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Impact Investing

Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation Selects Threshold Group as Investment Advisor

NEW YORK, NY— (May 31, 2017) --The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, a pioneer in the field of investing for social justice, announces the selection of Threshold Group as its investment advisor as the result of its recent open call for letters of interest (LOI). Threshold Group will work with Noyes tod emonstrate how capital can drive positive social and environmental change by advancing the Foundation’s impact investing and mission-aligned investing strategies for its $55 million endowment. Through its role as an investor, Noyes aims to drive systemic impact in the areas of social justice, equality, human rights, health, and diversity.

“We were pleased to see 35 responses that presented Noyes with several partnerships, business models and investment strategies that could help us maximize our endowment’s impact to bring about a more just, equitable and sustainable world while providing attractive financial returns,” said Steven Godeke, Board Chair of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. “The submissions represented a range of approaches from ESG integration to deep impact investment advisory. The results of this search confirmed our belief that, over the past 25 years since the Noyes began this journey, the partners and resources available to mission-aligned investors have increased dramatically.”

In response to the evolution of sustainable, responsible and impact investment, the Noyes Foundation is revisiting its endowment’s investment strategy to move beyond mission alignment. With the announcement of the engagement with Threshold Group, Noyes seeks opportunities to expand its social justice impacts by harnessing the power of public and private markets.

“We look forward to partnering with Threshold Group to increase the social justice impact of Noyes' endowment with disciplined, objective portfolio management,” said Lenora Suki, Chair of the Finance Committee. “We are enthusiastic to work with Threshold's team for their experience, knowledge and values alignment. Noyes looks forward to advancing our, and the industry’s, understanding of the intersection of social justice and investing, as well as working with Threshold's impact investment research and impact measurement tools and reporting.”

Noyes will share key takeaways from its search process in a forthcoming white paper. The white paper aims to contribute to industry dialogue on impact investment advisor searches, including lessons learned on the current state of the investment advisor community’s integration of social and environmental impact into the investment process across asset classes and strategies.

Threshold Group, headquartered in Seattle, is a Registered Investment Advisor with approximately $3.2 billion of assets under management (AUM) with roughly $1.2 billion allocated to impact investments.

About Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation was established in 1947 by Charles F. Noyes as a memorial to his wife, Jessie Smith Noyes. The Foundation's mission is to support grassroots organizations and movements in the United States working to change environmental, social, economic and political conditions to bring about a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

It envisions a socially just and environmentally sustainable society in which all people are able to gain the knowledge and build the power they need to exercise their rights and participate fully in the economic, social and political decisions that affect their lives and communities.

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Media Contact:
Sonal Mahida, Indelable
646-236-4457
sonal@indelable.com

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For Immediate Release
October 5, 2016

Contact: Karlos Gauna Schmieder, consultkarlos@mediajustice.org

Jessie Smith Noyes Announces Open Call for Investment Advisors to Lead Next Evolution of Social Justice Investing.  

New York, NY – Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (Noyes), a pioneer in the field of sustainable, responsible and impact investing for social justice today announced an open call for letters of interest (LOI) from investment advisors to advance its mission-aligned investing strategy.

“Noyes is soliciting information and ideas from the investment field during a sea change in the the pace of innovation and growth in sustainable, responsible and impact investing,” said Steven Godeke, Noyes Board Member. “We want to push our potential advisors to think broadly about social impacts like equality, diversity, health and human rights as part of our social justice movement building strategy.”

LOIs are due by November 1st. Noyes will review the LOI and then select up to five firms to receive a more detailed request for proposal, and publish a broad analysis and share learnings with philanthropic and investment institutions.

Noyes’ commitment to aligning its mission and investments was triggered in the late 1990s by a board discussion about Intel and the environmental impact the company was having on the Albuquerque, New Mexico water supply and environment. The concern over the negative impact Intel’s plant would have on the water supply and environment of New Mexico was compounded when a board member pointed out that the foundation owned stock in Intel and had approved those investments earlier in the day. It was an eye-opening moment for Noyes, and one that cemented its socially responsible and mission-related investing policies and led to its decision to sell investments that did not align with the Foundation's mission.

Twenty years later, 100% of Noyes’ assets align with its mission, which is dedicated to building a socially and environmentally just society.

“It makes no sense to use five percent of your assets to try to promote something, while the other 95 percent might be doing something totally contrary,” says Wendy Holding, Noyes Board Chair. “We try to use 100 percent of our assets to promote our values.”

Along the way, Noyes has supported the work of its grantees through shareholder engagement, and worked to build the industry through collaborations such as Confluence Philanthropy and the Divest/Invest campaign.  

“As the impact investment field accelerates, Noyes is committed to deepening the impact of its investments to further its social justice movement building,” says Genaro Lopez Rendon, a Chicano community organizer from Texas recently hired as the Foundation’s president. “By looking at themes that have not traditionally viewed as ‘investable,’ we hope to spur much needed funding for themes such as equality, diversity, health and human rights.”

To drive this exploration, the foundation is using the selection of an investment advisor as a means to surface expertise and increase awareness. 

“We are making ourselves a test case and want to continue to share our learnings in a transparent manner with the field,” says Lopez Rendon.

LOI Continues Below.

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 Investment Advisor

Open Call for Letters of Interest

October 5, 2016

 

The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (“Noyes”) will be engaging an investment advisor to partner with our finance committee and board of trustees to advise on the management of the Foundation’s financial assets. Noyes is a private family foundation founded in 1947 and located in New York City with an endowment of approximately $50 million and an annual grantmaking and operating budget of $3 million. Noyes currently supports work in the following focus areas: environmental justice, reproductive rights, sustainable agriculture and food systems, sustainable New York City, and building power across movements. 

Our Vision

Noyes envisions a socially just and environmentally sustainable society in which all people are able to gain the knowledge and build the power they need to exercise their rights and participate fully in the economic, social and political decisions that affect their lives and communities.

Our Values

Noyes is a diverse and inclusive organization working towards a more equitable society. We consistently challenge structural racism, gender inequality, and discrimination based on ethnicity, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, economic status, physical ability, gender and immigration status, and seek to open channels of opportunities for these communities. We believe that people, not corporations, have inalienable rights. The foundation builds the power of people — those most impacted and those who have been marginalized — to be actively involved in advancing solutions to the problems they face. We believe in an environmentally just earth in which all species have the right to co-exist.

Our Theory of Change

We understand that social change occurs over a period of time through a combination of strategies, forces and events both small and large, planned and unplanned. We recognize the special role of diverse, inclusive and democratically controlled grassroots movements—particularly when such movements are driven by the very people impacted by inequity. They are the best advocates to build public support and community understanding as well as drive lasting change. We believe that grassroots movements composed in such a way are among the strongest forces in our society for holding public policy makers and private corporations accountable.

Noyes’ vision, values and theory of change drive both our programmatic and investment strategies. Noyes has been a pioneer in the sustainable, responsible and impact investing field for over 30 years. We have practiced shareholder activism to assist our grantees, supported the development of the field through investor collaborations and seeded innovative environmental and social investment funds. The Foundation has new leadership and is focused on remaining close to our mission of grassroots movement building, and Noyes’ investment resources are a critical part of this heritage. 

Our full investment guidelines are available at:

http://www.noyes.org/impact-investing/investment-policy

The Investment Advisor Selection Process

In order to gather information about the broadening universe of investment advisors active in the sustainable, responsible and impact investing field, we are holding an open call to the investment community to provide letters of interest as the first stage of our advisor search. Given the accelerating pace of innovation and growth in sustainable, responsible and impact investing, we are soliciting information and ideas from the field to better inform our process, and would welcome your participation.

Please include the following elements in your letter of interest:

Organizational Capacity (2-3 Pages):

  • Summary of your organization's capabilities and alignment with Noyes’ values and goals as a social justice investor and grant maker.
  • Team members with experience and commitment to sustainable, responsible and impact investing.
  • Examples of products that peer clients have invested in across asset classes (equities, fixed income, private equity, real assets, alternatives) and approaches (values/norms-based, best practices, thematic/sustainability solutions, impact).
  • Brief description of your due diligence of managers for alignment with Noyes' values and investment objectives.
  • Analytical capabilities with respect to integrating Noyes' values and investment objectives into strategic and tactical asset allocation. 

 

In addition, we would like to have your thoughts on the following questions for the field (2-3 pages) 

  • What does “social justice investing” look like now and in the future?
  • Given our resources, how can we more tightly translate our mission (social justice movement building, environmental justice, reproductive health and rights, food equity and sustainable agriculture) into investable opportunities?
  • What are the most effective tools (impact investing, ESG stock selection, shareholder engagement and activism, community investing, impact investing, program-related investments) that we might deploy?
  • What does corporate accountability mean in this era of globalization of capital and supply chains? How does this translate into portfolio selection?
  • How can our mission aligned investment portfolio drive the creation of systemic impact in the areas of social justice, equality, human rights, health and diversity? Are there external initiatives or targets—such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—that might influence our portfolio?
  • How can the practices and culture of our investment advisors and fund managers embody our values and mission of social justice and equality?
  • What investment resources do the grassroots social justice organizations we support need in order to develop sustainable and viable operations?      

 

Please be aware that we will be sharing the results of the broader field questions with philanthropic and investment institutions. Our goal is to describe the current state of the investment advisor community’s ability to integrate social impact into the investment process. We will not share details about the organizational capacity of specific firms. 

Following a review of the LOIs, Noyes will select up to five firms that will receive a more detailed RFP and meet with the Finance Committee later this year. 

We ask you to please email your LOI no later than COB Tuesday November 1st to finance@noyes.org. In the interim, please contact us at finance@noyes.org with any questions. 

We greatly appreciate your interest in working with us and your willingness to share your thoughts and ideas. We look forward to reviewing your letter of interest and continuing this conversation.

Sincerely yours,

Genaro Lopez Rendon           

President

Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

 

Steven Godeke

Chair, Finance Committee

Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation