January 29, 2002
One Percent Community Investing Campaign Gains Momentum
by Mark Thomsen
MMA Praxis places 1 percent of its assets in community investments, indicating continued overall
growth of community investing.
In 2001, the Social Investment Forum launched a 5-year campaign to move more than $10 billion in
socially responsible investment assets into low-income communities. This "1% in Community" campaign recently scored a
victory with the announcement that MMA Praxis Mutual Funds had broken the one percent level of
assets allocated to community investments. MMA Praxis is the first church-owned mutual fund family
to reach that benchmark.
"MMA Praxis is delighted to have reached the 1 percent
level," said Howard L. Brenneman, MMA president and chair of MMA Praxis. "Our shareholders can now
be involved in helping these communities in the U.S. and around the globe meet their own goals,
including affordable housing, a more stable local economy of small businesses, a healthier
environment, or neighborhood revitalization."
The 1% in Community campaign is being
implemented through a joint partnership between the Social Investment Forum and Co-op America. The
Social Investment Forum is a U.S. nonprofit trade association that promotes all aspects of socially
responsible investing. Co-op America is a national nonprofit that provides resources to businesses
and individuals to help them address social and environmental issues.
has been very effective in assisting economically disadvantaged people that are underserved by
traditional financial institutions. Local organizations in urban and rural areas use community
investment capital to create affordable housing and jobs, provide financial services to low-income
individuals, fund small businesses, and develop vital services as childcare. Investors can reach
these organizations through the hundreds of community development banks, credit unions, loan funds
and venture capital organizations that exist across the U.S.
Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA),
the church-affiliated parent of MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, solidified its commitment to community
investing in 2000 with the launch of its MMA Community Development Investments program. Through
that program, MMA has devoted approximately $6 million to such community development financial
institutions as the Illinois Facilities Fund. The Illinois Facilities Fund is a state-wide,
nonprofit corporation providing real estate loans, facilities planning and facilities development
to human service and community development nonprofits in Illinois.
A number of mutual
funds and mutual fund families have already reached the 1 percent level in community investing.
They include Domini Social Investments, Calvert Group, Parnassus Investments, the New Alternatives
Fund, Portfolio 21, and Aquinas Funds. Institutional investors that have achieved the same
percentage of assets allocated to community investing include the Tides Foundation as well as the
pension boards of both the Evangelical Lutheran and United Methodist Churches.
to the Social Investment Forum's 2001 Report on Socially Responsible Investing Trends in the United
States, community investing is now the fastest growing category of socially responsible investing
in the U.S. Through data gathered from community development trade organizations and
intermediaries, the Forum estimated that assets flowing into community investing organizations grew
from $5.4 billion to $7.6 billion between 1999 and 2001.