Northwestern Mutual launches $100 million investment fund focused on Black communities

Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons. Credit: Jon Elliott of MKE Drones LLC
Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons. Credit: Jon Elliott of MKE Drones LLC

Last updated on August 12th, 2021 at 01:36 pm

Northwestern Mutual launched a new $100 million fund that will address inequality and the racial wealth gap by investing in Black and African American communities in the Milwaukee area and nationally, the life insurer announced today.

The company has already made its first investment in Gateway Capital, a Milwaukee-based venture fund led by Dana Guthrie that raised more than $12.5 million in less than a year.

Northwestern Mutual’s $100 million “Impact Investing Fund” will focus on the following areas: physical and social infrastructure, access to capital for individuals and businesses and healthy sustainable neighborhoods and communities, according to the company.

“The Impact Investing Fund is intended to make measurable improvement in racial equity, while also generating a positive financial return for our policy owners,” Northwestern Mutual executive vice president Ray Manista said in a statement.

The fund was created by Northwestern Mutual’s Sustain Action for Racial Equity (SARE) task force, which launched in 2020 to “make a bold, real and long-term impact that drives equity and inclusion,” according to a press release.

The new $100 million fund is the latest in a series of multi-million-dollar commitments by the company that aim to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

Last year, Northwestern Mutual dedicated $20 million to support black entrepreneurs in Milwaukee and throughout the country via its corporate venture capital fund Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. To date, NMFV has invested in five companies, according to the company.

Northwestern Mutual also recently launched the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder accelerator program, which is designed for black founders with startups in fintech and digital health. The program, which is a partnership with Milwaukee-based gener8tor, had five graduates in its first cohort including Milwaukee-based Tip a ScRxipt.

The company also operates a $15 billion socially responsible investment portfolio within its general account that broadly focuses on socio-economic and green investments, according to Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern Mutual dedicated $2.5 million to schools and education initiatives in the city last year with the goal of investing in educational pathways to close the achievement gap in Milwaukee.

The company says it has invested $28 million over the last 30 years to help underserved neighborhoods in the Milwaukee area with housing support, access to youth and family resources and food programs.

“We’re working to drive breakthrough solutions to help close the racial equity gap with continued and dedicated support and investment,” Manista said in a statement. “This latest announcement is a testament to our ongoing commitment to drive change and demonstrable outcomes in our hometown and nationwide.”

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