Living Cities Launches $31 Million Impact Investment Fund (Philanthropy News Digest)

Living Cities, an organization that harnesses the resources and knowledge of its twenty-two member foundations and financial institutions to bring community-development opportunities to urban neighborhoods and residents, has announced the launch of a $31 million Blended Catalyst Fund that will test and support innovative solutions to urban challenges.

Combining grants with other types of capital, including commercial loans, lines of credit, and equity investments, the fund will finance efforts to address income inequality, small business development, homelessness, and other urban issues while improving outcomes for low-income individuals in cities across the U.S. Investors in the fund include the Annie E. CaseyFord,KresgeMacArthurRobert Wood JohnsonSan Francisco, and Surdna foundations; Deutsche Bank; MetLife Inc.; and Prudential Financial.

The fund's current loans or investments include a $500,000 loan to Denver Pay for Success in support of permanent housing and support services for the chronically homeless in that city, and a $2 million equity investment in City Light Capital's Impact Ventures III fund, which supports entrepreneurs focused on education, public safety, and the environment. The fund's future plans include a $1 million loan to the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan's New Economy Initiative Fund; a $3.5 million loan to the Seattle-based Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund in support of affordable housing for low-income residents of the greater Seattle area; and a $500,000 equity investment in the Urban Innovation Fund in support of early-stage social entrepreneurs working to solve critical urban challenges.

"The genesis of the Blended Catalyst Fund came from our learnings about the need for more efficient ways to attract, blend, and deploy capital," said Eileen Neely, director of capital innovation at Living Cities. "We set up the Blended Catalyst Fund to advance our goals beyond the dollars that grants can supply, because repayable capital unlocks significantly more resources available to accelerate, scale, or replicate investment efforts."