Upstart Co-Lab Finds $1 Billion For Impact Investments

Upstart Co-Lab, New York City has launched a new impact investment coalition with the potential of providing more than $1 billion. Under its direction, the entities that make up the coalition’s Member Community will put resources toward sustainable food, ethical fashion, social impact media, other creative industries and creative places.

The Member Community enables Upstart Co-Lab to demonstrate how investing directly in businesses and real estate projects in the creative economy can drive deep social and environmental impact.

Upstart Co-Lab is a project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors that urges impact investment in the environment, low income communities, workers, women and other recipients, It provides educational resources, sourcing and screening of investment opportunities, analysis of the financial performance and social impact of investments and identification and tracking of trends in the creative economy.

The Member Community is made up of cultural institutions and individuals, including:

  • The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, a private foundation in Denver that distributes more than $3 million annually to advance the arts and inspire creative leadership;
  • BRIC, a New York City-based arts and media institution that nurtures and showcases creators, students and media makers;
  • Creative Capital, New York City, which provides $50,000 in funding coupled with $50,000 worth of mentorship, community building and career development services to entities receiving its annual Creative Capital Award;
  • The Jessie Ball duPont Fund, a Jacksonville, Fla., private foundation that focuses on increasing equitable access to opportunities and resources for members of society who have historically been excluded;
  • Souls Grown Deep, Atlanta, which fosters economic empowerment, racial and social justice, and educational advancement for African American artists in select regions across the Southeast;
  • Martha J. Fleischman, a trustee and chairman emerita of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, President of Kennedy Galleries, and a private dealer in American art of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries;
  • Neil Hamamoto, an artist who owns and operates worthless studios, a nonprofit art studio in New York that supports new artists by providing materials, tools, space and technical assistance; and,
  • Lorrie Meyercord, an investor who allocates 100 percent of her capital with an impact investment lens. Her areas of interest with her investments are the arts, empowering girls, spirituality, health and wellness and reversing global warming.

The coalition also includes two anonymous members. Together, they represent $1 billion in potential impact investing, according to Upstart Co-Lab. The coalition has openings for two more members.

“Our members push us by asking the practical questions all investors ask, anchored in a deep understanding of the power art, design, culture, heritage and creativity have to drive positive environmental and social change,” Laura Callanan, founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, told The NonProfit Times.

Additional philanthropic support for the Member Community is provided by the Compton Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the David Rockefeller Fund.

“Art and culture have been largely overlooked by impact investors before now,” said Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation, via a statement. “The leadership of the Upstart Co-Lab Member Community to close this gap comes at a moment when the creative economy has a critical role to play in an equitable COVID-19 economic recovery and needs values-aligned capital more than ever.”