The CFAP Sustainable Investing Thought Leadership Group provides a forum to advance the dialogue regarding the role of sustainable investing in today’s capital markets and beyond.  In particular, the group directs its attention to furthering an understanding and clarifying the risks and opportunities linked to environmental, social and governance issues.  

At this meeting, Catherine Berman, CEO and Co-Founder of CNote, and Mark Pinsky, Founding Partner of CDFI Friendly America, discussed one of our best kept sustainable investment secrets……Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs). 

Mark gave us a CDFI 101 Lesson on how CDFIs are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to disadvantaged people and communities throughout the United States.  He talked about the more than 1,100 CDFIs managing $222 billion in urban, rural, and native markets in all 50 states and their counter-cyclical investment nature that perform best when the economy turns down.  Mark told us about CDFIs being one of the first responders in today’s COVID-19 health pandemic and playing an outsized role responding to our financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Cat spoke about using CDFIs when building a diversified portfolio.  She explained how CDFIs can be used as a cash equivalent or short-term fixed income element in an investment portfolio.  We learned that the CNote platform was created to screen offerings by yield, region and social purpose.  An institutional investor can build a thematic (i.e. Climate Change) or regional (i.e. Greater Philadelphia Area) portfolio for as little as $100,000.  The CNote team can also preform the due-diligence on such portfolios, for those consulting or money management firms that do not have the bandwidth or expertise to do so. 

Our next meeting is scheduled on Wednesday, September 23rdRuth Shaber, Founder and President of Tara Health Foundation, will discuss the gap that exists between money management professionals and the foundations that are looking for investments that have a social impact and advance their organization’s mission.

If you have any questions regarding this posting or becoming part of the CFAP Sustainable Investing Thought Leadership Group, please contact Michael Cosack at

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