Creating Jewish Leadership in Social Impact Investing

LAVAN Announces First Fellowship Cohort
By Avi Deutsch

From large financial institutions to the world’s most influential philanthropic foundations, impact investing has emerged as powerful tool for social change, and a decisive point of attraction for the next generation. Building on this momentum, LAVAN’s newly launched Impact Investor Fellowship brings together a select group of 28 Jewish leaders committed to aligning their individual and communal assets with their values.

Demonstrating the broad relevance of impact investing for the Jewish community, the Fellowship has drawn leaders from fields spanning government, philanthropy, social change, tech, entertainment, and finance. These individuals are seeking to make a positive impact using not only their own assets, but also those of the organizations, synagogues, and philanthropic foundations they influence.

“Like many members of my generation, I want to make sure that my investments are true to what I believe in”, says Jonah Mink, MD, a member of the Schusterman ROI Community and one of the co-creators of the Fellowship. “I’ve been looking for a way to learn about impact investing for many years, and the opportunity to do so among a cohort of Jewish leaders and within a framework of Jewish learning makes the process all the more meaningful.”

Over the course of the next eight months, the Fellows will utilize Jewish texts and teachings to explore their personal and communal values, and learn how to tackle large social and environmental challenges using market mechanisms, in their personal lives, and as a community.

The launch event held in New York on the eve of September 11th outlined the journey on which the Fellows are embarking. Centered on the question of ‘What type of person do I want to be in light of the great challenges around us?,’ the participants explored notions of individual and collective responsibility in Judaism, using the text of the Viddui (confession), a part of the Yom Kippur prayer. The event concluded with a keynote address by Ron Cordes, co-founder of the Cordes Foundation and a leader in the impact investing movement. Cordes described his journey from starting a large asset management firm to co-founding one of the first foundations to align 100% of its capital with its mission.

The LAVAN Impact Investor Fellowship was made possible with the generous support of the Schusterman Foundation’s ROI Community, EJF Philanthropies, and several private donors. “I’m so honored and thankful to be able to support this program” says Simone Friedman, Head of Philanthropy and Impact Investment for EJF Philanthropies. “The opportunity that the program is providing is not just for the participants to become impact investors in their private lives, but leaders for the Jewish community and for the rest of the world.”

Avi Deutsch is Co-founder and CEO at LAVAN.