The Bush Foundation is a grantmaking organization, and we seek to have the most positive impact with the resources we grant to the communities we serve. We also know that we have impact on the world in a lot of other ways. All of our actions have consequences – good and bad, intentional and unintentional. We try as an organization to be conscious of minimizing harm and creating good in all our operations.
After our grantmaking, one of the most significant ways we are having impact in the world is through the investment of the dollars entrusted to us by Archibald and Edyth Bush, which we refer to as our endowment assets. We invest those endowment assets with the objective of growing our assets over time to stay ahead of inflation and to ensure we can continue to be a resource to the communities we serve. We entrust our money to fund managers and other partners who make the decisions about which companies and institutions ultimately receive our investment. Those decisions are critical to building equitable, thriving communities and businesses that create jobs, build wealth and support economic vitality for all community members.
We have two intentional objectives we consider as our commitment to investing for impact:
Advancing equity in capital markets
We believe people of all backgrounds and identities have great ideas and the talent to make those ideas happen. The reality is that the entrepreneurial ideas and early-stage companies that receive most of the available capital are led by white men (90%+ by many measures). We understand the fact that capital is not more proportionately allocated across gender and race/ethnicity is the result of a number of complicated and interconnected dynamics. We know that some groups of people in our country have faced discriminatory policies and beliefs that have greatly reduced opportunities to pursue their ideas and make the most of their talents. For example, because many company founders rely on investment from friends and family, some entrepreneurs are limited by community inequalities that tie back to policies from decades ago. This historic discrimination is compounded by bias today. For a variety of reasons, the individuals who control and direct large amounts of investment capital do not reflect the demographics of our country as a whole. There is a vast amount of psychological research about bias and our tendencies to trust people like ourselves which has significant consequence in an industry lacking diverse representation.
We believe our actions as an investor can help ensure people of all backgrounds and identities have access to capital to make their great ideas happen. As an investor in markets and communities, we directly influence when and where financial resources are allocated, and to whom. We believe there is an opportunity and a responsibility to invest a portion of our capital in support of entrepreneurs and communities that have been overlooked or underestimated by traditional investors.
Supporting business and community development in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations we serve.
We believe that supporting business growth and community development in our region is a way for us to strengthen local economies. Our Foundation exists because of the growth of 3M from a small business in Two Harbors, MN, to one of the largest corporations in the world. We know that small- and medium-sized businesses of all types can be engines of economic growth and community wealth-building. We believe that taking on more risk when considering investments that positively impact our region can pay significant returns in our overall Foundation impact.
We believe that preserving and creating strong businesses, and supporting economic development, are important parts of building strong communities. We use our grantmaking to address many types of issues within our region. We see our investments as a way to complement that grantmaking and to preserve and create jobs and build wealth in our region. For communities to be strong and stable, people need reliable jobs with livable wages and access to affordable housing and financial tools. To build wealth, people need the opportunity to create and grow businesses, have access to credit and other forms of investment and create pathways to homeownership. Supporting business growth and community development are important strategies for advancing our purpose of making the region better for everyone. The potential for impact is even greater when the business growth and wealth creation occurs in communities that have historically been underinvested in or underserved — particularly Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.
How we are accountable to our objectives
We have worked hard to articulate how progress against our two impact investing objectives should be measured. We also recognize that these objectives are complex and are influenced by many different variables. We will continue to evaluate our progress and revisit and adjust our approaches accordingly. Today, we hold ourselves accountable in the following ways:
- We seek investment managers that specifically focus on investing in BIPOC and women-led companies and projects, particularly those that support economic opportunity and wealth creation in BIPOC communities through credit building, affordable housing creation and preservation, homeownership, small business and technology startup financing, and community real estate. In pursuit of these goals, we are willing to consider investments with a shorter performance track record or that are higher risk than what is typical in our broader portfolio.
- We are looking for investments that provide capital to companies headquartered in or with significant operations in our region and/or that directly support economic opportunity and wealth creation in our region. We also are willing to consider investments with shorter performance track records or that are higher risk than what is typical in our broader portfolio.
- We ask all of our current and potential venture fund managers how they are working to source business plans and ideas from entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.
- We talk with every current and potential investment manager about their policies and practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and how they are improving their own abilities to work beyond their biases. We ask about their hiring and talent development practices and expect that all our fund managers are making earnest efforts to adapt their practices and develop new relationships and pipelines to ensure they build diverse teams of investment professionals.
- We partner with local institutions for banking services related to our investments whenever possible.
- Within our Program-Related Investments (PRIs), we often take a blended capital approach, frequently combining below market-rate capital with philanthropic grants. We make these complementary grants to inspire, equip and connect people, and advance equitable access to capital within our region.
- We measure our progress against each of these listed practices with a set of defined criteria.
An emerging impact investing consideration.
We believe that climate change is an issue of critical importance with enormous social and economic consequence within the region we serve and across the globe. We also believe that our actions as an investor can support innovation and encourage changes in business practices to mitigate the impact of climate change. In support of these beliefs, we have begun the process of defining what a climate/sustainability investment priority would look like for us, and how we would measure future progress.
If you have an investment opportunity you think would be a good fit with our impact investing objectives, please reach out to our investments team at firstname.lastname@example.org.