Brooklyn Foundation Divests from Industries that Disproportionately Harm Communities of Color

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Payday Loan Place Window Graphics / Taber Andrew Bain

November 2, 2016; BK Reader

The BK Reader has reported that the Brooklyn Community Foundation board voted in September to immediately divest from all industries that do not promote racial equity or that disproportionately harm communities of color. These industries include private prisons, gun manufacturers, and predatory lenders—all of which, according to Cecilia Clarke, president and CEO of Brooklyn Community Foundation, have harmed communities of color and low-income communities in Brooklyn.

“Racial equity is core to our vision of a fair and just Brooklyn,” said Clarke. “This decision is critical to the Foundation’s ability to fully pursue its mission, and it will hopefully serve as a call to other institutions to do the same.”

Brooklyn Community Foundation Board Chairman Alan Fishman explained that the change will be made to be consistent with the foundation’s mission. The foundation selected an explicit racial justice lens in 2014 as the result of a community-wide engagement project. “Our Board has a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the financial resiliency of the Foundation, but we also have a responsibility to embody the values of Brooklyn’s communities.”

The Brooklyn Community Foundation had around $64 million in assets as of 2014. The foundation does not expect this commitment to ethical divestiture to have a negative impact on its portfolio performance.—Ruth McCambridge