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Shifting Investing Practices into Community Control

Written by Build Healthy Places Staff on August 16, 2023

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Build Healthy Places Network’s Video Snapshots offer quick deep dives with experts from the community development, health, and finance sectors. Our current series uplifts practices that support community engagement processes and projects that are community-led and owned. Learn from practitioners from across sectors, who together are working to make neighborhoods healthier through centering the voices of residents.

A Participatory Investing Initiative: efforts to cultivate community-led investing practices in the field

This video snapshot focuses on efforts to seed participatory, community-led investing practices in the field. The conversation highlights the work of Tap Bui, Co-Executive Director of Song CDC in New Orleans, LA, and their efforts to advance community-led work in New Orleans East. Song CDC is part of the Build Healthy Places Network (BHPN) Community Innovations for Racial Equity (CIRE) initiative. The video also highlights the work of Sonia Sarkar, who serves on the Leadership Team of Shift Health Accelerator (Shift). Sonia co-led the Common Future Action Lab: Participatory Investing initiative, a partnership with the World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund—to propel learning and experimentation of philanthropic participatory investing strategies. The cohort brought together 16 leaders from 8 participating institutions, each of whom pursued institutional investing projects and launched a collaborative fund of $175,000 to test participatory investing through community governance of a shared pool of resources. 

BHPN, along with Common Future and Shift, sourced advisors and investments for the project, specifically aimed at supporting the cohort in deepening thinking and strategy related to trust-based investing, community ownership, and community governance. The work drew from BHPN’s CIRE cohort to bring community leaders together spanning experts in community health and healing, rural community development, and community-owned economic development efforts, to help shape a learning and action space and to source projects for investment. Leaders represented Cihuapactli Collective, Virginia Community Voice, Blue Note Junction, Del Paso Heights Growers’ Alliance, Song CDC, and others. 

The Action Lab: Participatory Investing culminated in Common Future launching a Participatory Investing Toolkit, a playbook for operationalizing power-shifting within philanthropic investment. The toolkit is action-oriented and provides tangible steps institutions can take to more equitably and more effectively shift power and incorporate community voice into decisions around investment capital. Moving forward, this work continues to unfold. Our partners at Shift Health Accelerator are building on the toolkit to test participatory grantmaking and investing by health systems. This work includes opportunities for community leaders to envision creative approaches to moving capital, governance, and institutional assets into more equitable and community-owned solutions. 

Watch to learn more

The video snapshot discussion underscores opportunities for funders to approach grantmaking and investing through new lenses, opening up opportunities for community ownership, wealth building, and trust-based processes that stand to create more equitable and community-driven impact.