Recent news articles and announcements about the Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework
With an Eye on the "Most Vulnerable," a Foundation Works to Ensure that a New Law Boosts the Urban Poor
Inside Philanthropy / August 7, 2019 / Read Full Article
Some impact investors see the law’s failure to include impact reporting requirements or objectives as a missed opportunity. Transparency and reporting guidelines were also minimal, making cities blind to the investments being made.… Besides Rockefeller, other nonprofit leaders are stepping up to balance investors' interests with positive community involvement. The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown and the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance developed a shared impact and reporting framework to help shape the market. In June, the President’s Council on Impact Investing, a network of 20 leading private foundations within the alliance, published an open letter to legislators pushing for mandatory reporting requirements to prevent resident displacement and ensure benefit equality.
Foundations Push for Reporting Requirements on Opportunity Zone Funds
FundFire / June 26, 2019 / Read Full Article
The Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing, a group of powerful private foundations, is asking legislators to add a mandatory reporting requirement and other regulations to the rulebook for opportunity zone funds… The Presidents’ Council, in its letter, asked that all investors report according to the framework released by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. “Requiring measurement and reporting, particularly as it relates to the intent behind the developments, and the ultimate results, will help to motivate better social impact,” Jim Sorenson says. The framework, he adds, is important so that, in 10 years, the public can “look at the data … and see If the poverty rate has measurably decreased, and if unemployment has decreased, and if the medium income has increased.”
EIG Urges Treasury to Adopt Reporting Framework, Measure Investment Impact in Opportunity Zones
Economic Innovation Group / June 12, 2019 / Read Full Article
The Economic Innovation Group (EIG) recently led a broad coalition of stakeholders in submitting detailed recommendations to the U.S. Department of the Treasury calling for the adoption of a reporting framework for investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones… “The Opportunity Zones incentive has unlocked critical new sources of capital for low-income communities across the country, but measuring the full impact of this policy requires the adoption of a thoughtful data collection framework,” said EIG President and CEO John Lettieri. “This letter underscores the widespread support for such a framework among leading private sector and philanthropic stakeholders.”
Opportunity Zones: Can Philanthropy Provide Accountability When the Law Does Not?
Nonprofit Quarterly / May 29, 2019 / Read Full Article
There are also some additional foundations and donors who, like the Rockefeller Foundation, are focused on figuring out ways to measure the impact of these tax breaks. The Kresge Foundation, for example, has pledged $22 million to support fund managers who will report on opportunity zone investments. Additionally, Jim Sorenson, an entrepreneur, investor, and businessman based in Utah, has announced he is seeding a $150 million fund that will measure investment impact in these zones using a framework designed by US Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center at Georgetown University.
Rockefeller Foundation Aims to Make Trump Tax Perk Work for Poor
Bloomberg / May 21, 2019 / Read Full Article
The Rockefeller Foundation is set to announce Tuesday that it will hand out $5.5 million to help six U.S. cities promote “responsible” investment in areas designated as opportunity zones… Rockefeller’s grants are part of a broader effort by philanthropies, public officials and others to make sure the tax break has positive outcomes. The Kresge Foundation pledged $22 million this year to support fund managers who agree to report on their investments in opportunity zones. Jim Sorenson, a prominent impact investor, said this week he’s seeding a $150 million fund that will use a framework designed by U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center at Georgetown University to measure the good it does in distressed areas.
Impact Reporting and the Opportunity Zones Incentives
Novogradac / May 3, 2019 / Read Full Article
The opportunity zones (OZ) incentive is expected to drive substantial capital into low-income communities across the country, but in order for that to continue long-term, data is needed to highlight the incentive’s impact. The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework is one approach for OZ impact reporting. The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework is designed to define best practices for investors and fund managers looking to invest in OZs.
OZ Framework: Measuring Impact in Opportunity Zones
OpportunityDb / March 27, 2019 / Listen to the Full Podcast
Should the Treasury Department impose a community impact reporting requirement on Opportunity Zone investing? And what would a reporting framework even look like? Earlier this year, the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, in partnership with Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, created the Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework — a guideline that defines best practices for Opportunity Zones investors and fund sponsors. John Cochrane is senior associate at the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, and he joins me on the podcast today to discuss the framework and how to measure the impact of the Opportunity Zones tax policy.
Private Sector Looks to Measure Impact of Opportunity Zones
Barron’s / February 27, 2019 / Read Full Article
Investors who want to make a positive social or environmental impact while earning a financial return would seem naturally drawn to investing in “opportunity zones,” low-income areas throughout the U.S. designated by governors in each state as in need of economic development. But the regulatory language outlining practices for investing in these 8,700 zones offers no assurance to investors or community members that funds investing in these economically distressed areas—known as Qualified Opportunity Zone, or QOZ, funds—will have that kind of positive impact. Earlier this month, the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, announced a voluntary reporting framework that offers best practices for fund managers and investors. It was written with input from more than 30 contributors, including academics, foundations, investors, asset managers, and community stakeholders.
Impact Investing Offers Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework
GlobeSt. / February 7, 2019 / Read Full Article
The US Impact Investing Alliance (USIIA) and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University have released an impact measurement framework and a set of principles for Opportunity Zones. The framework also defines best practices for managers seeking to invest in the designated Opportunity Zones around the country. Market participants will also be urged to share how and where they will deploy capital and to maintain a focus on the policy’s original purpose: achieving positive economic and social outcomes in distressed communities.
Impact Investing Leaders Introduce Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework
U.S. Impact Investing Alliance & Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University / February 6, 2019 / Read the Press Release
The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework, a voluntary guideline, is designed to define best practices for Opportunity Fund managers seeking to invest in designated Opportunity Zones around the country. Market participants will be encouraged to abide by these best practices and to proactively share how and where they will deploy capital as part of a collaborative effort to build the market and maintain a focus on the policy’s original purpose: achieving positive economic and social outcomes in distressed communities.
Will Opportunity Zones Spark New Impact Investing Funds?
FundFire / November 21, 2018 / Read Full Article
The private fund market is abuzz over prospects for new products, capital raising, and tax benefits from the new federal qualified opportunity zone (QOZ) program. But there has been scant focus on the potential for fund managers to use these strategies to vault into another active segment: impact investing. But while any fund launched under the new program is likely to target investments designed to benefit disadvantaged communities, that doesn’t mean managers will find it easy to achieve and track impact returns. The QOZ program doesn’t mandate impact reporting, and while advocates push for rules to require tracking of standard data on investments – such as size of transaction and type of qualifying asset – it won’t be comprehensive, says John Cochrane, senior associate at the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, which is working on that effort.
Why Impact Data and Transparency are Keys to Success in Opportunity Zones
ImpactAlpha / September 6, 2018 / Read Full Article
Data is integral to the success of any program, product or policy, and to the continued functioning of the financial markets. Data shows us where capital is flowing and how that capital is being used; it tells us a story about where there are structural barriers and where there are opportunities. Data allows all stakeholders—from fund managers and investors to community members and policymakers—to have a shared understanding about what works and what doesn’t.
Treasury risks dropping the ball on Opportunity Zones accountability
The Hill / July 15, 2019 / Read Full Article
Opportunity Zones have inspired hope for many, but also a growing fear. How will we know if we’re getting a good deal? Unfortunately, unless Treasury acts, we may never get an answer. I recently joined market participants and community advocates to testify at an IRS hearing on Opportunity Zones. There I delivered a simple message: Opportunity Zones must include clear, consistent and transparent reporting standards…. Authentic community engagement demands reliable data. Residents need information to know what works within Opportunity Zones and what doesn’t so they can engage proactively. Data will show where capital is flowing, how that capital is being used and the outcomes generated. The only way to ensure this data is consistent and actionable is through clear standards of reporting and transparency.
Government and Investors Seek to Lift Opportunity Zones, but Communities Will Define Success
U.S. Impact Investing Alliance / June 25, 2019 / Read Full Article
The Opportunity Zone Reporting Framework, released by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, the Beeck Center at Georgetown University and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, provides a model for how fund managers can consistently, transparently and authentically engage with communities. Investors and fund managers in Opportunity Zones must embrace a set of principles that promote authentic community engagement to determine investment priorities, learn and respond to residents' needs and shape a shared vision for equitable development. Opportunity Fund managers should also be proactive and transparent in measuring and reporting the impact stemming from their investments.
Clarifying Community Benefits to Improve Place-Based Programs
Stanford Social Innovation Review / June 7, 2019 / Read Full Article
We lay much of the blame on the lack of a comprehensive framework that meaningfully identifies and measures public benefits that reflect a community's unique character and helps evaluate the delivery of those positive changes. Yes, there are guiding principles for prioritizing community engagement in US Opportunity Zones and Australian Enterprise Precincts. Five come from the US Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact. But we must go further to identify the results that actually help communities in need and ensure place-based programs earn the policy advantages they enjoy.
Opportunity Zones' Biggest Myths
Forbes / May 28, 2019 / Read Full Article
The stakeholders involved in managing risk are both widespread and varied. The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York have partnered with other organizations to create an Opportunity Zone Framework that will help investors deploy capital in a manner that generates positive social outcomes. It also includes a reporting framework for measuring impact… many stakeholders are working more proactively, mobilizing and collaborating community-wide to engage investors and direct capital to projects that will benefit areas holistically. Together, effective use of these tools will be able to minimize the gentrification risk.
Sorenson Seeds $150 Million Fund to Invest in Overlooked America
Bloomberg / May 19, 2019 / Read Full Article
Jim Sorenson, a prominent Utah entrepreneur, investor and businessman, plans to announce Monday that Catalyst, a private equity firm he helped found, is raising $150 million to invest in opportunity zones. The group’s first fund, which Sorenson is seeding with $10 million, will focus on developing real estate with an eye toward delivering both market-rate returns and measurable social good… The firm is pledging to rigorously measure outcomes of its investments using a framework developed by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center at Georgetown University. And it hopes to follow up quickly with a second fund devoted to seeding businesses that could bring jobs to the communities where it invests.
Cottage Industry in Opportunity Zone Data Forms to Fill Vacuum
Bloomberg Tax / April 18, 2019 / Read Full Article
In the private sector, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Morgan Stanley, and UBS Group AG are among those that have given their input on what a framework for transparency should look like. That framework, from the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, has won the support of many socially-minded investors, nonprofits, and state and local governments.
How Opportunity Zones Cut Taxes And Build Communities
Your Mark on the World / March 19, 2019 / Watch the Full Video
The difference between community redevelopment and gentrification isn’t entirely a subjective judgment left to the eye of the beholder, say Fran Seegull and Jen Collins. Fran is the executive director for the U.S. Impact Investment Alliance and Jen is a fellow-in-residence at the Beeck Center at Georgetown University. They are leading minds on community-based impact investing under Opportunity Zones created by the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act. The law that created Opportunity Zones did not limit the investments to those with demonstrable social impact. The U.S. Impact Investment Alliance and the Beeck Center have partnered to develop a framework for investing in Opportunity Zones intended to be a defining difference between community redevelopment and gentrification.
Wall Street, Seeking Big Tax Breaks, Sets Sights on Distressed Main Streets
The New York Times / February 20, 2019 / Read Full Article
The federal government has not finished setting guidelines for what types of projects qualify or what information fund managers must provide to investors and to the government. “I believe it really can be a great model to demonstrate the holistic, community-informed investments that can transform these distressed communities, while earning returns,” said Jim Sorenson, an entrepreneur based in Utah. Mr. Sorenson, who hosts an annual gathering of impact investors in Salt Lake City, devoted much of this year’s meeting, in February, to discussing the potential benefits of the zones. He joined several groups in announcing an effort to create a “guiding set of principles” for making such investments.
Mercer, Impact Groups Fire Up Opportunity Fund Research
FundFire / February 6, 2019 / Read Full Article
Fund managers aren’t the only players bustling in the new qualified opportunity zone market – investment consultants, financial advisors, product platforms, and impact investing groups are busy developing tools and resources to help decide which products should win an expected wave of client capital. Mercer already has vetted the early slate of managers to recommend funds for CAIS, an alts platform for advisors, and today marks the launch of an impact investment framework from the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation.
Opportunity Zone investors want impact. Let’s help them get it.
ImpactAlpha / January 10, 2019 / Read Full Article
Not since 2000 (with the New Markets Tax Credit legislation) has a tax policy so dramatically captured the attention of investors and community development practitioners as has Opportunity Zones. Regulations have not yet been finalized. Opportunity Funds are just beginning to close. But our early belief is that large, positive impact for people and attractive returns for investors are both possible – and critical to the success of the Opportunity Zone legislation… Our takeaways: Guiding principles matter (and we’re building them). Investors want impact (and we’re harnessing demand). And success requires unexpected partnerships (and we’re facilitating them).
Unlikely Alliance Could Rebuild America
Real Estate Weekly / Novembe 7, 2018 / Read Full Article
Created as part of last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the program has designated certain low-income census tracts as Opportunity Zones, areas in which capital gains realized from the sale of property or other appreciated assets can be reinvested on a tax-deferred basis. The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance is a development organization that looks to encourage private investment in economically depressed areas. The Alliance’s John Cochrane sees potential for the Opportunity Zones program to help this cause, he said efforts should be made to increase transparency and facilitate partnerships between local governments, small developers and the funds. A crucial element, he added, is making sure communities get the investments they’re looking for not just the projects that are most familiar to the developers.
Opportunity Zones: Moving Toward a Shared Impact Framework
Federal Reserve Bank of New York / August 8, 2018 / Read Full Article
Gathering baseline data on Opportunity Fund investments will allow policymakers, researchers, and community development practitioners to assess the short- and long-term impact of these flows of capital to underserved communities… Impact reporting should focus on data that is both material to impact goals and responsive in nature, allowing businesses to adapt if they aren’t meeting community needs.
Data Gathering Is Crucial To The Success And Survival Of Opportunity Zones
BisNow / July 15, 2019 / Read Full Article
Since opportunity zones were introduced at the end of 2017, they have been touted by some as potential vehicles for transformative change in underserved communities. How one might measure such change remains painfully unclear. When the IRS and Treasury Department held the second public hearing about opportunity zone regulations in early July, multiple speakers, including U.S. Impact Investing Alliance Executive Director Fran Seegull, requested that the agencies implement a mechanism for data collection, analysis and disclosure…. Earlier this year, the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University released a reporting framework for the private sector to use, with the hope that it could assist Treasury and the IRS in conceiving a less onerous system that would be mandatory.
Investors to Treasury: Collect our Opportunity Zone data
ImpactAlpha / June 13, 2019 / Read Full Article
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is said to believe that impact metrics will “kill” Opportunity Zones. Nearly 70 organizations and Opportunity Zone investors including Arctaris Impact Fund, Blueprint Local, Calvert Impact Capital, KPMG, LISC and the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance disagree. In an open letter, the investors call on the Treasury Department to adopt a reporting framework for investments in designated Opportunity Zones. “Measuring the full impact of this policy requires the adoption of a thoughtful data collection framework,” said John Lettieri of Economic Innovation Group, which led the effort.
Opportunity zones should deliver more than profit and tax breaks
Crain’s New York Business / May 29, 2019 / Read Full Article
Qualified opportunity funds should work with community leaders and longtime community pillars like universities and health centers to connect investors with worthy projects that will yield a positive social impact… Last summer, for example, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York joined with the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation to develop a formal framework for evaluating potential investments. The principles they outlined include community engagement, equitable community benefits, transparency and measurement so that progress on objectives can be tracked and improved upon.
UBS and Wells Fargo Wealth Unit Suspect Investors Won’t Mind New Complications to Popular Tax-Break Investment Vehicle
Financial Advisor IQ / May 24, 2019 / Read Full Article
U.S. Impact Investing Alliance has worked closely with Jim Sorenson, a prominent impact investor, Cochrane says. Earlier this month, Sorenson announced he will provide seed money for a $150 million fund that will use a U.S. Impact Investing-developed framework to “measure the good it does in distressed areas,” Bloomberg recently reported… Some large, well-funded private foundations have long-established partnerships with impact investors, and they hope to segue those relationships into helping shape the OZ program’s results.
Related Hauls In $200M for Opportunity Zone Effort
FundFire / May 15, 2019 / Read Full Article
The new bill would mandate basic reporting to create a broad picture about the program’s effectiveness in creating economic activity, but some details are pending, says John Cochrane, manager for policy and programs at the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance… The impact alliance and Zone Fund Association have discussed additional reporting tools that might capture more impact data from managers, says Cochrane, whose organization introduced a voluntary format earlier this year. “We hope to have some level of reporting at the trade association that would align with the new standards and our reporting framework,” he says.
White House Opportunity Zone Conference
White House / April 17, 2019 / Watch Full Video
Fran Seegull, Executive Director of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, participated in a panel testimony at the White House Opportunity Zone Conference on April 17 where she discussed the Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework and the importance of impact data and transparency.
An Opportunity Zone Fund Checklist for Advisors
ThinkAdvisor / March 6, 2019 / Read Full Article
Investors need to understand how the fund is ensuring that benefits accrue to the local community, including its commitment to monitoring progress and and the thesis behind the strategy. Is the focus on job creation or providing access to basic needs and services like affordable housing or educational training? To that end, a group of members and supporters of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and its partner, the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, have developed an Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework. It consists of voluntary guidelines for best practices of opportunity zone fund managers to help achieve “positive economic and social outcomes in distressed communities.”
Opportunity Zones Investors Receive Needed Guidance For Measurable Impact
Forbes / February 11, 2019 / Read Full Article
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created a new investment incentive for low-income communities called Opportunity Zones. Under the new rules, capital gains can be sheltered from tax when invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds. The law does not specifically require that the investment have a measurable social impact—or any social impact—for that matter, apparently presuming that all investment in Opportunity Zones is a good investment.The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, fearing that not all investments have a positive impact on the communities have developed a framework for Opportunity Zone investing and impact measurement.
Pushing for Community Engagement and Impact Reporting in Opportunity Zone Investing
ImpactAlpha / February 6, 2019 / Read Full Article
Investors don’t need to wait for federal rules to commit to community engagement and honest appraisal of the social and environmental impact of their investments in low-income Opportunity Zones. A new reporting framework from the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center at Georgetown University stresses key principles, including engagement with low-income and underinvested communities, equitable community benefits, and transparency and measurement around impact objectives and outcomes. Executive director Fran Seegull said that as the Alliance presses for federal standards on reporting, “this voluntary framework will help model a higher standard of practice.”
U.S. Impact Investing Alliance Comment Letter on Proposed Opportunity Zones Regulations
U.S. Impact Investing Alliance / December 13, 2018 / Read Full Letter
The goal of the Opportunity Zones tax benefit, as stated in the preamble to the proposed regulations, is clear: “to encourage economic growth and investment in designated distressed communities.” … The Opportunity Zones market cannot function efficiently without access to basic, transparent data about Opportunity Funds and their investments.
How Foundations Are Shaping ‘Biggest Experiment’ of Opportunity Funds
Barron’s / October 30, 2018 / Read Full Article
Opportunity zones offer the promise of lifting up thousands of communities across the country with better jobs and affordable housing. Investing in these zones through qualified opportunity funds, vehicles funded by deferred capital gains, also offers the promise of pushing impact investing—the practice of investing for positive social or environmental good—into the mainstream of asset management… But for the promise of opportunity zones to be filled and not be undermined by, for example, gentrification that pushes low-income families out of their communities, impact investing advocates and philanthropists say the public needs to know how tax dollars intended to help the 8,700 identified opportunity zones are being directed.
In the Land of OZ, Who Will Benefit?
Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University / March 13, 2018 / Read Full Article
We believe this new tax benefit creates an opportunity to improve low-income communities in underserved rural and urban areas by attracting more private capital to finance small businesses, community services and social enterprises. But, if Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds are designed in ways that solely benefit activities and projects that do not need subsidy to succeed, including high end, real estate based projects, then the legislation will not meet its potential for delivering meaningful impact. Opportunity Zones can and should create living wage jobs, improve community assets, and help build wealth for people in places that have not yet recovered from the global recession.