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Not As Diverse As They Should Be

March 13, 2018

The following article is from impactalpha

With new pledge, Nathan Cummings Foundation moves to align endowment with mission. This is no time for business as usual, Sharon Alpert, president of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, made clear in a note last year, when it boosted its grant-making to challenge xenophobia, racism and attacks on democratic institutions and the legitimacy of the press. Now, the 70-year-old foundation is taking another business-not-usual step—for philanthropy—by pledging to align its entire $443 million endowment with its mission, including fighting climate change and income inequality.

Cummings is one of the largest foundations yet to commit itself—over time—to 100% mission-alignment and to break down philanthropy's historical divide between the investment side of the house, which was charged with making money, and the program side, which was responsible for giving it away. "The problems we work on are market problems that need market solutions," Alpert told ImpactAlpha in an interview. "We need capital markets to change to drive sustainable inclusive growth. We need the markets to produce an economy that leads to equality."

#Dealflow: Follow the Money

Northstar Foundation invests in women, health and arts via Du'Anyam. Indonesia-based Du'Anyam is a handicraft retailer that works with wicker weavers, specifically pregnant women in poor farming communities. It helps the women sell their baskets, boosting their incomes and making it possible for them to avoid strenuous agricultural labor while pregnant, which can endanger their health. Du'Anyam also provides education on nutrition and financial literacy and works with local midwives on care access. The company started in 2014 out of the MIT Global Poverty Initiative. It works with 450 weavers in 17 villages supplying their crafts to corporations, hotels and shops. The foundation, run by private equity company Northstar Group, did not disclose the size of its investment.

ECMC Foundation rolls out education PRI fund, backing two funds. The fund, called Education Innovation Ventures, invests in startups that aim to help underserved students increase their skills and get better jobs. It has made a $1 million investment in Employment Technology Fund, which invests in early stage startups working to help underemployed Americans. It is also backing the Venn Foundation, a Minneapolis-based donor advised fund manager. Peter Taylor, president of ECMC Foundation, said he launched a PRI fund because he wanted to do more to tackle education and skills gaps. "While grants play an important role in addressing problems in higher education, they aren't enough," he said. "In theory, the financial returns from PRIs could be recycled in perpetuity." ECMC Foundation has assets of $640 million.

Wellthy Therapeutics raises $2.1 million for chronic disease care. The Mumbai-based digital health startup has developed a smartphone app to help patients learn about and manage chronic diseases, including diabetes. Early results from its diabetes pilot have reportedly shown that a majority of patients using the app are able to better regulate their blood sugar levels. Chronic diseases like diabetes are responsible for the highest number of deaths in India and are the biggest cost burden on the country's healthcare system. The company raised a seed round from family office Manipal Education and Medical Group, Beenext Ventures, GrowX Ventures, Currae Healthcare and several individuals.

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