George Ashton III talks about LISC’s new Black Economic Development Fund
“We are a channel for listening to communities. Our local offices spend a lot of time talking to the community, understanding what it needs, and translating that into what’s available and what makes sense for either grant deployment or investment.”
“We’ve been working with preferred equity – very patient capital where we do well if the project does well – and, frankly, that’s a big thing that these communities need. It’s often the most challenging because, on a competitive basis, equity is the riskiest investment to make and requires the most faith in what you’re doing. But, if the way that we got into this issue was a long absence of equity and investment in these communities, the way we get out will take some time as well.”
– George Ashton III, Managing Director of Strategic Investments at LISC
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), founded in 1979, is a national community development financial institution or CDFI. Over the past 40+ years, LISC has deployed over $22B into community development projects including affordable housing, early childhood development, education, and much more. Recently, LISC launched the Black Economic Development Fund. Targeting up to $250mm and initially seeded by $25mm investments from both Netflix and Costco, the Black Economic Development Fund will work to close the racial wealth gap through both a direct and indirect investment strategy: directly through investments in black-led businesses and anchor institutions, and indirectly through working with black-led financial institutions.
On this week’s episode, we are joined by George Ashton III, Managing Director of Strategic Investments at LISC and the manager of the new fund. The conversation with George touches upon the growth of CDFIs and their role in economic development, the economic incentive for corporations to help close the racial wealth gap, and how more corporations can put their money where their mouth is with regard to racial equity.
George Ashton III
Managing Director of Strategic Investments
- Learn more about the Black Economic Development Fund
- Netflix, LISC Partner on $25M for Black-owned Banks, Communities
- American Banker Reports on LISC’s Black Economic Development Fund
- Costco Commits $25 Million to LISC’s Black Economic Development Fund
- Square, Inc. Invests $25M in LISC Black Economic Development Fund
About Money + Meaning
Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.