OSI Announces Baltimore Venture Fund

OSI Announces Baltimore Venture Fund

Press conference:
When: 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Where: Open Society Institute-Baltimore
201 North Charles Street, Suite 1300

BALTIMORE—A $15-million venture capital fund to create new jobs for low- and moderate-income workers in Baltimore will be announced at a press conference on July 16 at 11:00 a.m. at the Open Society Institute offices in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Fund, partially financed by George Soros' Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and supported by local philanthropic foundations and private financial institutions, will invest in companies that will produce a total of more than 1,000 new jobs for low-income Baltimore residents and a financial return for investors.

In addition to the Open Society Institute and the Casey Foundation, which last year made challenge pledges of $5 million each, the fund's investors include the Baltimore Community Foundation, Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation, Morris Goldseker Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Johns Hopkins Institutions, Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Aaron Straus & Lillie Straus Foundation, Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Foundation and the Hoffberger Foundations.

Among those participating in the press conference will be:

  • Diana Morris, director, Open Society Institute-Baltimore
  • Douglas W. Nelson, president, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Jeremy Nowak, president and chief executive officer, The Reinvestment Fund
  • Neal Moszkowski, Senior Partner, Soros Fund Management
  • Baltimore City Deputy Mayor Laurie Schwartz

The Baltimore Fund launches "a philanthropic and corporate movement to create good jobs and provide healthy returns to investors," says George Soros, the founder of Quantum Fund and worldwide philanthropist who created the Open Society Institute. "The Baltimore Fund creates a unique opportunity to combine the best of venture capital experiences with social philanthropic goals. Investing in jobs makes good business sense."

The Baltimore Fund, initiated by the Open Society Institute-Baltimore and co-sponsored by the Casey Foundation, is planning to be part of a $50 million multi-state fund managed by TRF Urban Growth Partners, the venture capital arm of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), one the nation's leading community development financial institutions. An advisory board comprising local investors selected TRF, based in Philadelphia, because of its commitment to community and job development and its track record on a previous venture fund for returning over 10 percent on investments.

"This fund is a perfect fit for Baltimore and any major urban city that has pockets of robust development next to impoverished neighborhoods," says Diana Morris, OSI-Baltimore director. "Together, we're putting $15 million of new—and very much needed—equity capital into the Baltimore economy. This community development venture capital fund is a unique model for investing in promising companies, creating skilled jobs, and preparing low-income people to enter the workforce."

In the next four years, the fund will select and invest in approximately 8 to 10 growth-oriented companies in Baltimore City and the surrounding five counties that promise to offer skilled manufacturing, technology and service jobs to low-income workers. The fund will seek private and public resources and workforce providers to help recruit, train and retain these workers. The fund will also provide technical assistance to the portfolio companies to ensure their financial viability and growth.

"Workers need more than jobs; they need jobs that support a family, offer benefits, and promise advancement," says Douglas W. Nelson, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "The Baltimore Fund is an exciting opportunity to grow the economy and develop the workforce at the same time. And the bottom line is twice blessed—good jobs and good returns on investment."

TRF is a community development financial institution with $130 million in assets. In recent years, TRF has successfully pioneered the combining of venture investing with workforce development to generate a financial return to investors while creating jobs, quality housing, community and educational facilities. TRF's Urban Growth Partners already has an impressive list of national investors in the multi-state fund, including JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, MBNA, The Ford Foundation, Fleet, First Union, PNC Bank and various high net worth individuals. TRF is based in Philadelphia and plans to open an office in Baltimore with local staff for The Baltimore Fund.

Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of TRF, notes that "We are thrilled with the commitment of the Baltimore investors to invest in the city's economic base and human capital. From our first venture fund, we have seen the successful financial and job returns created by combining capital investment and workforce assistance. We believe this multi-state fund will be a national model."

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The Open Society Institute is a private operating and grantmaking foundation that promotes the development of open society around the world. OSI 's U.S. Programs seek to strengthen democracy in the United States by addressing barriers to opportunity and justice, broadening public discussion about such barriers, and assisting marginalized groups to participate equally in civil society and to make their voices heard. U.S. Programs challenge over-reliance on the market by advocating appropriate government responsibility for human needs and promoting public interest and service values in law, medicine, and the media. OSI's U.S. Programs support initiatives in a range of areas, including access to justice for low and moderate income people; independence of the judiciary; ending the death penalty; reducing gun violence and over-reliance on incarceration; drug policy reform; inner-city education and youth programs; fair treatment of immigrants; reproductive health and choice; campaign finance reform; and improved care of the dying. OSI is part of the network of foundations, created and funded by George Soros, active in more than 50 countries around the world.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. It was established in 1948 by Jim Casey, one of the founders of United Parcel Service, and his siblings, who named the Foundation in honor of their mother. The primary mission of the Foundation is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today's vulnerable children and families. In pursuit of this goal, the Foundation makes grants that help states, cities, and neighborhoods fashion more innovative, cost-effective responses to these needs. For more information, visit the Foundation's website, www.aecf.org.

The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) mission is to alleviate poverty by building assets, wealth and opportunity for low- and moderate-income communities and persons. TRF accomplishes its mission through the strategic use of capital, knowledge and innovation. TRF has a wide array of finance, policy and service programs that further this mission: Affordable Housing Finance, Community Service Organization Finance, Small Business Finance, Venture Capital Investing,Workforce Services, Public Policy & Research, Energy Efficiency Finance, and Sustainable Development.

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