Mission Related Investing

Using the “95%” for Social Good

The Olmstead Green housing development, a project of the Home Funders Collaborative

For the past 25 years, the Hyams Foundation has been using its endowment to invest directly in solutions to social problems, consistent with its programmatic goals and priorities.

Program Related Investments

The primary way that Hyams has used its assets for charitable purposes has been by making Program Related Investments. The Foundation’s very first PRI was in 1985 to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  It was used to purchase loans made by Boston LISC for the redevelopment of key commercial and housing sites in order to address disinvestment in several local low-income neighborhoods. This initial PRI led to LISC’s creation of a national secondary market for community development loans, thereby freeing up resources for new lending.

Over the years, Hyams has made additional PRI loans to support the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing. It has used PRIs to address specific housing needs such as the serious lack of housing affordable to homeless and other extremely low-income families and the threat of even greater disinvestment caused by foreclosed properties in specific neighborhoods. The Foundation continues to seek ways to use PRIs for loans, loan guarantees and direct investments that would augment its major programmatic goals.

Mission Related Investments

The Foundation defines Mission Related Investments as those that: 1) produce a market rate of return, while also achieving a charitable goal consistent with its mission, or 2) are mission-driven activities related to its market rate investing.

  • Direct Market Rate Investments – To date these have included a $5 million investment in Community Capital Management as a more targeted housing-related bond investment and the selection of Boston Private Bank to handle the Foundation’s cash based on the bank’s positive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) ranking, local affordable housing investments and services to nonprofits.
  • Shareholder Engagement – The Foundation is committed to voting its proxies in accordance with socially responsible investment or SRI guidelines.  We also have voted on corporate board diversity using the Foundation’s own guidelines and consistent with an overall commitment to diversity and inclusion.  Hyams has taken steps to become more involved in shareholder proposals and dialogues in areas that are consistent with the Foundation’s mission such as corporate board diversity; equal employment opportunity and related employment practices; mortgage lending practices; and corporate political contributions.  It currently carries out this focus through an investment in Boston Common Asset Management.
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Business Practices –The Foundation strongly believes in supporting investment firms that are either owned and/or lead by women or people of color.