In the past year, many major U.S. cities have reported significant progress in housing for their homeless.1 While homelessness has been on the decline nationally, the trend, unfortunately, does not hold true in several major cities. In Los Angeles, the number of homeless people increased by 12 percent in LA county and 16 percent in the city last year. According to the county’s Homeless Service Authority, they helped 21,631 people into permanent housing during 2018, yet economic conditions forced thousands more into homelessness due to economic forces and the interlocking systems of foster care, mental health, criminal justice, and the housing market.2Read More
Summertime is usually associated with warm weather, days at the pool – or the golf course – and vacation. For some of us at CCM, summer can mean travel, especially to conferences throughout the U.S. This week kicked off the summer conference season with the US SIF conference in Minneapolis and the Catholic Health Assembly in Dallas. CCM team members attended and networked with many of the attendees, including innovative influencers in the impact/ESG investing space.
Depending on the location of the conference – or in some cases, the destination of our team member’s travel – we ask our team to learn more about the stories behind our investments by conducting local on-site visits. We always enjoy seeing first-hand the properties or small businesses that our clients’ investments are financing and how they are helping to create positive impact. At many of our visits, we are able to meet with residents, employees and supportive staff, as well as receive a tour of the property and neighborhood.
Our team thoroughly enjoys visiting the properties as each visit gives us more insight into our direct impact on the community. We value the opportunity to meet the people behind each of our investments and share details of our visits with our investors in our Annual Impact Report.
Image: CCM's President & COO, Alyssa Greenspan visits a property in Minneapolis, MN
This summer we already have three scheduled on-site visits throughout the U.S. – one of them being our 2018 Annual CCM Impact Award Winner, the Hawthorne Eco Village Apartments in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To read more about three of our 2018’s on-site visits, our 2018 Annual Impact Report can be found here.
We look forward to reporting back on our upcoming on-site visits and happy summer!Read More
As a firm that prides itself on a client-centric culture, we always look to align the values-focused nature of our client base with our own practices. From inclusion in the hiring and promotion process to implementing programs that support work/life balance, the environment and our local communities, we like to practice what we preach.
As such, we recently went “ROWE” - Results Only Work Environment. ROWE is a human resource management strategy co-created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler where employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked.1
ROWE keeps it very simple. It promotes a culture of efficiency by focusing specifically on the work. This strategy puts the role of working directly into the employees’ hands, empowering their ability to contribute to the greater good, which builds passion and willingness to strive for greatness in the workplace. As a result, an employee’s performance becomes their responsibility, and therefore it promotes a drive to get things done well and expediently.2
The more we learned about ROWE, the more we felt it aligned with the rest of the values of our firm. Although we are still in early stages of implementation, it is off to a promising start. The program helps to enhance our culture by focusing on efficiency, results, and most importantly, helping our clients.
According to Morningstar, over $4.1 billion of assets flowed into U.S. sustainable open-end and exchange-traded funds during the first quarter of 2019 – far surpassing the previous quarterly record inflows of $1.9 billion and on track to exceed 2018’s record-breaking net inflow of approximately $5.5 billion.1
These strengthening inflows continue to prove the trend toward investors looking to do well and do good by investing responsibly and sustainable. Last year marked the third straight year of record annual net flows to U.S. sustainable funds – despite the rest of the U.S. funds lowest overall asset flow since 2008.2 The first quarter number is proof that more managers and investors are adding sustainable investments to their portfolios and are recognizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors as drivers of value.
Like the rest of the industry, we saw one of our highest inflows at CCM in the first quarter of 2019. We are not surprised to see these numbers given the increase and demand for impact/ESG investments. We look forward to seeing this number continue to increase as more and more investors see integrating ESG factors in their investment process and portfolios is critical to investing effectively.
We wish you all a happy Memorial Day weekend.
Nearly 800,000 volunteers partnered with the Ocean Conservatory in 2017 to remove more than 20 million pieces of trash from beaches and waterways throughout the world.1 This may seem like a lot, however the amount of marine debris, specifically the concentration of plastic pollution, is growing at alarming rates.
According to the United Nations, at least 800 species globally are affected by marine debris, and as much as 80 percent of that litter is plastic. In the case of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, the accumulation of microplastics is 4-16 times greater than previously thought. Ninety percent of seabirds have traces of plastic trash in their systems and scientists have found microplastics in 114 aquatic species, with more than half of those animals ending up on our dinner plates. And with over 300 million tons of plastics produced every year, it does not look to be slowing down.2
One culprit of the microplastic debris found in the ocean is plastic straws. Due to the size of straws, recycling machines cannot break them into smaller pieces. Hence, they have made their way to the deepest trenches of our oceans and animals are ingesting, choking, and/or starving as a result. These tiny pieces of plastic are adding up and are packing a powerful punch on the environment.
There has been action to try to reverse these staggering effects of our plastic straw intake. In 2018, Starbucks announced that they will eliminate plastic straws by 2020.3 Although met with mixed reviews, it helped bring awareness to the issue. Our Last Straw is a coalition of restaurants, bars, cafes, hotels, event venues, and organizations on a mission: eliminate single-use plastic straws. With well over 40 partners, including some large restaurant chains, they are gaining steam.4 It is organizations like these that are helping to spread awareness and take action that will hopefully help to reverse the damage we have made and set new best practices in these industries.
At CCM, we look to practice what we have preach and thus have stopped using plastic straws in our offices and recently purchased our latest conference give away – a portable stainless steel straw set.
Throughout the year, many of our impact/ESG partners release various reports discussing and evaluating sustainable and responsible investing. These reports contain statistics, introduce new products, and help to relieve some stigmas associated with the industry.
Our friends at the US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment released a report last week covering the basics of sustainable investing and providing a roadmap for asset owners to include ESG investments in their current accounts. The report, “Moving Forward with Sustainable Investing: A Roadmap For Asset Owners” is the third, and last, of three roadmaps and provides sample investment policy statements and various impact/ESG guidelines and resources to help an investor understand how to implement the alignment of their values with their investment assets.1
Lisa Woll, the CEO of US SIF, stated, "While institutional asset owners vary widely in organizational purpose and structure, they are uniquely positioned to shift the investment industry toward sustainability”. Ms. Woll went on to say, “By considering ESG factors in portfolio selection and shareholder engagement, asset owners can help ensure that their investments support—not contradict—their values or missions. Sustainable investing strategies can also help institutions and their asset managers minimize risk and improve returns over the long term."2
These types of reports help increase industry awareness, spread demand for value alignment, and educate investors. We will continue to update you on new reports in impact/ESG investing as they are disseminated and always welcome ideas for content for white papers and reports we produce at CCM.
To download a full report of the US SIF Foundation’s “Moving Forward with Sustainable Investing: A Roadmap For Asset Owners”, click here. Don’t wait, help spread the impact/ESG word.
With graduation season upon us, many of us become nostalgic about our college days – taking new classes, meeting friends from around the globe, and learning skills that will hopefully come in handy in the next chapter of our lives. Our alma maters typically hold a special place in our hearts and the connection doesn’t end when we leave campus.
At CCM, our employees continuously look to give back to their alma maters in more ways than one. Earlier this week, University of Michigan alum and CCM’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jamie Horwitz, attended a luncheon hosted by the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, Michigan Medicine.1 It’s mission is to improve the lives of individuals with food allergies by conducting comprehensive food allergy research that will significantly improve patient care and expand food allergy education, research and community services.
CCM’s CIO and Penn State alum, Andy Kaufman, recently joined the Penn State Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board.2 Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board members lend their experience and expertise to the Smeal Sustainability Council and serve as conduits to the latest corporate developments in sustainable business practices. The Board assists in guiding Smeal’s sustainability agenda by helping to match the college’s strengths with the sustainability issues that the board members encounter as they lead their corporations’ sustainability efforts.
Alyssa Greenspan, CCM’s president and COO and Tulane alum, participates in Tulane Takeover Miami. Tulane Takeover is a partnership between the Tulane Career Wave Initiative and the Academic Schools at the university. The purpose of these events is to provide meaningful, career networking experiences for current students in cities where there is significant student interest. The goal is to create as many positive connections for students so they make informed and well-thought out career decisions and plan for their future after they “Wave Goodbye” to their alma mater.3 She additionally donates her time and resources to support Tulane and its many initiatives locally in south Florida and in New Orleans.
CCM’s Chief Investment Strategist, Kristin Fafard, is also passionate about helping her alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Kristin is a steering committee member for Women for UMASS Amherst, raising funds for student-led initiatives that not only develop students’ leadership skills, but also fulfill unique on-campus and local community needs.
Senior Client Portfolio Manager Andy Shafter recently served as co-chair of his 25th and 30th reunion at Hobart College, helping to increase attendance and fundraise for the school. He is also involved with his graduate alma mater where he participates in and supports events of the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Boston Regional Board. Volunteers help increase Leadership Circle membership and raise critical funds for the University.4
Our sales and marketing specialist, Barb Seaman, serves on the University of Pennsylvania Lacrosse Sports Board. The board meets four times a year to discuss the current state of the program and its members volunteer their resources by focusing on four key areas: student-athlete mentoring, development and alumni relations, events, and young alumni engagement.5 Barb represents the women’s team in facilitating all four categories. The women’s lacrosse team is a very successful Division 1 program and seeks to give female athletes better success both on and off the field.
While our college days may be over, the connection and bonds we hold with our schools is long-lasting. All of us at CCM look to continue our involvement and commitment to our alma maters in more ways than one – whether through alumni clubs, volunteering, hiring students for internships and full-time positions, and giving what we can. #goblue #greenwave #nittanylions #wildcats #pennpride #gostatesmen
Earth Day took place this past Monday, an annual event celebrated on April 22, focused on environmental protection. Starting in 1970, this annual tradition was founded by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums in massive coast-to-coast rallies demonstrating for a healthy, sustainable environment.
It was not until 1990 that Earth Day increased its global presence by mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and thereby lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. This global movement also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995— the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.
Today, Earth Day is an annual global event with an estimated one billion people in over 190 countries taking part in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world. Perusing around social media on Monday under “#earthday” and “#earthday2019”, there were countless tweets and pictures of organizations highlighting their commitment to the environment – whether through creating or using more sustainable products toallowing their employees to participate in an environmentally-friendly activity.
Our favorite hashtag we came across was “#earthdayeveryday”. A few years ago, we invested in a bond helping to finance a small businesscalled goddess garden organics. They wrote a blog on this very topic saying that “Every day we get to spend on this earth, we get to enjoy it and all it has to offer. And every day we should set aside a few minutes to look around and notice the beauty around us. The trees, the grass, the birds — even the fact that this earth keeps spinning — is a reason to pause and be appreciative for a moment.”
So as another Earth Day passes, we will look to take a few minutes each day to look around and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. We are grateful for an official day to appreciate our planet and will also remember #earthdayeveryday the remaining 364 days. We hope you do too.Read More
I recently had the very good fortune of visiting Italy with my family during my kid’s spring break. I had been to Italy once before – about 15 years ago – but this time was different for two main reasons. The first reason is that I was going to see Italy through my daughters’ eyes. They are nine and twelve – great ages for travel, and even more importantly, great ages to understand and learn about another culture, cuisine, and language. The second reason is that on this trip to Italy, specifically my visit to the Vatican, I had a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Catholic religion given my experiences working at CCM over the last 14 years, where we have many Catholic clients who invest in our impact investing strategies and where I attend many Catholic conferences – speaking with and learning from the women religious and clergy.Read More