Blog written by: Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Programs and Initiatives Director
This May, Baltimore hosted the Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) 2016 Conference Seizing the Momentum, a call to action for the impact investing community to take advantage of the latest investment opportunities and innovations that can help tackle society's most intractable problems.
I was pleased to serve on the local advisory committee and helped plan one of the learning tours of amazing work going on in our city. I also attended one of the morning plenaries, The Anchor Institution’s Role in Community Impact, which has stuck with me through the last several months. ABAG member and MIE board member Tracy Kartye of the Annie E. Casey Foundation introduced special guest, Derick Ebert, Baltimore’s First Youth Poet Laureate. Hopefully, you recall that Derick recited one of his powerful poems at ABAG’s 2016 Annual Meeting. At the MIE conference, he delivered a similarly powerful poem, which, in light of the recent protests by NFL players during the paying of the national anthem, is particularly insightful.
Derick was followed by Patrick McCarthy, President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose opening remarks powerfully connected past disinvestment with a call to take a different path.
Dr. McCarthy states that, “Baltimore is the perfect backdrop for a conference on mission investing because Baltimore represents so clearly the consequences of a long history failing to invest in our communities, in our people, and in our children. In fact, Baltimore’s challenges are the direct result of decades and decades of deliberate, conscience policies and practices, both public and private, to ensure that whole swaths of our population were left out, kept out, and shut out from opportunity and a chance for a decent life. Our City, and many American cities, share a history of pernicious and persistent disinvestment firmly rooted in the worst racism and race-based segregation in our nation’s regrettable history.”
He continues to talk about systemic policies and practices of 100 years ago that drove racial segregation and disinvestment, building a foundation for the “collect impact result” of segregating and subjugating African-Americans in our city and other cities across the county. He also describes the disinvestments, failed systems, and tragic events that led to the arrest and death of Freddie Grey as an example of “negative impact investing” over decades.
Dr. McCarthy goes on to say that this negative illustration also points to a path of investment opportunity that is very different, exemplified in the panel represented there: anchor institutions that drive economic activity and build strong neighborhoods. Panelists include Ben Hecht of Living Cities, Dr. Maria Thompson of Coppin State University, Dr. Jay Perman of University of Maryland Baltimore and Dr. Sammy Hoi, Maryland Institute College of Art.
I encourage you to listen to Derick’s poem, Patrick’s full remarks and the subsequent plenary here.
You can click here to read Derick Ebert's poem - Unanswered.