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Rockefeller Foundation to Invest $65M in Low-Wage Workers

On February 25, the Rockefeller Foundation announced a new campaign aimed at lifting marginalized communities out of poverty. To achieve this objective, the Foundation is investing $65 million into programs that will help 10 million U.S. workers and their families meet their basic needs.

“Far too many people work hard and play by the rules, but the American Dream feels more out of reach than ever before—and for many marginalized communities, it was hardly accessible to begin with,” said Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah. “Over our 106-year history, The Rockefeller Foundation has stepped up during our country’s most critical moments. To meet the moment today and going forward, we have to fight on every front to expand opportunity for America’s working families.”

According to the Foundation, more than 44 million working households in the U.S. struggle to pay their bills each month. As part of its investment strategy, the Foundation is launching the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative, which will focus on expanding and modernizing economic policies like the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), two of the most effective tools for lifting families out of poverty.

The Initiative will also focus on encouraging public-private partnerships to invest in “Opportunity Zones” as part of a new tax policy designed to spur economic growth in distressed communities. Efforts are currently underway in the following areas: Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, Dallas, TX, Louisville, KY, Miami, FL, Newark, NJ, New Orleans, LA, Norfolk, VA, Pittsburgh, PA, Oakland, CA., Seattle, WA, St. Louis, MO, and Washington D.C.

“There is no investment in America that gets a better ROI than investment in an equitable future for America’s workers,” said Otis Rolley, managing director and acting senior vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative. “Our team hit the ground running and are already supporting proven economic policies and promoting grassroots partnerships to spur greater investment in low-wage workers and low-income communities all across the country.”

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Investment Company Factors in Charity Efforts

Large companies donating money to charitable causes is nothing new, nor are charitable organizations operated or at least started by the wealthy. Groups like the Rockefeller Foundation do a great deal of good, but other companies, from Coca-Cola to Walmart, all donate money as well. A new company, Swell Investing, has decided to take that idea and help people “do well while doing good.”

The idea is this: you invest money through Swell, a minimum investment costs $250, and when you do so, you pick one of four charity “motifs” to help. These include upholding civil rights, improving education, fighting cancer, and ending poverty. Swell then finds companies that share your charitable interests and invests money in those companies. You get returns on your investment, they get a flat fee of $9.95, and the companies you invest in donate money, which they were going to do anyway. You can even customize your portfolio so if there is a particular company you don’t want to invest in, or a particular company you do, your portfolio can reflect that.

The idea seems pretty sound, and it’s certainly a rather generous model for getting people to invest. At the core, people investing are still making money through investing, which can be problematic from a class analysis, but the barrier to entry is lower than most investment firms, which does make it available to a wider range of people.

The idea is especially appealing to younger investors, millennials and such, who are more likely to be concerned about the social side effects of their investments. They want to make money, but they aren’t sure if pushing sugary colas on children is the way to do so. By using Swell, they get the opportunity to invest, make money, and feel good about themselves.

The jury is still out on how effective this all is, and the irony of investing in Walmart while fighting to end poverty should be lost on no one. There are always direct donations to charities for a more efficient way to give.