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At Locus (formerly Virginia Community Capital Social Enterprises), we believe that being a community-driven organization comes with a responsibility to contribute expertise and experience to the greater cause. Sometimes we call it “field building” or “thought leadership,” but regardless of the label, the goal is the same. We want to share and learn about ideas and practices that are having an impact, and we want to elevate the aspirations and advancements that will get all of us further down the road toward equity.

You’ll frequently find members from across the Locus team at community and economic development events large and small. Every engagement translates to hours spent on the train and preparing slide decks, but it’s always time well-spent. Each panel, conference, or webinar represents an opportunity to learn something from you, our partners.

Here are some of the highlights from 2022:

  • Locus Learning Exchange series: More Than a Moment
    • A Collective Voice: The Community Development Finance Movement: Locus and our guest panelists discussed the past, present, and future of community development financial institutions. Watch here.
    • Driving More Capital to Communities: New Roles for Philanthropy and their Ecosystem Partners: We convened a panel of experts to explore the evolving role of philanthropy in advancing a new, collaborative approach to impact investing that places equity at its center. Watch here.
    • Centering Equity in Climate Finance: In our third event in the 2022 series, we invited a panel of climate finance partners to talk about some of the current initiatives to ensure an equitable approach to climate finance and where the opportunity to do more exists. Watch here.
    • Learning Exchange Capstone Event: More Than a Moment: In December 2022, Locus convened clients and partners at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA, for the final event in the year’s Learning Exchange series, More Than a Moment. During the gathering, we explored the meaning of centering equity in community development and the partnerships that help us get there. Our keynote speaker was Amber Kuchar-Bell, Chief Strategy & Operations Officer at Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). The event also featured a conversation between Richmond community advocate Todd B. Waldo and Locus President & CEO Amir Kirkwood. Watch here.
  • Community Philanthropy Investor Circle: Community foundations have been making local impact investments for decades, but a shared practice only recently began to emerge. In 2022, Locus continued its Community Philanthropy Investor Circle convenings, which bring together community foundation local impact investors to network, share stories, and strengthen local impact investing practices for the community foundation field. After each Circle conversation, the Locus Local Investment Strategy team develops briefs to summarize key takeaways and contribute to the local impact investing field.
  • 2022 Opportunity Finance Network Conference – New York, NY
    • The Existential Threat of Climate Change to Business and Mission—and the Promise of Resilience: Locus President and CEO Amir Kirkwood participated in this panel discussion about how CDFIs are affected by the disproportionate impact climate change has on communities of color, Native communities, and those that are under-resourced. The panel explored how normalizing resilience can help CDFIs sustain their operations and achieve lasting impact. Check out the conference recap here.
  • Mission Investors Exchange Conference (Review the conference recap here.)
    • Investing with an Environmental Justice Lens: Marginalized communities often bear the burden of climate change, including increased health issues, displacement, inadequate environmental protection, and pollution. This session showcased investments and investors at the forefront of environmental justice and how they are achieving equitable outcomes for their beneficiaries. Panelists included Jim Baek, SVP and Executive Director, Community Investment Guarantee Pool.
    • Exploring Impact Investing Strategies in Rural Communities: Rural communities are often overlooked, resulting in missed investment opportunities to address inequities and advance local economic growth. This session showcases successful rural impact investing strategies, explores the challenges of approaching rural communities with an urban investment lens, and offers tips on how investors can build authentic relationships and connect to deal flow. Speaker Deb Markley, SVP, Locus, encouraged participants and the audience to embrace a place-based approach to rural development.
  • Economic Opportunity Coalition Working Session: Locus President & CEO Amir Kirkwood joined a panel that included partners from Google, Appalachian Community Capital, Bank of America, OFN, Citi, and U.S. Treasury to explore exciting opportunities and commitments to support minority depository institutions (MDIs) and CDFIs. Hosted at the White House, the event highlighted two EOC initiatives: 1) $500M+ in MDI deposits from EOC corporations and 2) the launch of a Center of Excellence for MDIs and CDFIs, which will offer technology, data, and hands on support to MDIs and CDFIs.
  • Noon Knowledge: Since 2014, Locus Community Innovation Advisor Sandy Ratliff has co-presented Noon Knowledge, a professional development series, alongside the Virginia Highlands Small Business Incubator, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, and the Town of Abingdon. These webinars are designed for entrepreneurs and professionals interested in building skills ranging from marketing and business planning to technology and financial skills. All webinars are archived here.
  • Commitment to Shared Prosperity: Locus President and CEO Amir Kirkwood attended this event at Howard University, which brought together Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella C. Guzman to announce $4.7 billion over five years in collective efforts to support underrepresented communities and Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) in the Capital Region. Vice President Harris, who has led in the White House on helping small businesses in underserved communities, delivered remarks and shared new ways that the Biden-Harris Administration is helping small businesses access capital.
  • District Dialogues: Addressing the Wealth Gap: This event, hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, explored the Black-white wealth gap and the role of policy, including educators, school administrators, state and local policymakers, workforce development professionals, and community and business leaders. Amir Kirkwood joined a panel and discussed Black-white wealth disparities and their consequences for the economy. Watch here.
  • Impact Investing 101 – A Unique Opportunity for Community Foundations: This session was presented by Virginia Funders Network and is geared for community foundations. Unlike private foundations, community foundations have more leeway to implement on this practice and achieve greater impact in our local communities. Learn the basic principles of impact investing and talk about the unique opportunities that exist for community foundations to engage in this effort. Locus Local Investment Strategy consultants Lisa O’Mara and Travis Green joined the conversation, which you can watch here.
  • 2022 Main Street Now Conference
    • Thriving Downtowns in Rural America – Lessons from Appalachia: Locus SVP Deb Markley led this session that highlighted one of eight case studies from Thriving Downtowns: An Investment Playbook for Rural Appalachia to illustrate key principles for downtown revitalization and to inspire action and investment back home. The Playbook was commissioned by the Appalachia Funders Network and the Central Appalachian Network in 2021.
    • How to Unlock Inclusive and Innovative Capital through CDFIs: Locus Economic Equity Small Business Loan Officer Chandra Hurst joined Jasper Jones from the North Carolina Rural Center to talk about the history of CDFIs and their role as vital community partners. They discussed the CDFI response to the pandemic and how CDFI coalitions are providing a powerful voice in the advocacy of innovative community development solutions.

Want to share the next big idea together? Reach out us about opportunities to convene with our peers to explore new ways to advance our shared mission.