June 5, 2020

Black Lives Matter – SJF Ventures Statement of Support

We, like you, have been dealing with shock, sadness, frustration, and anger in the wake of the recent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  As with the cases of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others, we know the unfortunate truth that for every George Floyd, there are an unknown number of similar events that go undocumented.  There is no denying that these events reflect a more systemic and persistent problem around racism and injustice in our country, and the associated fear and anxiety that African Americans are forced to face daily in today’s America.  There is also no denying that this is as much an urgent human rights issue as it is a Black issue.  As such, as community members, parents, and impact investors, we firmly stand in solidarity with our Black communities, as well as with all of those who are similarly pained and seeking constructive solutions to catalyze change.  We recognize that there is more that we can do and need to do. 

When SJF was originally launched as ‘Sustainable Jobs Fund,’ we focused initially on creating quality employment in low-income urban and rural communities.  Our mandate as ‘SJF Ventures’ has expanded over the last two decades to support a broader set of positive impact companies, many of which are providing employment, health, education, and mobility services in Black communities.  Unfortunately, however, too few of our portfolio companies have been founded or led by Black teams.  We also know that at SJF our investment team is not representative of the broader population.  With our hiring, both of team members and MBA venture fellows, we are working to build a more diverse team.  Further, we are working through Impact Capital Managers, a network of 50 impact funds collectively representing over $11 billion in assets, to support racial justice and more Black fund managers and entrepreneurs. 

As we look to rebuild our economy after the pandemic and fight against racial injustice, we are actively seeking investments with a renewed urgency to scale and support companies that help address societal inequities, particularly in correctional reform, healthcare access, education equity, and sustainable job creation. 

We recognize that this alone is far from enough. In the near-term, SJF is also taking the following actions: open team discussions, workplace training sessions (including on implicit bias), learning how to be advocates for public policy reform, supporting our local communities, and making donations to organizations creating actionable change.  Additionally, we are continuing to look for other longer-term initiatives, as well as ways in which we can hold ourselves accountable to this cause. 

We are also listening.  Jopwell, a career advancement platform for Black, Latinx, and Native American professionals with which we are happy to have invested and partnered, has created a specific list of resources that we seek to learn from ourselves and share with you here.

We at SJF acknowledge our responsibility to be part of the solution.  Beyond standing with our Black communities today, we are committed to the continued fight against racial injustices and holding ourselves accountable to championing change.  We look forward to having you join us on this endeavor in collaboratively working towards a brighter, more impactful, tomorrow.