Impact Investing

Credits: Left and middle photos by Scott Shaw. Right photo by KX-L Visualizations.

While grantmaking is the primary vehicle for realizing the Altman Foundation’s mission, impact investing provides opportunities to extend and enhance AF’s reach. Most of the Altman Foundation’s impact investments have been Program Related Investments (PRIs) that most often take the form of concessionary loans to non-profits. The Foundation made its first PRI in 2005, when we participated as subordinated lenders in a syndicated financing for Breaking Ground (FKA Common Ground Community HDFC), one of the pioneers in the holistic approach to housing the homeless.

Since then Altman has been among the leaders in NYC-focused PRI making, first on its own and then subsequently, in 2014, by helping to launch the New York Pooled PRI Fund (NYPRI), a successful collaboration of nine NYC foundations. NYPRI is managed by SeaChange Capital Partners, a NYC non-profit merchant bank that plays an important role in sourcing, negotiating, and carrying out due diligence on potential investments, and which, together with pro bono legal work, has proven to be a cost-effective way of pursuing and processing deals that involve multiple partners.

Recent PRIs
In the past year (2017-2018), Altman has provided PRI loans to Gibney (formerly Gina Gibney Dance) and the Local Initiative Support Corporation’s new NYC Inclusive Creative Economy Fund. The Gibney financing helped complete the build-out of new, state-of-the-art studio space (pictured above) on lower Broadway designed to provide non-profit dance companies with much-needed rehearsal and performance space at subsidized rents. LISC’s NYC Inclusive Creative Economy Fund is a pioneering effort to amass impact-investment dollars to help foster growth in the City’s vibrant but underfinanced creative sector, an area so important to inclusive economic growth. Other recent PRI loans have provided pre-development capital for the construction of affordable housing and of community facilities such as child care centers, and expansion capital for a social enterprise that provides technology training and employment to low- and moderate-income jobseekers.

Characteristics

  • PRIs are made--and expected--to be repaid; they are not recoverable grants. A program such as Altman’s represents a valuable pool of recyclable capital for non-profits engaged in projects that would not ordinarily be funded, or more than partially funded, by commercial sources of financing.
  • Altman PRIs are restricted to organizations that are headquartered in or operate programs in one or more of the five boroughs of New York City. The primary focus of Altman’s PRI activity will be with nonprofits or for-profit entities aligned with the Foundation’s mission and program areas.
In addition to PRIs, the Foundation has a portfolio of NYC community development bank and credit union deposits, at market rates of interest. These are principally intended to support lending to small businesses (particularly minority-owned) in underserved areas of the City.

The Foundation is committed to finding new and creative ways to advance its mission in New York City and, increasingly, to leveraging a wider range of its resources (financial and intellectual) in doing so.