In 2008, Living Cities launched the Catalyst Fund, a pool of flexible debt capital that invests in intermediaries and organizations that create opportunities for low-income people in America’s cities. The Fund seeks to achieve both financial and social returns by investing in the development of healthy, sustainable communities and the creation of economic opportunity. The Fund is also designed to advance and complement the Living Cities agenda.
Currently, the Fund has nearly $35 million in commitments from ten investors. In four years, we’ve made $24.65 million in cumulative loan commitments across 12 transactions. Further, our loan capital has helped launch initiatives with total funding of nearly $400 million, resulting in a leverage ratio of 16x. Last month, the Catalyst Fund was recognized for a second consecutive year as part of the ImpactAssets 50 – an open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity investment fund managers.
The Catalyst Fund has been critical to advancing the Living Cities agenda and has supported Community Development Financial Institutions working to address issues such as small business lending, fresh food, foreclosure mitigation and energy efficiency. In 2008, we closed a $2 million loan to Craft3 to support their lending as part of Clean
Energy Works Portland (CEWP), an innovative on-bill, single-family energy efficiency program. Since then, the program has expanded to a statewide program, Clean Energy Works Oregon (CEWO), and we increased the loan amount by an additional $2 million. Due to CEWO’s strong Community Workforce Agreement, the average wage for work performed on these retrofits was $23/hour. Over 40% of the work was performed by people of color and 30% of the work was performed by businesses owned by women or minorities.
The Fund is also a critical component of Living Cities’ signature Integration Initiative and
has helped spur Living Cities work on capital innovation. For more details, please check out the Catalyst Fund 2012 Annual Report here.