We made our first forays into mission investing with a senior loan to New Jersey Community Capital (New Jersey Community Loan Fund) in 1997. On the program side, we made below-market-rate loans as program-related investments (PRIs) to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and other organizations that helped poor people to acquire assets. We also wanted to seek market-rate investments that provided mission returns, so we took limited partnership positions in several for-profit funds that could create jobs in addition to housing oppertunities, as aligned with our mission.
The net result was that by 2000, Heron’s mission-related portfolio totaled $15.8 million (6 percent of the endowment), and we had begun to reshape our vision, program and staff. This paved the way for our 2011 shift to "Heron as an Enterprise."