Benefit Chicago will provide low-interest loans and other investments to accelerate the efforts of nonprofit organizations and social enterprises working to address key priorities such as education and child care, access to healthy food, affordable housing, energy conservation, and job creation and training. To that end, Calvert will issue up to $50 million in Chicago-targeted Community Investment Notes — fixed-income securities with maturities ranging from one to fifteen years and interest payable annually. Proceeds from the notes — which will be available through Calvert directly, brokerage firms nationwide, and as an option for eligible donor-advised funds at the Chicago Community Trust — will be loaned to a new charitable fund established by MacArthur, which is investing $50 million of its own in the fund. In addition, CCT will invest $15 million in a fifteen-year note using a portion of the donor-advised funds it manages.
According to Bridging the Gap: Impact Investment Supply and Demand in the Chicago Region (20 pages, PDF), a report commissioned by MacArthur and CCT, the unmet need for financial capital in Chicago's social sector totals more than $100 million and could rise to as much as $400 million over the next five years. The report also found that investors are looking for more efficient ways to make local investments with the potential to deliver meaningful social, economic, and environmental impact. Benefit Chicago hopes to bridge that gap by bringing together the experience and capabilities of a private foundation, a community foundation managing substantial donor-advised fund assets, and a nonprofit financial institution.
"Our goal is to provide a simple yet powerful way for everyone to make investments which, ultimately, benefit the dynamic, diverse city we love — making it a better place for all," said MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch. "We view this as an idea with universal appeal. MacArthur looks forward to sharing Benefit Chicago's fresh approach with those who may want to replicate it elsewhere, and to applying it in other ways so that the social sector benefits more fully from rising interest in impact investing around the world."