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Grassroots Community Engaged Investment: How investors can help communities build power alongside wealth

Shante Little May 17, 2021
Over the past several decades, the fields of community development, community investment, and impact investment have been evolving and steadily working to address disparities in wealth, jobs, education, and health within BIPOC and working class communities. However, the failures of our economic and financial systems cannot be resolved simply by injecting more capital into communities.

Investment efforts need to respond to, address, and be accountable to the visions, needs, and aspirations of the community itself. They should not happen “to” communities, but “with” them.

Grassroots Community Engaged Investment (GCEI) is a strengthening trend in community development and mission-aligned investment that presents a new way for how to invest so as to shift power dynamics and build an economy that works for communities. It achieves this by placing grassroots stakeholders at the fulcrum of control and agency. This approach provides an opportunity for funders and investors to drive equity through capital by seeding and supporting projects that have community members and grassroots organizations designing and governing the investment process.

This session will:

  • Discuss how GCEI is building power and creating long-lasting social change for communities by incorporating wider support for and deeper involvement of the grassroots.
  • Explore the additional impact of GCEI – including de-risking through increased community buy-in, spillover effects in civic participation and stronger relationships between place-based capital holders and grassroots organizations.
  • Share examples of funds and other place-based investment projects that are using a range of community engagement in their capital deployment, and use a case study to detail how they can work and who is involved.
  • Provide some of the main recommendations we have for funders and investors to support and strengthen this work.



Meta Themes

  • Equity & Inclusion

  • Stakeholder Economics & Leadership

  • Impact Investing


Community Investment

Purpose and Desired Outcome

To 1) introduce participants to Grassroots Community Engaged Investment (GCEI) as a transformative approach to community investment that builds grassroots power by centering community voices; 2) provide examples of projects that support community-engaged approaches to capital deployment; 3) discuss the different roles of funders in GCEI; 4) and present action steps and recommendations for funders seeking to adopt the practice in their own work.


  • Allocators (Family Offices, HNW Individuals, Foundations)

  • Asset Managers

  • Service Providers


  • NameAndrea Armeni
  • TitleExecutive Director
  • OrganizationTransform Finance
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NamePierre Joseph
  • TitleIndependent Consultant
  • Organization.
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameNia Evans
  • TitleExecutive Director
  • OrganizationBoston Ujima Project
  • StatusInvited
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