum and Co-op America. The Social Investment Forum is a national nonprofit trade association dedicated to promoting the concept, practice and growth of socially responsible investing. Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982 that provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to address today's social and environmental problems. The campaign's Web site is www.communityinvest.org.

CONTACT: Stephanie Kendall or Joy Mileham, 703/276-3254, or [email protected]

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Previous press releases...

Contact:
Todd Larsen
(202) 872-5310

NEW FOCUS IN SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING:
"COMMUNITY INVESTING" UP 41 PERCENT IN TWO YEARS

With New Impetus in the Wake of September 11th, SRI Moves into Banking/Finance;
12 Groups Honored for Creating Housing, childcare, New Jobs for Disadvantaged.

Read the release and listen to the press conference here

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.///December 5, 2001///More and more Americans are finding new ways -- including where they keep their banking and checking accounts -- to be “hands on” as socially responsible investors. A new study from the Social Investment Forum shows that the phenomenon known as "community investing" is now the fastest-growing category of socially responsible investing in the United States. The Forum reported that individual and institutional assets in flowing into community investing organizations grew by a hefty 41 percent between 1999 and 2001, increasing from $5.4 billion to $7.6 billion.

Today, the Community Investing Campaign, a project of the Social Investment Forum and Co-op
America, singled out 12 organizations that "best exemplify the building of economic
opportunity and hope for individuals through community investing."
Community investing is
financing that generates resources and opportunities for economically disadvantaged people in
U.S. and overseas communities that are under served by traditional financial institutions.

Community investors make it possible for local organizations in urban and rural areas to create affordable housing, jobs, provide financial services to low-income individuals, supply capital for small businesses, and make possible such vital community services as childcare. Community Investing is carried out today by hundreds of community development banks, credit unions, loan funds and venture capital organizations across the U.S.

Why is community investing now enjoying so much popularity among more and more socially concerned investors? For socially aware individuals and institutions, the powerful attraction of community investing is the opportunity it represents to connect in a direct way with the lives of people in order to make a concrete difference in them.

Consider the work of Boston Community Capital, which is one of the 12 organizations honored today by the Community Investing Campaign. Today, in the Four Corners section of Boston's economically distressed Dorchester neighborhood, brothers Glynn and Sheldon Lloyd are gearing up City Fresh Foods, their ethnic food catering business, to deliver 2000 daily meals. Not far away in the Roxbury neighborhood, plans are underway for Nuestra Comunidad, a local community development corporation that will bring the long-vacant Dartmouth Hotel back to life as affordable housing and renovated commercial space for long-time merchants in the heart of Dudley Square, the center of Boston's African American community. Both City Fresh Foods, a profitable minority-owned business with 35 inner city employees, and the Dartmouth Hotel, with 60 new units of housing for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families, are realities thanks to community investments from socially responsible investors.

Self-Help Credit Union Vice President Deborah Momsen-Hudson said: "We are honoring these 12 groups today because they are outstanding examples of how community investing dollars can transform the lives of hundreds and even thousands of people in the U.S. and around the globe. In the wake of the events of September 11 th , Americans who want to make a change in the lives of others need to understand that community investing is a powerful and personal way to get the job done. The organizations singled out for praised today are among hundreds in the U.S. that turn community investing dollars into better lives for people who most need the help."

The 12 community investing organizations singled out today by the Community Investing Campaign are as follows: ACCION International (Boston, MA); Boston Community Capital (Boston, MA); Calvert Foundation (Bethesda, MD); Cascadia Revolving Fund (Seattle, WA); Community Bank of the Bay (Oakland, CA); Leviticus 25:23 Alternative Fund, Inc. (Yonkers, NY); Manna, Inc. (Washington, DC); Mercy Loan Fund (Denver, CO); Self-Help Credit Union (Durham, NC); Shared Interest (New York, NY); ShoreBank (Chicago, IL); and Southern Development Bancorporation (Arkadelphia, AR).

(See available fact sheet containing information on each of the 12 organizations.)

STUDY: THE RISE OF COMMUNITY INVESTING

According to the new report from the Social Investment Forum, assets held and invested locally by community development financial institutions (CDFIs) based in the United States totaled $7.6 billion in 2001, up from $5.4 billion in 1999. The key components behind this 41 percent increase include:

  • Assets in Community Development Credit Unions tripled from $601 million in 1999 to $1.8 billion in 2001.

  • The assets in Community Development Venture Capital Funds doubled from $150 million in 1999 to $300 million in 2001.

  • Total financing by Community Development Loan Funds rose from $1.3 billion in 1999 to $2.1 billion in 2001. Cumulative financing by Community Development Loan Funds in 1990 totaled just $88 million.

  • Shorebank and Self-Help, both of which are community investing members of the Social Investment Forum, passed the $1 billion mark in cumulative financing.

According to the Social Investment Forum, the 41 percent growth rate for community investing now exceeds that of socially responsible mutual funds, all types of screened portfolios and socially concerned shareholder advocacy. The Forum’s report indicated that the rate of growth during 1999-2001 for all socially screened assets (including community investing) was 36 percent. All categories of socially responsible investing (including unscreened assets used in shareholder advocacy) rose 8 percent from 1999-2001, the Forum concluded.

ShoreBank Corporation Vice Chairman Bob Nash said: "This is all about socially responsible investing for people who want to be able to see the changes they have helped to make in the world. Community-based financial institutions work with low-income individuals earning the minimum wage in North Carolina to purchase homes, assist impoverished battered women in Texas in opening a community-based shelter, and provide displaced timber workers in the Pacific Northwest with loans to start successful and environment-friendly businesses. In addition to supplying urgently needed capital in under-served neighborhoods, community investment groups make available key services, such as education, mentoring and technical support."

HOW TO BECOME A COMMUNITY INVESTOR

Any individual or institution can become a community investor. Community investing dollars often come in the form of savings accounts, checking accounts, mutual funds and even direct "high impact" investments.

Many community investors use community development banks and credit unions for their basic banking needs. These institutions are committed to strengthening low-income communities across the country. Everything from checking and savings accounts, to CD's and IRAs, to loans, can be
provided through a community bank or credit union. If there is no such organization in your community, you can use ATMs, the mail and online banking options.

Other individuals become community investors by focusing on mutual funds with a community-investing component. Still another approach is to invest directly in what are often called "high impact" investments that go directly into community investment programs.

Community Investing Campaign Coordinator Fran Teplitz said: “Americans are looking for ways they can be a part of the solution since the tragedies of September 11. Community investing provides a great way that people can be part of the solution -- investing in communities here and abroad. Communities that are secure make a world that is safe. And the great news about community investing is that everyone can do it. If you have a checking or savings account, you can be a community investor by opening your checking and savings accounts in a community development bank or credit union.”

For a comprehensive list of community investing alternatives, go to www.communityinvest.org.

ABOUT THE COMMUNITY INVESTING CAMPAIGN

The Community Investing Campaign is a joint partnership of the Social Investment Forum and Co-op
America. The Social Investment Forum is a national non-profit trade association dedicated to
promoting the concept, practice and growth of socially responsible investing. Co-op America is a
national nonprofit organization founded in 1982 that provides the economic strategies, organizing
power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to address today's social and
environmental problems. The campaign's Web site is www.communityinvest.org.

CONTACT: Joy Mileham, 703/276-3258 or [email protected], and Stephanie Kendall, 703/276-3254 or [email protected].

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KEEP YOUR HOME,   SAVINGS SAFE FROM PREDATORS!

Renowned Consumer Expert Outlines “Predatory Lending” Dangers, 

How “Community Investing” Alternative Makes a Real Difference

The United States experienced unprecedented prosperity in recent years, but many communities were left behind in the process.These communities – including many women, older Americans, and people of color – are in dire need of small business development, affordable housing, job development, childcare, and other vital social services.

Unfortunately, predatory lenders are robbing America’s distressed communities of what little wealth they have, leaving families devastated. These predators use abusive marketing practices to push unscrupulous loans with high fees, exorbitant costs, and other unscrupulous lending practices on unsuspecting consumers.The result: Homes of targeted groups - often the elderly, women and people of color in low-income communities – are stripped of equity.

Recognized consumer expert Alisa Gravitz is executive director of the nonprofit Co-op America and vice chair of the nonprofit Social Investment Forum. She also is a veteran of numerous radio and TV interviews and can speak about the new, free consumer pocket guide “Building Communities,” a joint publication of Co-op America and the Forum.  

“Building Communities” outlines the dangers of predatory lending and how Americans can use community investing to rebuild the same neighborhoods targeted by predatory lenders.Some of the topics covered in the pocket guide include:

·         Spotting and avoiding the predatory lenders who can hurt you, your family and your community.

·         Signs that tell if you are already in the grips of a predatory lender.

·         Explaining “community investing” alternatives that are available to everyone. 

Alisa Gravitz also co-authored Co-op America’s popular guide to social investing, which has helped more than 400,000 people invest their money according to their values and she writes regular columns and articles on sustainable living. She earned her MBA at Harvard University and her BA in Economics and Environmental Sciences at Brandeis University.

AVAILABILITY:  Via telephone nationwide during April-May 2001 by arrangement.

CONTACT:  Paul Lopez (703) 276-1116, ext. 256.

For information about community investing, predatory lending, or the 1% in Communities Campaign contact Todd Larsen, managing director of Co-op America at 202-872-5310, or [email protected].

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A project of Co-op America and the Social Investment Forum.