For ten years Pacific Community Ventures has worked with the Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) to annually evaluate the social performance of Invest Northwest, a place-based mission-related private equity fund.
Invest Northwest was created in 2004 with the twin objectives of generating market-rate financial returns and social returns aligned with NWAF’s mission — to support efforts by people, organizations and communities to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity in the northwestern states of the U.S. As a place-based investment, Invest Northwest was established to support business growth and retention as well as the creation of good jobs for residents within NWAF’s eight-state service region that encompasses Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington.
Invest Northwest was developed at a time when mission investing was still an emerging practice, and when few investors were prioritizing impact measurement to better understand the social performance of their investments. Now ten years later, the experience of developing, launching, managing, and evaluating Invest Northwest has provided important lessons that have informed NWAF’s and AECF’s respective mission investing programs. These lessons are also relevant to impact investors and place-based investors across America. With the fund coming to a close, this report documents these important lessons and reflections, as well as the history of Invest Northwest, the fund’s financial performance, and its strong social performance.