What is BIPOC and How Can Impact Investments Positively Support BIPOC Communities

September 2021 | Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

In the last few years, a new acronym has surfaced: BIPOC. BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.  According to Google Trends, the use of the acronym began to spike in May 2020, coinciding with the growing Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. [1] The BIPOC Project uses the term to highlight the unique relationship to whiteness that Indigenous and Black (African Americans) people have, which shapes the experiences of and relationship to white supremacy for all people of color within a U.S. context.

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, believes the term provides a foundation of unity. “Many of our communities have a common foundation of civil rights challenges,” she said. “While we do have strength in our individual identities, as Native people, as Black people, we also have within our communities a unity of our citizenry. Some of our citizens face challenges, both as an Indigenous person and as a Black person and that intersection of challenges, presents a unique position.” [2]

On the flip side, many linguists argue that there is no “one size fits all” language when it comes to race. The question always becomes, when do we use the phrase “people of color”; when do we say “BIPOC”; and when do we say “Black”? Some debate that the term can blur the differences between the groups it is meant to unite. [3]

Clearly this is a lot of discussion on this topic and much like impact investing, there are varying definitions and terminology. The bottom line for us is not whether the language is right or wrong but rather how we – and our clients – can put capital to work to positively impact and advance BIPOC and all underserved communities. Our customization process enables investors to target investments advancing any and all races. Focusing specifically on BIPOC, one example is a bond financing an affordable housing program where one of the properties works with the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) to serve over 2,300 individuals from over 380 tribes each year. Another is a bond issued by LISC whose proceeds are supporting its Project 10X, a $1 billion LISC initiative through which it is investing in building equity and wealth for BIPOC.

Other investments benefiting BIPOC include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) like Native American Bank. Their mission is to assist Native American and Alaskan Native individuals, enterprises, and governments to reach their goals by providing affordable and flexible banking and financial services. [4] For those interested, another great resource is from CNote (in partnership with the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs) who created a publicly available list of Black-led CDFIs with the hopes of mobilizing more equitable capital for marginalized groups across the U.S. [5] The list is available here. These are just a few examples of ways to invest for positive impact in BIPOC communities. We encourage interested investors supporting BIPOC to speak with their advisors and consultants about other products available across asset classes.


[2] Ibid




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