Staff Blog

This is a space where Foundation staff share their thoughts and musings on giving and community:

Mission Investing—A Community Conversation

Posted by: Chelsea Bardot Lewis on 6/28/2019

Last week, as part of our Community Conversations Series, we sat down with fundholders to listen to a panel of Vermonters and explore the role of mission investing. We talked about how mission investing can transform entrenched inequities, and we took a look at the role of entrepreneurship in closing the opportunity gap.

The conversation covered a lot of ground, so we want to share in this post some of the highlights of what we learned.

At the Community Foundation, mission investing has become a significant tool to narrow the opportunity gap in the sectors and regions of Vermont where the divide is felt most acutely. That’s why we recently re-focused our long-standing Vermont Investment Pool on two primary strategies: revitalizing Vermont downtowns and encouraging mission-driven entrepreneurship across the state.

I was honored to moderate a panel that featured Sascha Mayer from Mamava, Cairn Cross from FreshTracks Capital, Laury Saligman from Vernal Ventures, and Deb Dabrowski from the Community Foundation. Many thanks to Sascha and the amazing Mamava team for providing the inspiring space for all of us to learn together.

Throughout the discussion, we heard lots of creative and proactive ideas about how donors can use mission investing to reduce the opportunity gap, and about what we need to measure so we know we’re succeeding in our work. Two concepts in particular struck me.

Cairn Cross emphasized why mission investing matters: It’s more satisfying to work for an organization that creates wealth in rural areas rather than extracting it, and it’s more rewarding (and motivating) to work for a company whose mission is to change the world for the better. Getting capital into the hands of entrepreneurs and local partners not only creates quality jobs, it helps to instill a sense of local pride while nurturing broader economic and social opportunities that can revitalize communities.

And after showcasing Mamava’s lactation pods, Sascha Mayer said that one of the company’s goals is to set the consumer expectation that all women can and should expect a private, clean space to nurse or to pump breastmilk. Even if Mamava were someday to fail, Sascha noted that they’ve already succeeded because they’ve set that benchmark for all women.

Do you want to be a part of upcoming discussions about mission investing in Vermont? If so, let us know.

We’re also scheduling more events in our Community Conversations Series:

  • SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER:
    The Stigma, the Ripple, and How Vermont is Leading the Way
    October 2019
    Date and location TBD
  • FAITH, SPIRITUALITY, AND PHILANTHROPY:
    Powerful Motivators to Giving
    November 2019
    Date and location TBD
  • CREDENTIALS OF VALUE:
    Matching What Employees AND Employers Need
    January 2020
    Date and location TBD

Contact info@vermontcf.org for more information.

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