1800Recycling.com, an interactive website dedicated to enhancing and democratizing the consumer recycling experience, has announced a new partnership with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the Voice of the Recycling Industry.
The partnership will help educate 1800Recycling’s users about scrap recycling and will provide them access to ISRI’s array of valuable online resources for consumers, businesses, local governments and students.
ISRI members are manufacturers and processors, brokers and industrial consumers of scrap commodities, including ferrous and nonferrous metals, paper, electronics, rubber, plastics, glass, and textiles. ISRI’s associate members include equipment and service providers to the scrap recycling industry. Manufacturers and sellers of equipment and services—such as shredders, balers, cranes, cargo transporters, computer systems, and more—find value in promoting the scrap recycling industry through their membership in ISRI (www.isri.org ).
As part of the new relationship, all ISRI members have been added to the 1800recycling database.
“We are extremely proud to be partnering with our friends and industry colleagues at ISRI,” said John Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the nation’s leading recycler of electronics and e-waste, and parent company of 1800Recycling.com. “At 1800Recycling, our mission is to simplify the process of recycling, and education is a significant element of that process. Teaming with and combining our resources with the consortium of recycling industry thought leaders at ISRI enables us to provide the best possible educational resources available in the world of scrap recycling for all our audiences.”
“We’re thrilled to work with the innovative 1800Recycling team,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “Their 1800Recycling.com searchable database is an outstanding resource to help people and businesses connect with our members in their communities to recycle properly. Their commitment to recycling is also consistent with our own and we’re pleased to be able to reach 1800Recycling’s diverse audience with information that will help educate them and empower them to become even more effective and efficient recyclers.”
Among the ISRI online resources that are now available as links on the 1800Recycling site are: Commodities Information, Economic and Jobs Data, scrap metal theft prevention programs, the Design for Recycling Award (recognizing manufacturers that take recycling into consideration when designing a product), and Education Resources for students, including classroom posters and curriculum for K-12 classrooms supporting STEM education, all developed by ISRI in partnership with JASON Learning.
Via its mobile app, online resource and phone service, 1800Recycling.com provides information about recycling services and facilities to anyone, anywhere by ZIP code. Designed to make the recycling process easy and more accessible, 1800Recycling.com’s nationwide search functionality will also become a clickable icon on the ISRI site.
For more information on general recycling needs, visit
“The Voice of the Recycling Industry” and “Design for Recycling” are registered trademarks of ISRI.
Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the world’s largest privately held recycler of electronic waste, is e-Stewards and R2 certified to de-manufacture and recycle every type of electronic waste in an environmentally friendly manner. ERI processes more than 275 million pounds of electronic waste annually at eight locations serving every zip code in the United States. For more information about e-waste recycling and ERI, call 1-800-ERI-DIRECT or visit www.electronicrecyclers.com
Transaction follows earlier purchase of Justmeans.com and consolidates independent CSR-related news distribution services
3BL Media, the leading news distribution and content marketing platform for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability information, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of CSRwire.
This acquisition completes the consolidation of independent CSR and sustainability news distribution services, following 3BL Media’s previous acquisition of Justmeans.com. The companies will operate from Northampton, Mass., where 3BL Media is based. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
“As the former COO of CSRwire for several years, I am excited to work again with this well respected brand and welcome it to the 3BL Media family,” said Greg Schneider, CEO and Co-Founder of 3BL Media. “All of us at 3BL look forward to working with CSRwire’s members, partners and readers.”
The addition of CSRwire to the 3BL Media distribution network serves the growing need of corporations, non-profits and SMEs to efficiently and effectively reach a targeted audience of media, professionals and consumers focused on CSR and sustainability, which has become critical as individual and corporate purchasing decisions increasingly take social and environmental and governance policies and practices into account.
3BL Media was founded in 2009 by former management of CSRwire in order to improve upon the traditional press release newswire method of announcing CSR initiatives.
3BL Media’s news distribution and content marketing platform enables organizations to distribute their blogs, videos, reports, articles and press releases through all of today’s most widely used digital channels, incorporating traditional and legacy news portals and databases with social media and new media channels.
The SaaS-based platform, which is offered only on a subscription basis, provides clients with a way to distribute content in variety and frequency more effectively and affordably than traditional services such as newswires.
3BL Media’s analytics, tracking and benchmarking provide real-time data back to the client to help inform and shape content creation and external messaging strategy.
CSRwire, which has more than 7,000 corporate, non-profit and public sector members was founded in 1999 in Brattleboro, VT and moved to Springfield, Mass., in 2005. The acquisition of CSRwire will allow 3BL Media to further expand and enhance the distribution and exposure of news and content from 3BL Media’s client base, comprised of Fortune 1000 companies, non-profits, NGOs and small businesses.
Since its inception, the CSRwire.com website has been a leading destination for readers of CSR press releases and editorial content contributed by more than 100 of the most respected and influential bloggers, writers and practitioners.
“CSRwire.com will be a focus of investment and cross promotion by 3BL Media and its web properties including, 3BLMedia.com, Justmeans.com and Socialearth.org,” said Schneider. “Each of these platforms provides a different focus on content type, issues and readership. CSRwire.com is a natural fit for 3BL Media and will enlarge the customer base it serves, and its overall readership of CSR and sustainability news and content.”
About 3BL Media
3BL Media (www.3blmedia.com ) is a leading news and content distribution company focused on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability and related topics. Clients include Fortune 1000, multinational corporations, SME’s, and non-profits that rely on the 3BL Media distribution platform to distribute press releases, blogs, videos, reports and other media assets through social, traditional and new media channels. 3BL Media leverages its expertise in communications, technology and social media to enable organizations to more effectively communicate about their CSR and sustainability initiatives to a highly targeted audience including media, investors, practitioners, consumers and other stakeholder groups. 3BL Media is the publisher and producer of The CSR Minute™ and owns and operates www.justmeans.com and www.CSRwire.com .
Greg Schneider, CEO, 3BL Media
Phone 866-508-0993 x113
Source: 3BL Media
The first two quarters of 2014 show the Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) at $5.7 trillion in private investments and commitments since 2007. This confirms the green economy is on track to reach $10 trillion in investments by 2020 to effectively scale innovations and reduce costs in green technologies as the world transitions to the Solar Age.
The 2014 mid-year update “Green Bonds Growing Green Infrastructure” focuses on the bond markets’ addition of green, impact and ESG (environmental, social, governance) targeted bond issues. These new bonds provide long-term investment opportunities to pension funds and other institutional investors as global policy makers, corporations and asset managers see demand for investments in infrastructure, environmental, social and human capital being integrated into financial markets.
Read the full mid-year update here-
The movement to divest from fossil fuel companies, led principally by 350.org, has been growing rapidly. More and more, investors want to rid their portfolios of coal, oil and gas companies, and invest in more sustainable companies.
Green Century’s fossil fuel free Equity Fund (http://greencentury.com/our-funds/equity-fund ) surpassed $100 million in August 2014, growing by over $20 million in total net assets since April 1, 2014, when it screened out the last remaining gas companies and any companies with significant carbon fuel reserves.
“The rapid growth of the Green Century Equity Fund is a meaningful marker for everyone supporting the fossil fuel free investing movement” stated Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management, the advisor to the Green Century Funds. “We are thrilled that investors can align their financial concerns about carbon risk with their moral concerns about a warming planet” stated Samuelrich.
“I think individuals, financial advisors, schools and churches are turning to Green Century because we aren’t just dabbling in the issue to see if we can increase market share. Green Century has not invested in coal or major oil companies for many years, and we are proud that Green Century is the first family of responsible, diversified, fossil fuel free mutual funds in the nation,” stated Samuelrich. “We believe that this new wave of investors wants experienced mutual fund managers who are authentically green.”
The Green Century Funds have been helping investors avoid the worst polluters and the potential risks that these companies may pose since 1992. Green Century Capital Management employs a triple bottom-lined approach: screened investments, shareholder advocacy, and a unique ownership structure – it is founded and owned by nonprofit environmental organizations.
You should consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. To obtain a Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds, please click here, email email@example.com or call 1-800-93-GREEN. Please read the Prospectus carefully before investing.
Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, or the market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Bonds are subject to risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation. The Funds’ environmental criteria limit the investments available to the Funds compared to mutual funds that do not use environmental criteria.
This information has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable. The views expressed are as of the date of this writing and are those of the Advisor to the Funds.
The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC, 9/14
By Barbara Strickland and Matt Gaulding
Venture Greenhouse 2.0 relaunched in San Rafael, CA in July 2014 to welcome its first cohort of 11 entrepreneurs representing various industries.
Venture Greenhouse 2.0 is a Marin County-based business accelerator, helping entrepreneurs from the greater San Francisco Bay Area launch and scale their start-up businesses to make significant impacts in their industries. Venture Greenhouse 2.0 provides entrepreneurs with a full spectrum of resources, business expertise and access to capital.
Venture Greenhouse 2.0 has developed and refined a rigorous, milestone-driven, one-day-a-week, 12-month acceleration program over the past three years. It provides entrepreneurs with an expert team of mentors, advisors, professional service providers and MBA interns, as well as access to investors, – with one focus – a company’s success. The common thread among all of our client companies is that an element of their product, service, business process, or operations is changing the status quo of their industry and/or market to become more sustainable. Further, we help companies integrate resource-efficient strategies and processes to enhance revenues, increase bottom-line profitability, and make the company more attractive to investors and customers.
Venture Greenhouse 2.0 has strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations that share its vision of building economic vitality in Marin County. Some of their strategic partners include: MarinLink, Renaissance Center Marin, and North Bay Investors Circle.
MarinLink identifies and fulfills unmet community needs, strengthening Marin communities through innovation and collaboration. Renaissance Center is an organization that empowers and increases the entrepreneurial capacities of socially and economically diverse women and men, thereby strengthening their communities through the creation of sustainable new businesses, new jobs and the promotion of financial self-sufficiency. North Bay Investors Circle promotes the transition to a sustainable economy by increasing the flow of capital to enterprises that are addressing social and environmental challenges.
Cheryl Page and Elizabeth Yvrot, two of Venture Greenhouse 2.0’s current clients, share their experiences:
Cheryl Page, founder of California Team Wear provides a turnkey solution for schools, students and sports teams to easily customize and order spirit and team wear in an online store. Cheryl explains, “I had never heard of an accelerator program and was overwhelmed with trying to start my business on my own. I came to the application information presentation and was impressed with the curriculum outline, community support and structure.” Website- www.californiateamwear.com
Elizabeth Yvrot, founder of Argana Vita,an organic skin and hair care line made of the finest and most potent raw natural ingredients, explains, “When starting a business you know what you want to have, but you are not clear on how to get there. Venture Greenhouse 2.0 offers a path while learning the investor language.”
Article by Barbara Strickland, and Matt Gaulding, Venture Greenhouse
The Buckminster Fuller Institute ( http://bfi.org ) is pleased to announce the Semi-Finalists for the 2014 Fuller Challenge. Named “Socially Responsible Design’s Highest Award”, the Fuller Challenge invites scientists, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners from all over the world to submit their innovative solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy.
The twenty proposals now under consideration for the grand prize were selected out of an entry pool of over 450 proposals and have undergone a rigorous review for adherence to the Challenge entry criteria. Find more information- http://bfi.org/challenge/about/criteria
Each project has been through three rounds of vetting by the members of the Challenge Review Committee including targeted analysis and evaluation by a select group of experts and advisors. Find more information- http://bfi.org/challenge/about/selection-process/advisory-team
The proposals submitted by the Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalists showcase an exemplary body of work — each presenting an integrated strategy to address a pressing global issue, ranging from sanitation, health, food, and poverty to water systems, conservation, and design.
“These projects deserve the attention of the world for their commitment to ‘solving for system’ – an approach that takes an unusual degree of insight, patience, tenacity and courage,” said Elizabeth Thompson, BFI’s Executive Director. “The individuals and teams behind these initiatives have made extraordinary efforts to define the systemic context underlying the problem they are seeking to solve, and provide much needed hope and encouragement that solutions to our most entrenched problems are indeed at hand.”
“While only one project will receive the $100,000 cash prize, they all deserve and need our support. We are thrilled to announce that, in addition to these twenty fantastic initiatives, the benefits of our Catalyst Program will be extended to dozens of additional project leaders and teams. More information about the Catalyst Program and a full list of program participants will be announced soon,” added Sarah Skenazy, The Fuller Challenge Program Manager.
Challenge Finalists will be announced in the Fall and celebrated at a ceremony in New York City in mid-November.
The 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi-Finalists Include:
Algal Turf Scrubbing generates a fast growing, easily harvested, filamentous polyculture of hundreds of natural, locally adapted algae species over a new, highly efficient 3D screen surface beneath a shallow flow of water to oxygenate and purify water, produce biomass for biofuel and organic fertilizer, mitigate pollution from agricultural run-off, improve freshwater and coastal habitats, and sequester carbon and reduce fossil fuel dependency.
AskNature is an immense, web-based interactive database, learning tool, and living Biomimicry encyclopedia, which seeks to catalog and propagate solutions to the most pressing human challenges by drawing from time-tested strategies evolved by nature. AskNature aspires to make biomimetic solutions widely accessible for educational and industrial applications. Website- http://www.asknature.org
Bonobo Peace Forest is growing a network of community-managed and protected forests in remote, immense swaths of rainforest in the Congo Basin, using a “viral” conservation strategy that partners with local indigenous peoples and the government to engender sustainable prosperity while preserving the habitat of our closest genetic relative, the endangered Bonobo.
Concern America seeks to transform conventional healthcare by training and empowering community members in the most remote, disrupted and under-served locales to take prevention and healing into their own hands and virally spread training in their regions. Disrupting the hegemonic concept of institutionally recognized healthcare, the organization has built local capacity, demonstrating that HPP-trained practitioners can treat 80 percent of primary medical cases. HPP is finalizing training manuals of best practices developed over four decades to disseminate their model. Website- http://www.concernamerica.org
Earth Roofs for the Sahel trains members of impoverished communities in Africa’s semi-arid Sahel region to build long-lasting, passively cooled earth buildings. The codified, traditional Egyptian Nubian Vault design creates an affordable, locally sourced, environmentally sustainable built environment; the construction training generates a self-replicating cadre of skilled masons throughout the region and engenders entrepreneurship. A self-sustaining, virally expanding market results, transforming the quality of life and economic capacity of communities.
Ecosoftt is an emerging Singapore and India-based social enterprise that is the first to develop decentralized, adaptable, chemical-free, cost-effective water systems that combine rainwater harvesting, wastewater recycling, groundwater replenishment and other technological innovations in Asia. Their systems are adaptable to both poor rural and prosperous urban contexts. They aim to revolutionize water systems throughout Asia and beyond, bring clean water to under-served communities and offer an inspiring model of social enterprise as an alternative to government or privately run water systems. Website- http://www.ecosoftt.org
Finance Innovation Lab is a UK-based non-profit that aims to strategically shift the existing financial paradigm to one that values sustainability and resilience. The Lab works on the system from the bottom up by convening gatherings of innovators, nurturing entrepreneurs, encouraging alternative business models, and seeking to influence economic policies and financial regulation. Website- http://www.thefinancelab.org
The Food Commons aims to transform local and regional food systems by creating larger, more highly organized and coordinated physical, financial, and organizational infrastructures for specific regions and connecting them to the global economy in order to boost and facilitate investments, encourage partnerships and cooperative ownership, and create a genuinely sustainable model of a local and global food economy. Website- http://www.thefoodcommons.org
The Force Majeure, a bold, large-scale vision of the deeply beloved and respected, world-renowned artists Helen and Newton Harrison, aims to reduce the entropy of planetary ecosystems in the face of human-induced climate change. Four sites have been proposed in which the Harrisons and scientists will experiment with methods to assist nature in its response to massive system disturbance. Website- http://theharrisonstudio.net/?page_id=806
Fuego Del Sol Haiti is a social enterprise that confronts Haiti’s deadly charcoal addiction through development, introduction and adoption of innovative ecological fuel briquettes, presses, stoves, and the training and empowerment of women. Fuego Del Sol, the largest upcycler in Haiti, also collects and separates a wide range of waste materials into sustainable products and plans to include farming, green building, and land reclamation. Website- https://sites.google.com/a/elfuegodelsol.com/elfuego
Gardens for Health International, an NGO pioneering the integration of nutrition-based agriculture into the clinical care of malnutrition, partners with rural Rwandan health clinics to implement healthcare strategies that include nutritional education and the nurturing of home gardens of nutrient rich foods for each family. They are seeking to expand this program throughout Rwanda and into Uganda, Burundi, and beyond. This elegant model could be replicated globally to address malnutrition. Website- http://www.gardensforhealth.org
International Bridges to Justice works tirelessly to abolish torture and assure fair judicial processes by strengthening existing legal systems worldwide. They offer in person and web-based trainings in international and local best practices and legal skills for attorneys, judges, and law enforcement officials, seek to nurture a global legal community that can be supportive and protective of lawyers and officials working in difficult contexts, and develop training modules in many languages to help propagate solid human rights-based legal knowledge.
International Youth Network for Food Security and Sovereignty trains rural youth in Mexico and Central America in a highly participatory process to develop sustainable food systems in their communities through social, ecological and technological innovation. With a broader goal of agro-ecological transformation across Central America and beyond, the network seeks to re-imbue communities with traditional ecological values while drawing from modern best practices. Trained and empowered youth leaders are the ideal vectors to propagate genuine sustainability. Website- http://www.canunite.org
Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic seeks to address the logistical problems of providing healthcare to communities in the highly under-served, infrastructure-poor Lake Tanganyika Basin region by building and deploying a floating medical and research facility. Through the growth of a radio network, collaboration with local partners, healthcare training, ecological education and more, the clinic will serve as a mobile hub of communication and cooperation between remote, vulnerable communities in one of the earth’s richest freshwater ecosystems.
Living Breakwaters is a comprehensive design for coastal resiliency along the Northeastern Seaboard of the United States and beyond. This approach to climate change adaptation and flood mitigation includes the deployment of innovative, layered ecologically engineered concrete underwater breakwaters, the strengthening of biodiversity and coastal habitats, the nurturing and resuscitation of fisheries, and deep community engagement through diverse partnerships and innovative educational programs. Website- http://www.scapestudio.com/projects/living-breakwaters
Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Restoration Plan, A comprehensive, detailed regeneration plan for the Makoko/Iwaya community in Lagos, Nigeria, which was threatened with being razed, seeks to preserve local culture and social relationships, revitalize the built environment, increase economic opportunities, and ensure disaster resilience for over 40,000 residents. Its implementation revolves around community inclusion and local leadership and the empowering of women and youth. The plan holds the preservation of traditional lagoon-front culture as a core value, presenting a compelling vision of a floating economy based on sustainable aquaculture and tourism. Website-
Multifunctional Membrane: Self-Active Building Cells, Not Building Blocks are the centerpieces of a technology that could potentially provide inexpensive, biodegradable, living, breathing “skins” for buildings that would auto-regulate in response to heat, light and humidity and provide climate control, ventilation and lighting without mechanical systems, thereby radically reducing energy use and costs, especially in tropical regions under critical environmental and socio-economic stresses. Website- http://www.bioms.info
Sistema Biobolsa provides farmers in Mexico, Central America and Haiti with an on-site waste-to-nutrient ecosystem: a biomimetic, modular advanced geo-membrane anaerobic biodigester that converts organic waste into biogas and fertilizer, increasing local capacity and resiliency and boosting health and livelihoods as it provides safe, non-toxic thermal, mechanical, and electrical generation not previously affordable to small farmers. Distributed through innovative micro-financing mechanisms and entrepreneurial capacity building, this project has great potential to boost sustainable farming globally.
Slow Money catalyzes the flow of investment capital into local food economies and place-based enterprises in North America and Europe, seeking to “bring money back down to earth” through communications, education, convenings, investment clubs, liaison services, and shared learning networks. This integrated effort to restore fiduciary responsibility and nurture sustainable enterprises aims for a systemic transformation of food systems and local economies. Website- http://slowmoney.org
Thunder Valley Regenerative Community Plan, born of a collective vision, has created a comprehensive plan to build a locally owned and operated development in the geographic center of the Oglala Lakota Nation, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one of the poorest and most disenfranchised parts of the country. The goal is to resuscitate the local economy and traditional culture and provide attractive, culturally appropriate affordable housing in the context of a deeply sustainable community with a net-zero built environment that could serve as a compelling, dynamic model for the rest of Indian country and the world. Website- http://www.thundervalley.org
More information on the awards and the finalists –
by David Levine, Co-founder/CEO, and
Richard Eidlin, Public Policy Director
American Sustainable Business Council
Great opportunities lie ahead for America: strong consumer buying power from a workforce that is productively employed in meaningful work, financial stability, accessible health care, food security, and a clean and healthy environment. These essential components of a sustainable economy will meet our country’s economic, social and environmental needs. And they’re all within reach – if business leaders take their leadership to the next level.
Unfortunately, for too long now, institutional lobbying groups that say they represent business have opposed improvements based on the old notion that businesses must choose between jobs and clean air and water, between profitability and fairness, and between growth and healthy communities. The media have reinforced this misunderstanding. The dominant narrative has become that the business community doesn’t want action on climate change, smart regulations, a living wage and other important issues. But we know that’s not true.
Increasingly, polling shows that small business owners, of which there are some 28 million in the U.S., are aligning more and more with the general public on important policy issues, whether environmental, economic, health and safety, and so on. For example, large majorities want to improve clean water regulations, decrease carbon in the atmosphere and increase the minimum wage.
But polls don’t visit their elected representatives in government like lobbyists do every day. And polls don’t write op-eds or letters to the editor. And they don’t get quoted in news articles.
In order to change the narrative, business people who are passionate about building both sustainable business and the economy need to become more visible on the issues and engaged on policy.
Our organization, the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), can help.
ASBC offers sustainably minded business leaders and organizations the resources, access and representation needed to be heard by decision-makers on the issues and policies that matter to them. ASBC also helps business leaders take their own business success stories and use them to influence other businesses and policymakers at work on the local, state and national levels.
ASBC believes that a market-based economy is the most powerful engine of prosperity yet devised. We also believe that the market must be structured far differently than it is today for the good of businesses, for all Americans, and for the seven billion people who share this planet. For instance, in our economy many costs that should be borne by producers are instead transferred to the public who pay for them through such classic externalities as poor health, air pollution and higher prices.
We call on government to empower the engines of our economy—businesses —to be agents of growth and revitalization. Businesses need to stand up and encourage government to create a set of incentives and market signals that level the playing field and lead to a more equitable and sustainable economy.
We are unifying companies and business groups to change the current, shortsighted systems and build a sustainable economy. ASBC aggregates business power, informs and advocates to policymakers, and improves our members’ media presence. This strategy transforms the public debate and lets forward-thinking business leaders show and tell what the majority of the business community really wants.
Public policy is a crucial strategy to transform the economy from the sometimes-damaging system it can be today. But if passionate, sustainably minded business leaders are not at the table, only the voices of legacy, profit-at all costs business lobbies will be heard. And our economy and society will suffer.
Yes, the policy process can be frustrating, but so can business. Good leaders don’t let that stop them. They understand that public policy action takes the same skills business management does: Drive to improve, big-picture thinking, the ability to sell an idea, a long-term planning horizon, intelligent compromise, and an accurate assessment of the cost vs. benefit of every decision.
Through informing and empowering business leaders and working with them to influence and enroll policymakers, ASBC is working to invigorate the economy with innovative approaches; support safer chemicals and products; create greater transparency throughout supply chains; support fair workplaces, address pressing issues as climate change; work toward a level playing field on taxes and subsidies; work to acknowledge full cost of doing business and address externalities; preserve essential regulations that safeguard our food, drinking water and other common assets. ASBC engages businesses to use their skills, experience and insights to guide business and policymakers toward lasting answers to today’s crucial issues.
Specifically, for each issue, business leaders join with ASBC to:
One ASBC member may already have built a strong relationship with a state legislator. Another may have the skill to help quantify externalities or interpret survey data. Yet another may be comfortable articulating the importance of an issue on-camera or writing an op-ed. Whatever your business skill-set, you can put it to use improving America’s public and economic policies through ASBC.
ASBC was formed to unite the business community, show that business leaders want responsible change, and to reframe the debate over the future of our economy. Since 2009, the American Sustainable Business Council and the ASBC Action Fund have come to represent a membership network of more than 200,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors. Our diverse members of business organizations are comprised of trade associations, local and state chambers of commerce, microenterprise, social enterprise, cooperatives, green and sustainable business groups, local and community-rooted business, women business leaders, economic development organizations and investor and business incubators. In addition a wide range of companies, including Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Method, Stonyfield Farm, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Etsy, Organic Valley, New Belgium Brewery, American Income Life, Green Depot, New Resource Bank, Naturepedic, and Trillium Asset Management and many known and unknown names has joined ASBC.
ASBC Hot Button Issues
Because of the comprehensiveness of how we define a sustainable economy, ASBC works on a wide range of policy issues. These include: campaign finance, water quality, climate change, net neutrality, financial accountability, health care, chemical policy reform, community based economic development, workplace fairness, benefit corporations and other key issues that affect our country. Business can champion policies that facilitate economic, social and environmental benefit. The legacy industries and the media have told America that the entire business community is against these measures.
Water quality is an ABSC issue that affects all businesses and consumers. ASBC is working with businesses such as New Belgium Brewing Company and organizations such as the North Carolina Business Council to support a federal EPA rule on clean water. They also supported state-level action in West Virginia following the Elk River chemical spill earlier this year. Every business that gets involved in those efforts knows that clean water is essential for their operations, their workforce and the economy.
Net neutrality – preserving equal access to the Internet – is another important cause to ASBC. Net neutrality prevents the information superhighway from breaking into the fast lanes for a few, and slow lanes for the rest, and lets all players gain and retain the share of attention they’ve earned, not bought. Net neutrality lets the market work the way it is supposed to, and thriving companies including Etsy and Better World Telecom have already joined to mobilize the business community to send comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that businesses don’t want a two-tiered system. They know that if they don’t speak up, businesses across the country — theirs included – will be unfairly hampered.
To address another important issue, climate change, ASBC and its members are contacting members of Congress, arranging Hill visits, supporting innovative legislation such as Clean Energy Victory Bonds, sending comments to the EPA about their upcoming rules on power plants, and hosting business focused events across the nation to bring the voices of enlightened business leaders to forefront.
For example, in cooperation with the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, ASBC launched the Businesses against Sea Level Rise Initiative. This educational campaign encouraged coastal businesses to create and post sea level markers showing tourists and locals the projected new sea level in 30 years — in many cases, leaving their economy underwater, while also encouraging municipalities to take action.
These are just a few of the ways ASBC helps time-crunched-but-concerned business leaders make an impact on public policy that affects their companies and communities. Many don’t require a great amount of time or effort because they leverage the work of many other like-minded leaders doing the same thing. Together, they are telling America that its business community is not one monolithic group with a short-sighted, narrow corporate objective after all, but rather one with a vision and strategy for a strong, healthy and sustainable economy.
As this new narrative continues to gain traction, companies have found that policymakers not only listen, they actively seek out those business leaders. Such is one of the opportunities by the upcoming Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy, November 12-14, part of which is hosted by the White House.
Media, too, are interested in a fresh angle from fresh contributors on entrenched problems. ASBC empowers our member companies to give policymakers and opinion-leaders a different story, improve business practices using familiar cost/benefit assessments, and offer strong political support for policies that foster reliable growth and stability.
Bottom line: Policy makers listen when businesses move past stale, status-quo statements to show and tell how profit and broad prosperity can be achieved simultaneously, how innovation enables businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, and how sustainability is the right value for business policy.
The business perspective matters – especially to policymakers. Just ask them. Then do more: Make them prove it by getting engaged. Tell your sustainable business success story, and advocate for the policies that will move our economy onto a sustainable footing. A lot of American business leaders will be doing the same thing, so you’ll be in good company.
In closing we invite to our Business Summit – Accelerating the Policies that Advance a Sustainable Economy
Join the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) at the 3rd Annual Business Summit, November 12-14, 2014, in Washington, D.C., for an up-close and candid opportunity to exchange ideas with the White House and Members of Congress. With a new Congress coming to D.C., this Summit will enable sustainable businesses to influence the policies that will make the American economy more vibrant and just. Gain valuable insight into where policy is evolving in 2015, and learn how your company or organization can help shape the agenda.
Article by David Levine, Co-founder/CEO, and Richard Eidlin, Public Policy Director, American Sustainable Business Council. More information at- http://asbcouncil.org
by Steve Schueth and George Gay,
First Affirmative Financial Network
How time flies! When your work is in service to humanity; when your business has a higher purpose; when you are on the “bleeding edge” of birthing and growing a new industry; when at the end of almost every day you feel tired and fulfilled — time really does fly.
It’s been twenty-five years since George Gay hosted the first SRI Conference. It was an innovative way to comply with a regulatory requirement that he conduct a “compliance audit” of each of the advisors he was responsible for supervising. At that time, in 1990, some 40 representatives of the firm were scattered across the country and the financial resources needed to travel and visit each of the far-flung offices simply weren’t available.
Two years before, the company that is now First Affirmative Financial Network had committed to a focus on SRI, which in those days was an acronym for “socially responsible investing.” The venue for that first conference was a little dude ranch not far from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the theme of that first gathering of a few dozen socially conscious investment advisors supported by a hand full of sponsoring organizations was “SRI in the Rockies.”
Fast-forward twenty-five years. SRI is now shorthand for “Sustainable, Responsible, Impact” and The SRI Conference is the longest running event of its kind in the world. The SRI Conference is a place where investors and investment professionals who are working to direct the flow of investment capital in more positive, healthy, and transformative ways come together to teach and learn and collaborate. It’s an annual event that has helped catalyze the understanding that all investments have impact, and that intentionally directing investment strategies for positive impact can produce competitive financial returns while enhancing the common good.
In 2011, SRI in the Rockies became The SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing. Why are those three words so important and so meaningful? Because they reflect the motivations and inspirations of investors who are attracted to this more conscious approach to investing. Such investors are generally…
• Seeking to own the most responsible corporate citizens—companies of the future.
• Wanting their investments to produce competitive returns and have a positive impact on our world—at the same time.
Many long-time friends and conference attendees cannot kick the habit of calling this conference “SRI in the Rockies.” That’s okay. We share fond memories of the days when we all worked on the fringes of the financial services industry to change the way money works in the world. We feel a deep bond with the many industry colleagues who attended previous conferences with the intention of figuring out how to direct the flow of investment capital to change the world for the better. Together we have come a long way toward proving the concept — that ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) analysis and integration can reduce risk and enhance long-term portfolio returns. Most importantly, we know that your appreciation for the industry-building role that The SRI Conference has played runs deep.
Hosting The SRI Conference has allowed us to bring friends to some of the most beautiful locations in the United States. Off-season ski resorts like Snowmass, Breckenridge, Keystone, Snowbird, and Big Sky led to Lake Louise and Whistler in Canada. Jackson Lake Lodge in 1996 was where we held the first joint event co-produced by First Affirmative and the Social Investment Forum (now US SIF). The unforgettable 9-11 experience created bonds that will never be broken. Bishop’s Lodge and Tamaya in New Mexico; our visit to Lake Tahoe; the beautiful JW Marriott properties in Tucson and San Antonio stand in stark contrast to the earliest days with intimate groups at the rustic Hidden Valley Ranch and The Nature Place.
But, of course, more important than the places were the people. Memorable speakers were commonplace, with every key leader in the SRI space joining us at least once and for some, many times over the years. Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, notable authors from Dr. Jane Goodall to Deepak Chopra, and key thought leaders like Joel Makower, Jed Emerson, David Blood, William McDonough, Hunter Lovins, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Tom Steyer (just to name a few) have shared the main stage with our industry’s internal experts.
Ranging from 45 people at the first gathering in 1990 to 700 participants at Whistler, our extended family has joined us for a reunion of sorts every year for over two decades. The SRI Conference has created key opportunities to share a meal or a hike or a soak in a hot tub; and unparalleled opportunities for networking and recharging batteries for a return to the important work to be done. Many initiatives were identified, working groups created, and collaborations formed around critical regulatory or corporate advocacy campaigns.
Each conference arrives just a little bit more quickly than the one before. A few friends, such as Joan Bavaria and Peter Camejo, are no longer with us, and others are no longer up to the trip. But each year we welcome the new, energetic industry leaders, and eagerly welcome other new participants as we observe a growing realization that responsible investing is a key component of the solution set for so many challenges facing our world today.
In 2002, during our first visit to The Broadmoor, Mel Miller, then of Dubuque Bank & Trust, in his Economic Forecast, predicted that within a decade, we would fill the Broadmoor Hotel. Mel’s predictions were off by just a little… Now he’s First Affirmative’s Chief Economist; no one predicted that. And this will be our fourth trip to The Broadmoor!
The Curtain Rises on the 2014 Conference – November 9 – 11
Steve facilitates the work of a 15-person volunteer Agenda Committee, develops the content, and populates The SRI Conference with experts and thought leaders on a variety of issues. Once again this year, the Agenda Committee was challenged with reviewing some 90 proposals to fill just 20 breakout session time slots. The “embarrassment of wealth” in terms of speakers recommended and topics proposed is truly remarkable and somewhat overwhelming (in a good way!). The Agenda Committee does an extraordinary job of identifying the most juicy and timely topics, weaving proposals with similar approaches together, and creating outstanding content for all conference participants to enjoy.
Our opening night speaker this year is Susan K. Avery, President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dr. Avery will provide a holistic update to the climate change challenges we all face — including affects and impacts on our land, sea, air, and atmosphere, and implications for companies and investors.
Another plenary session focused on the crucially important topic of women’s empowerment will feature Barbara Krumsiek, President and CEO of Calvert Investments; Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing; and Julie Gorte, Senior Vice President for Sustainable Investing at Pax World Management. This panel of experts will explore how we as investors can mobilize our tools and influence to help corporations understand the importance of women’s empowerment and its relevance to the company’s value proposition, competitive advantage, and long-term performance.
Former Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, now the Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, will engage with us on the topic of state leadership (since we aren’t seeing much in the way of leadership out of Washington). Gov. Ritter will be joined on stage by Cylvia Hayes, CEO of 3E Strategies and First Lady of the State of Oregon for a high energy exchange about how it’s up to us — how states and municipalities are powering forward and leading the way to a truly sustainable future.
Patrick Doherty, Director of the Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University, will be discussing a project aimed at developing a Grand Strategy for the United States, similar to that which guided both government and business in the wake of WWII. And Amory Lovins will be updating the predictions presented in his 2012 book, Reinventing Fire, and talking about some of the futuristic things that investors and consumers can look forward to. When we first met Amory more than 20 years ago, he was talking about hybrid automobiles — and now many people who will attend The SRI Conference drive a Prius, or a similar hybrid from a competing manufacturer.
We have organized the breakout sessions into four tracks: ESG Integration and Portfolio Management, Impact Investing, Shareowner Advocacy, and Professional Education. We expect to be able to offer 4-6 hours of continuing education credit for investment professionals with CFP and CIMA designations. Breakout session topics will cover stranded asset risks, water issues, going beyond GDP, innovations in shareowner advocacy, the impact Millennials and women will have on our industry, and the “great debate” over Modern Portfolio Theory.
The main stage of The SRI Conference will also be the platform for awarding the 19th annual Moskowitz Prize for academic research on a topic of interest to the SRI/ESG industry. We are also proud to once again be awarding the EthicMark Award for videos that uplift the human spirit. And the 25th annual SRI Service Award will be part of the finale on November 11th — followed by a party and dancing into the wee hours!
Topic Tables are perhaps one of the most popular elements of an SRI Conference experience — especially for first-time attendees. Topic Tables are popular conversation circles that provide an informal opportunity for participants to share ideas on topics of mutual interest. This year, we have built a long Topic Table lunch into the agenda on both November 10th and November 11th. Those whose proposals didn’t make it onto the agenda, or who missed the window of opportunity to secure a spot in the Exhibit Hall (we are sold out!), or who have a special issue or service they would like to talk with others about, can host a Topic Table and attract others with a similar interest.
There really is no way to preview everything that will be happening at this conference, and there are a few surprises we don’t want to talk about in advance. So check the conference website at www.SRIconference.com periodically and keep abreast of the speakers, topics, and special events that are woven into the conference agenda.
What kind of encore are we planning for the next five, ten, twenty-five years…? The one thing we know for certain is that we will be back at The Broadmoor in early November 2015, and again, we will do our best to deliver an extraordinary conference experience for anyone who chooses to join us for the 26th annual SRI Conference. We continue to work to serve a higher purpose. We continue to pour our energy into proving the case for sustainable business and growing the SRI/ESG industry — assisting investors and investment professionals with directing the flow of investment capital to catalyze a shift to a truly sustainable future.
We will be delighted to see you at The Broadmoor, November 9-11, 2014. We hope you can join us to celebrate 25 years!
Article by George R. Gay, Chief Executive Officer of First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC and founder of The SRI Conference. And by Steve Schueth, President of First Affirmative, who has been involved with the conference only since 1992. First Affirmative ( www.firstaffirmative.com ) owns and produces The SRI Conference–on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing.
By Cece Derringer, Homewise
Director of Resource Development and Communications
A new survey published in May 2014 by the Global Impact Investing Network and J.P. Morgan offers clear evidence of the impressive growth of impact investing. The survey, the authors’ fourth annual report on the state of impact investing, queried leading fund managers, foundations, and development finance institutions in the United States and Europe, and found that the amount of capital they had committed to impact investing increased by 10 percent between 2012 and 2013, and the number of investments increased by 20 percent. The groups surveyed also reported that it committed $10.6 billion to impact investments in 2013 and intended to invest $12.7 billion in 2014 — an increase of 19 percent.
While the popularity of impact investing is reaching unprecedented heights, the practice itself is anything but new. Community investing has long been considered one of the three main strategies that form the foundation of socially responsible investing. What sets it apart from the other two strategies, social screening and shareholder advocacy, is that it offers a way for investors to make a tangible, even visible, difference in the communities where they invest. Indeed, community investing has the power to transform communities and the lives of the people who live in them.
Nevertheless, community investing has never been as widely practiced as social screening and shareholder advocacy. A variety of issues — including the limited number of investment options and a general lack of public awareness of the practice — have checked its growth.
But that is beginning to change. As impact investing is gaining new popularity, the menu of investment options is growing. Investors today can choose from a variety of market rate and below market rate impact investment options, including cash deposits in community development banks and credit unions, loans to community development loan funds, equity investments in small businesses, microenterprises, community projects, and innovative new products such as social impact bonds and Calvert Foundation Community Investment Notes.
One form of impact investing that is drawing the attention of social investors is Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CDFIs are specialized financial institutions dedicated to serving the underserved. There are four basic types — loan funds, banks, credit unions, and venture capital funds — but all four have the same basic mission of serving low-income communities that lack access to credit, capital, and financial services from mainstream financial institutions.
Like community investing itself, the CDFI industry in the United States has a low profile but very deep roots. In 1865, for example, the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company was established to serve recently emancipated African-Americans and eventually maintained 37 offices in 17 states. And in the first decades of the 20th century, other banks were established to serve a variety of minority communities, including members of the Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma, the Chinese community in San Francisco, and women in Cleveland, Ohio. These institutions were among the forerunners of what we now call community development banks.
The modern CDFI industry received a major boost in 1994, with the passage of the Reigle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act, which authorized the creation of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, a new federal agency dedicated to advancing the work of CDFIs.
Today, there are 884 federally certified CDFIs in the United States that serve their communities in a variety of ways. They provide loans to build small businesses and microenterprises, affordable housing, and social service organizations; they provide mortgages for low-income homebuyers and retail banking services for the unbanked; and they also provide credit counseling, homebuyer education, and business development services to enable their borrowers to use credit wisely.
What most CDFIs typically have not provided is a way for investors to invest in their work, but that, too, is beginning to change. One CDFI that offers its own investment program is Homewise, a nonprofit that focuses on affordable homeownership in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and introduced the Homewise Community Investment Fund in 2010.
Homewise is backed by decades of experience in community development. The organization was established in 1986 to finance home rehabilitation projects in Santa Fe’s poorer neighborhoods. As home prices in the city began to rise, however, Homewise saw that many of its customers were concerned that their children and grandchildren would never be able to buy homes in Santa Fe, so it added a home purchase program while continuing to expand its home improvement lending.
Since then, Homewise has grown to become a full service agency dedicated to promoting affordable homeownership in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico. Its work is rooted in the awareness that affordable housing not only enables individuals to achieve long-term financial security and build stronger families but also increases economic and social vitality in the community.
To those ends, Homewise offers a variety of services to bring homeownership within the reach of low- and middle-income income residents. Its programs include free homebuyer education workshops and one-on-one financial counseling to prepare prospective homeowners to buy a home, real estate services to help buyers find a high quality home that fits their needs and budget, and lending services that provide low-cost, fixed rate mortgages.
In addition, the organization continues to provide home improvement loans and mortgage refinance loans to help homeowners take care of the homes that are quite likely their most valuable financial assets. Homewise also builds homes in Santa Fe using green building practices for long-term affordability, durability, and comfort.
Those services have had a real impact in the community. Since its inception, Homewise has made more than $346 million in loans. In 2013 alone, the organization helped 249 families become homeowners and provided 62 home improvement loans and 72 mortgage refinance loans. On average, it also has provided free financial and homebuyer education to more than 500 individuals each year since 1995.
Homewise launched the Homewise Community Investment Fund to attract new and diverse sources of capital. The minimum investment in the Fund is $1,000, and the term can range from one to 15 years. The interest rate varies from zero to 4 percent depending on the terms the investor selects.
Homewise is using the new capital it attracts through the Fund to support its lending programs. So, in addition to offering investors a financial return, the Fund generates a social return that is measured in the number of Homewise borrowers with decreased debt and increased savings and credit scores, as well as an environmental return that is measured in the amount of energy saved through home improvement loans and the number of energy-efficient homes built.
That combination of financial, social, and environmental return clearly is something that appeals to the Fund’s investors. Andrew Spingler, the founder of the trial consulting firm The Focal Point LLC, is both an investor in the Fund and a longtime member of the Homewise board of directors. He is concerned about the growing wealth gap between the haves and have-nots in Santa Fe and beyond, and believes that Homewise is doing something very real and very effective to address the issue. “Homeownership is the number one path for folks to become financially stable and independent,” Spingler says. “In a community like Santa Fe, it’s really important for some organization to be all about that and we really are all about that. We have created a lot of financially stable people in this community.”
Still, while he was attracted by the Fund’s community impact, he also recognized that it was imperative to take a good look at the financial aspect of the investment before he invested. As a member of the board’s finance committee, he was in an excellent position to evaluate the organization’s fiscal stability as well as the quality of its staff, and when he did, he gave the Fund a thumbs-up. “It stands on its own as a great investment and then serves a much greater good,” he says.
The Santa Fe Community Foundation reached a similar conclusion. In August 2012, the Foundation launched a local impact investing initiative that over a seven-year period will commit at least 5 percent of the Foundation’s pooled assets to investments directly aligned with its mission. In February 2014, the Foundation announced its first investment under the initiative, allocating $250,000 to the Homewise Community Investment Fund.
According to Joohee Rand, the Foundation’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, the organization’s interest in impact investing has been driven by its desire to build its capacity and expand its philanthropy. She adds that there was an ethical dimension to the question of how the Foundation might best use the assets that it had sitting in financial markets. “In a state like New Mexico, where there are such limited resources, it made sense that we learn about impact investing,” Rand says. “I think it’s almost irresponsible not to at least think about what we might be able to do with the assets that we have.”
Rand emphasizes that impact investing requires a much higher level of due diligence than grant making does, because, as she says, with investments, “you have to get the money back.” But the Foundation had already established a strong relationship with Homewise and became even more comfortable with the idea of investing in the Fund after examining the organization’s financials and strong track record as a CDFI. “Affordable housing is definitely a key area of need that we have identified,” Rand says. “We saw Homewise not just as our first investment but as a real partner as we start this initiative.”
Even organizations that have never had a relationship with Homewise have been drawn to the Fund. The Sustainability Group, the Boston-based investment management firm founded by socially responsible investing pioneer Amy Domini, began offering the Fund in the summer of 2013 and currently has six clients invested in it, including four who have no connection to the Southwest.
According to Andrew McIntosh, who oversees approximately $40 million in impact investments as the Group’s head of high impact investments and proxy voting, the Group found Homewise’s story compelling and was especially attracted to its program to help immigrant families become successful homeowners (see Mayte Garcia’s story below). “The impact and success stories made the difference, along with the sound financials,” McIntosh says. “It speaks to what our clients are looking for in impact investing: investments that have the power to positively impact people and the planet, by providing access to capital which creates opportunity for change.”
A Borrowers Story
“I’m living a dream that I’ve had ever since I was a little girl.”
Mayte Garcia is a living example of the real impact that impact investing can deliver. Since she was six years old, Mayte had wanted to own a home. But when she first went to Homewise, she wasn’t a U.S. citizen, and she learned that there were no programs to help her become a homeowner.
But she didn’t give up, and when she returned to Homewise sometime later, her Home Purchase Advisor told her what she would need to do build her credit. Mayte worked diligently, and eventually was prequalified to purchase a home through the new Homewise Immigrant Lending Program, which helps immigrants with an Immigrant Tax Identification Number become homeowners.
The program is just one of many Homewise programs supported by capital invested in the Homewise Community Investment Fund, and for Mayte it made all the difference. “I couldn’t believe it, honestly,” she says. “Homewise opened the door for me to have the home of my dreams.”
Homewise Community Investment Fund
To date, the Homewise Community Investment Fund has attracted more than $2 million in investments, and it is clear that the Fund is providing significant benefits to its stakeholders. For Homewise, it is providing new capital and increasing public awareness of the organization’s work; for investors and financial advisors, it is offering a way to earn an acceptable financial return while generating positive impact in their community; and for the community itself, it is fostering responsible homeownership and building stronger and more stable neighborhoods.
To be sure, although impact investing is on the rise, very real challenges remain for those who wish to practice it. The number of investment options is still quite limited, and the potential risks can be significant. But one thing is certain: As impact investing grows, so will its impact. Investing in our own backyards can do great things for our communities.
For more information on Homewise go to www.homewise.org/invest-in-homewise/
Article by Cece Derringer. As the Director of Resource Development and Communications at Homewise since 2005, Cece has been an active public leader of her non-profit team with a commitment to social and economic justice and community development. She brings over 30 years’ experience in marketing and development in variety of media, non-profit and educational settings including ABC-TV. She has studied at the Fund Raising School at The Center on Philanthropy at IUPUI and recently completed an executive education program in Community Development at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government with an emphasis on impact investing.
Reference to Global Impact Investment Network and J.P. Morgan Survey:
Spotlight on the Market: Impact Investor Survey
Reference to Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company:
Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company
Reference to Cherokee, Chinese, and Women’s Banks:
Minority Banking Timeline – Partnership for Progress
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