Investments in communities, or place-based investments, often target specific problems but do not build long term power for communities. We support investment efforts that share decision making with communities and capitalize projects that communities want.
Investment into communities is one of the most dominant forces in shaping lives, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and working class communities. When we think about issues relevant to place-based investment, we often think about how real estate investment leads to rising rents and displacement, how finance favors large corporations over Main Streets, and the lack of investment for positive projects like affordable housing and small businesses. But even mission-aligned capital can often contribute to those issues.
A major issue with place-based investments is that they are largely out of the control of those whom it affects. Investment efforts should not happen “to” communities, but “with” them; they should respond to, address, and be accountable to the visions, needs, and aspirations of the community itself.
There are many initiatives around the U.S. that are charting a new way for how to place communities at the center of investments. We call this practice Participatory Investment (previously referred to as Grassroots Community Engaged Investment, or GCEI), or the process of investing with meaningful input, decision-making power, and/or ownership from grassroots stakeholders. Participatory Investment projects are building power for their communities, demonstrating an alternative to business as usual that bakes in ownership and democracy into place-based investment.
Participatory Investment is the north star for our support for capital providers who are investing in place – we hope to make all capital accountable to and governed by the communities it serves. However, given the many needs to make PI happen, including pipeline availability, investor readiness, and the right combinations of grant, investment, and organizing support, not all capital that flows into communities can be made through a PI lens. As we work to overcome those constraints, we coordinate place-based investments that are not community-governed but still bake in equity and power building lenses.
Learn all about Participatory Investment and specific GCEI projects that are developing innovative ways to involve community members in investment decision making.The Participatory Investment Learning Hub