Launching Innovate for Impact

By Terry Simonette, President & CEO

Today we are launching Innovate for Impact, Capital Impact Partners’ new blog.  Our newest communications venture comes at a pivotal time for the organization – with my upcoming retirement, the launch of our 2020 strategy, and transition to Ellis Carr as Capital Impact’s new president and CEO, 2016 is going to be an exciting year!

We are kicking off a period of growth and innovation – building on the work we are already doing, and looking at what’s next for Capital Impact. We look forward to using this forum to bring you with us on this journey.

Doctor examining patientFrom improvements in a neighborhood grocery store to the expansion of a community health center to inclusive growth in cities like Detroit, the work to finance projects that deliver a social impact in low-to-moderate-income communities has many layers.  Through this platform, we will share our experience and knowledge about how Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) like Capital Impact operate so that we can help further the growth of the sector.  We will also share success stories that will inspire borrowers, partners, investors, policy makers – and even our own staff – to continue their good work.

It is our goal to have Innovate for Impact truly live up to its name and serve as an ongoing source of practical information and innovative ideas that empower you to amplify your impact for those most in need.

We also want this blog to be a collaborative effort, and we’re looking for your input. Please share your ideas and feedback with us. And if you have a topic you would like to see us cover, we welcome you to write about it. You can contact us for details.

Time for Retirement

Head shots of Terry Simonette and Ellis CarrAs I kick off this blog and an exciting new chapter for Capital Impact, you may be asking, why am I choosing now to announce my retirement? The simple fact is, after nearly three decades of leading the organization, Capital Impact is in a good place. We have made $2 billion in loans since our founding, with $1 billion of that in the last five years.

We have incubated, grown, and spun off several successful social enterprises, starting with the Village to Village Network in 2014 and the Cornerstone Partnership (now part of the Grounded Solutions Network) and Green House Project in 2015.

We are well on our way to having re-built and strengthened the operating infrastructure of the organization after our separation from National Cooperative Bank. We ended our long and successful partnership as a bank subsidiary by earning our own nonprofit designation in 2014.  We have ensured continuing best practice results for our customers, investors, and funders. We have the strongest group of employees and greatest capacity that we’ve ever been able to achieve — across the organization, from lending to finance to strategy — with leadership manifested from the top of the organization to the very bottom.

Now, the time is right for me to spend more time with my family and friends, and consider other ways that I can continue to make my personal contribution to  the social justice agenda to which so many of us have committed our lives. Much remains to be done, and there continues to be major opportunities to gain traction in this country as a result of the seminal work many of you do.  We will continue to hammer away at the intractable problems which have left so many of our stakeholders without hope and opportunity. I look forward to joining in this next chapter of innovation and social change.  I hope to continue to share my thoughts on my own new adventure in future posts.

Our 2020 Strategy

In the coming months, I look forward to a steady and successful transition of my responsibilities to Ellis. Under his leadership, our entire team is ready to begin working on our 2020 strategy. I’m incredibly excited about what the future holds.  Let me offer you a just a small peek at our focus:

  • Photo of two boys reading from the same book

    We seek to create opportunity and equity: We want to build access to quality services and create economic opportunity so that all people have paths out of poverty.

  • We seek to address systemic poverty: We aspire to influence at scale – governments and systems – reaching beyond the individual to effect systemic change that impacts all who live in poverty.

  • We seek to build healthy communities: We seek to build connections between health and education, understanding that healthy students are better positioned for academic and economic success. We seek to build communities that foster connectedness and social support, because people living in strong communities are more likely to make those communities thrive.

  • We seek inclusive growth: We aspire to build mixed-income communities and promote economic mobility so that all Americans have a chance to achieve their American dream.

No doubt, this is an ambitious agenda.  But the time is now.

While we, along with our fellow CDFIs have accomplished so much, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. We need to cultivate and support forward-thinking developers. We need to build engagement among our partners and peers. We need to illustrate to foundations and other investors how important their support is to the work we do. They, and all of us, have a chance to achieve our goals.

Please stay tuned to this space as other members of our management team – Ellis Carr, Scott Sporte, and Carolyn Bauer – and staff working in each of our sectors, lay out the roadmap for how we intend to achieve these goals, create more impact, and continue working to help people and communities across this country have the tools, access, and opportunities they need break the barriers to success.

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