"You helped us invest in our state"

When the UNH Foundation invested $3.06 million in the Community Loan Fund in July 2017, they were the foundation’s first impact investments, and its first directly in a New Hampshire organization or business.

Combined, they were also one of the largest investments ever in the Community Loan Fund.

The convergence of several factors made it happen, says Erik Gross, the foundation’s treasurer.

UNH is rightfully proud of its history in the field of sustainability, which includes its Sustainability Institute, several related majors, renowned work on climate research, and a student-led trash-to-treasure program.

So after it earned the Gold-level STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) rating in 2014, administrators set their sights on the highest, Platinum, rating.

STARS grades universities in 18 areas related to sustainability, and its investments were one in which UNH had room to improve. An investment here would be one way to help UNH achieve that highest rating.

As a public institution, UNH is charged with a very important responsibility to New Hampshire, and this was a great way to solidify that. You use our investments to provide opportunities for people who are among the neediest in the state.

Erik Gross, Treasurer
UNH Foundation

At the same time, toward the end of an ongoing discussion with students who wanted UNH to divest its investments from fossil fuel companies, one student said, “Well, you know what would be really awesome? If you could just make an investment in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.”

The foundation’s investment advisor had analyzed the Community Loan Fund and approved it as an impact investment, not only for UNH, but for any of the advisor's  clients.

So the UNH Foundation made the two investments in July 2017, and followed them the next summer with another $1 million from its sustainable investing portfolio.

The investments are a natural fit for the foundation, says Erik.

“New Hampshire is part and parcel of what UNH is,” he says. “The fact that (the investment) fits within our portfolio as a prudent investment is very important, but after that, it’s a great way to be able to help the people of New Hampshire.”

Learn more about investing in the Community Loan Fund.

This story appeared in the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s 2018 annual report.