For Immediate Release
October 5, 2016
New York, NY – Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (Noyes), a pioneer in the field of sustainable, responsible and impact investing for social justice today announced an open call for letters of interest (LOI) from investment advisors to advance its mission-aligned investing strategy.
“Noyes is soliciting information and ideas from the investment field during a sea change in the the pace of innovation and growth in sustainable, responsible and impact investing,” said Steven Godeke, Noyes Board Member. “We want to push our potential advisors to think broadly about social impacts like equality, diversity, health and human rights as part of our social justice movement building strategy.”
LOIs are due by November 1st. Noyes will review the LOI and then select up to five firms to receive a more detailed request for proposal, and publish a broad analysis and share learnings with philanthropic and investment institutions.
Noyes’ commitment to aligning its mission and investments was triggered in the late 1990s by a board discussion about Intel and the environmental impact the company was having on the Albuquerque, New Mexico water supply and environment. The concern over the negative impact Intel’s plant would have on the water supply and environment of New Mexico was compounded when a board member pointed out that the foundation owned stock in Intel and had approved those investments earlier in the day. It was an eye-opening moment for Noyes, and one that cemented its socially responsible and mission-related investing policies and led to its decision to sell investments that did not align with the Foundation's mission.
Twenty years later, 100% of Noyes’ assets align with its mission, which is dedicated to building a socially and environmentally just society.
“It makes no sense to use five percent of your assets to try to promote something, while the other 95 percent might be doing something totally contrary,” says Wendy Holding, Noyes Board Chair. “We try to use 100 percent of our assets to promote our values.”
“As the impact investment field accelerates, Noyes is committed to deepening the impact of its investments to further its social justice movement building,” says Genaro Lopez Rendon, a Chicano community organizer from Texas recently hired as the Foundation’s president. “By looking at themes that have not traditionally viewed as ‘investable,’ we hope to spur much needed funding for themes such as equality, diversity, health and human rights.”
To drive this exploration, the foundation is using the selection of an investment advisor as a means to surface expertise and increase awareness.
“We are making ourselves a test case and want to continue to share our learnings in a transparent manner with the field,” says Lopez Rendon.
LOI Continues Below.
Open Call for Letters of Interest
October 5, 2016
The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (“Noyes”) will be engaging an investment advisor to partner with our finance committee and board of trustees to advise on the management of the Foundation’s financial assets. Noyes is a private family foundation founded in 1947 and located in New York City with an endowment of approximately $50 million and an annual grantmaking and operating budget of $3 million. Noyes currently supports work in the following focus areas: environmental justice, reproductive rights, sustainable agriculture and food systems, sustainable New York City, and building power across movements.
Noyes envisions a socially just and environmentally sustainable society in which all people are able to gain the knowledge and build the power they need to exercise their rights and participate fully in the economic, social and political decisions that affect their lives and communities.
Noyes is a diverse and inclusive organization working towards a more equitable society. We consistently challenge structural racism, gender inequality, and discrimination based on ethnicity, race, religion, age, sexual orientation, economic status, physical ability, gender and immigration status, and seek to open channels of opportunities for these communities. We believe that people, not corporations, have inalienable rights. The foundation builds the power of people — those most impacted and those who have been marginalized — to be actively involved in advancing solutions to the problems they face. We believe in an environmentally just earth in which all species have the right to co-exist.
Our Theory of Change
We understand that social change occurs over a period of time through a combination of strategies, forces and events both small and large, planned and unplanned. We recognize the special role of diverse, inclusive and democratically controlled grassroots movements—particularly when such movements are driven by the very people impacted by inequity. They are the best advocates to build public support and community understanding as well as drive lasting change. We believe that grassroots movements composed in such a way are among the strongest forces in our society for holding public policy makers and private corporations accountable.
Noyes’ vision, values and theory of change drive both our programmatic and investment strategies. Noyes has been a pioneer in the sustainable, responsible and impact investing field for over 30 years. We have practiced shareholder activism to assist our grantees, supported the development of the field through investor collaborations and seeded innovative environmental and social investment funds. The Foundation has new leadership and is focused on remaining close to our mission of grassroots movement building, and Noyes’ investment resources are a critical part of this heritage.
Our full investment guidelines are available at:
The Investment Advisor Selection Process
In order to gather information about the broadening universe of investment advisors active in the sustainable, responsible and impact investing field, we are holding an open call to the investment community to provide letters of interest as the first stage of our advisor search. Given the accelerating pace of innovation and growth in sustainable, responsible and impact investing, we are soliciting information and ideas from the field to better inform our process, and would welcome your participation.
Please include the following elements in your letter of interest:
Organizational Capacity (2-3 Pages):
· Summary of your organization's capabilities and alignment with Noyes’ values and goals as a social justice investor and grant maker.
· Team members with experience and commitment to sustainable, responsible and impact investing.
· Examples of products that peer clients have invested in across asset classes (equities, fixed income, private equity, real assets, alternatives) and approaches (values/norms-based, best practices, thematic/sustainability solutions, impact).
· Brief description of your due diligence of managers for alignment with Noyes' values and investment objectives.
· Analytical capabilities with respect to integrating Noyes' values and investment objectives into strategic and tactical asset allocation.
In addition, we would like to have your thoughts on the following questions for the field (2-3 pages)
· What does “social justice investing” look like now and in the future?
· Given our resources, how can we more tightly translate our mission (social justice movement building, environmental justice, reproductive health and rights, food equity and sustainable agriculture) into investable opportunities?
· What are the most effective tools (impact investing, ESG stock selection, shareholder engagement and activism, community investing, impact investing, program-related investments) that we might deploy?
· What does corporate accountability mean in this era of globalization of capital and supply chains? How does this translate into portfolio selection?
· How can our mission aligned investment portfolio drive the creation of systemic impact in the areas of social justice, equality, human rights, health and diversity? Are there external initiatives or targets—such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—that might influence our portfolio?
How can the practices and culture of our investment advisors and fund managers embody our values and mission of social justice and equality?
· What investment resources do the grassroots social justice organizations we support need in order to develop sustainable and viable operations?
Please be aware that we will be sharing the results of the broader field questions with philanthropic and investment institutions. Our goal is to describe the current state of the investment advisor community’s ability to integrate social impact into the investment process. We will not share details about the organizational capacity of specific firms.
Following a review of the LOIs, Noyes will select up to five firms that will receive a more detailed RFP and meet with the Finance Committee later this year.
We ask you to please email your LOI no later than COB Tuesday November 1st
. In the interim, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
with any questions.
We greatly appreciate your interest in working with us and your willingness to share your thoughts and ideas. We look forward to reviewing your letter of interest and continuing this conversation.
Genaro Lopez Rendon, President
Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
Steven Godeke, Finance Committee Chair
Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation