At the end of 2020, Crossing Capital Group, Inc. (CCG) established the The Oikos Institute for Social Impact (Oikos) to create mutually supportive ecosystems with seminaries and universities, foundations, government agencies and denominational judicatories for social impact. At their best, these ecosystems will be community-centered and will disrupt the cycle of exploitation of properties owned largely by historically Black congregations. CCG will also coordinate opportunities for the local deployment of impact capital, or investments made with the intent to yield a social or environmental return as well as a financial return. The two organizations share a mission to help faith communities harness the power of their assets in order to be a transformational force for community economic renewal and vitality.
“Too many churches do not realize the assets in their midst,” said CCG and Oikos founder Rev. Dr. Sidney Williams. Our “Fishing Differently” approach helps congregations recognize and utilize the resources within their church and community, creating more vibrant congregations and positive impact in the under-resourced communities they serve.” The Oikos Executive Director is Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount, an AME pastor and an Associate Professor at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. “Learning communities are core to the process,” said Dr. Blount. “Together, participants discover and embrace their vocational identity and mission, and our partnerships provide the resources to help the congregations move their mission forward.”
One such partner is Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), a 40-year old community development finance institution that promotes the success of nonprofits by providing capital and strategic consulting, as well as working to transform the funding and financing landscape. NFF shares CCG and Oikos’ goal of supporting the agency of Black communities, and recently committed $5 million in investment capital and its consulting expertise to the initiative.
“This work requires a thoughtful combination of community organizing and design thinking with flexible impact investing,” said Antony Bugg-Levine, NFF CEO. “CCG and Oikos have pioneered a proven approach that guides faith communities through a process to reimagine what is possible, build a collective vision, harness financial knowledge, and access the financing they need to bring that vision into reality. The process honors the tradition and legacy embedded in these properties and enables the church communities to maintain agency in the use and development of their assets. NFF is excited to bring to this crucial work our ability to tailor investments to meet community need and to support community leaders to access the knowledge that can enable them to take control of their financial future.”
The first supportive ecosystem will be launched in the first quarter of 2021 in partnership with The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. This partnership, entitled “Thriving Prophetic Congregations: A Learning Journey with Black Congregations in the Southeastern United States,” has been funded by a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment. “ITC is excited to partner with Crossing Capital Group and the Oikos Institute to launch this impactful program,” said Matthew Wesley Williams, President of ITC. “The Thriving Prophetic Congregations initiative will help missional congregations reimagine their assets and ministries to facilitate flourishing in the communities they serve.”
Oikos is working to develop similar ecosystem initiatives across the country, with efforts under way in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Raleigh-Durham, NC. “We aim to help faith communities move from a place of survival and scarcity toward a spirit of imagination and abundance,” said Oikos Institute Executive Director Dr. Blount. “By embracing their role as an anchor institution, and having access to the resources and capital to fully realize this role, churches can be a transformational force for economic renewal.”
About Crossing Capital Group
Crossing Capital Group (CCG) helps faith communities reimagine and steward their assets for the well-being of their community. CCG provides advisory services to equip communities with the vision, tools and multiple sources of capital required to plan, launch, and scale socially beneficial businesses and real estate development projects.
About the Oikos Institute for Social Impact
The Oikos Institute for Social Impact helps congregations harness the power of their assets in order to be a catalyst for communal transformation and economic renewal. Through strategic partnerships with seminaries, universities, foundations, government agencies and denominational judicatories, the Oikos Institute creates mutually supportive ecosystems that strengthen the Faith, Intellectual, Social and Human Capital of congregations actively engaged in social impact and transformational work in the under-resourced communities they serve.
About Nonprofit Finance Fund
Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF®) works toward a more equitable, responsive, and valued social sector. NFF provides financing and consulting to help nonprofits and their funders better connect money to mission results. They are a community development financial institution (CDFI) applying 40 years of experience to today’s toughest social challenges, and they share what they learn to speed progress. NFF manages over $335 million. Since 1980, they have provided more than $954 million in financing and access to additional capital in support of over $3 billion in projects for thousands of organizations nationwide.