Mercy Partnership Fund: A Legacy of Impact Investing
December 08, 2017
Autumn is the season in which Americans and especially Catholics reflect on ways we can extend ourselves and our resources to assist individuals in communities that have less than we do. As director of the Mercy Partnership Fund, I am especially mindful of the work I do with my own colleagues and also with my comrades across denominational lines in the Jubilee Assembly.
Since the 1970s, the Sisters of Mercy have invested in organizations working in the spirit of their founder, Catherine McAuley, who had a deep commitment to the underserved, namely women and children. In 1995, these low-interest community investments were formalized in Mercy Partnership Fund, which continues today under Mercy Investment Services, the socially responsible investment program for the Sisters of Mercy and their ministries.
Sisters of Mercy have been pioneers in the community investing field, often as the first or an early investor in mission-driven organizations.
Just as Catherine McAuley was a pioneer in the 1800s as she walked the streets of Dublin, Ireland to help those most in need, the Sisters of Mercy have been pioneers in the community investing field, often as the first or an early investor in mission-driven organizations. Many times, this initial support from Mercy has encouraged other investors to do the same. Some of the organizations in which Mercy Partnership Fund was an early investor include:
Global Partnerships, a nonprofit social investor that invests in and develops sustainable solutions to help impoverished people in Latin America and the Caribbean earn a living and improve their lives through microcredit, basic health care, business education, technical assistance for farmers, and green technology.
New Hampshire Community Loan Fund (NHCLF), a community development financial institution known for its work with resident-owned manufactured housing communities. In 1984, the Sisters of Mercy made the first loan to NHCLF to help 13 families create the United States' first resident-owned manufactured housing community and purchase the land on which their homes stood.
Solar and Energy Loan Fund, a Florida-based organization that helps homeowners make energy-efficient improvements to their homes. Mercy Partnership Fund was the first non governmental investor.
Texas Community Capital, a non-profit lending intermediary whose community loan center program offers small-dollar loans in financially underserved areas of Texas as an alternative to high-interest, predatory payday loans.
Mercy Partnership Fund's rich legacy of community investing to provide seed capital that will yield harvests of material plenty over time continues to flourish, with community investments in organizations that span 50 U.S. states and 32 countries. We recently supported Calvert Impact Capital's gender equity work through an investment in their Community Investment Note. Calvert is directing resources to increase clean energy access for women around the world. Through collaborations with organizations such as Calvert Impact Capital and our participation in the Jubilee Assembly, Mercy is able to amplify the impact of our financial resources and help support systemic change to people around the globe. We invite you to learn more about Mercy Partnership Fund and Mercy Investment Services at www.mercyinvestmentservices.org.
About the author: Sarah B. Smith joined Mercy Investment Services as director of Mercy Partnership Fund in 2014. Sarah has extensive experience in community and neighborhood development, and affordable housing, as well as with public-private partnerships aimed at enhancing the economic opportunity and quality of life for low- and moderate-income communities.