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Finance & Investment
Rise in ‘Balance Sheet Activism’ Swells CNote’s Community Investment Platform to $300M

Apple, Netflix, Xylem and others are putting corporate cash to work in financially underserved communities by moving money to CDFIs, LID credit unions and MDIs throughout the US.

This week, CNote — a women-led impact platform on a mission to close the wealth gap through financial innovation — announced that recent commitments from Apple, Netflix and Xylem have pushed the total funding being deployed to underserved communities via its investment platform to nearly $300 million. The milestone reflects accelerated momentum for the fintech firm’s work to leverage corporate balance sheets to improve racial and gender equity.

The announcement comes just days after JUST Capital released its 2022 Corporate Racial Equity Tracker — which found signs of progress in key areas of the corporate world’s sweeping commitments to use their power to help advance racial equity in the US, but miles to go toward implementing truly meaningful and impactful action. CNote’s $300 million milestone is a heartening sign that progress is building.

“We’re seeing continued interest from large corporations in balance sheet activism. It’s a movement, not a moment,” said CNote CEO Catherine Berman, adding that “this interest runs across industries, as our newest clients illustrate. They’re looking at the corporate treasury as a tool to deepen their DEI, ESG and racial justice goals.”

Advancing corporate goals while minimizing risk

Apple’s recent $25 million commitment to CNote is part of its broader Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, an effort to address systemic racism in the US and expand opportunities for communities of color. According to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, “By working with CNote to get funds directly to historically under-resourced communities through their local financial institutions, we can support equity, entrepreneurship and access.”

As global water technology company Xylem explained while announcing its initial $5 million commitment to CNote, diversity, equity and inclusion are critical elements of its sustainability strategy. The company noted that CNote’s platform “provides an easy-to-use and measurable tool for streamlining Xylem’s investment with one interface while maximizing the impact created for underserved communities of color across the US.”

CNote’s platform enables corporations and other institutional investors to contribute to racial and gender equity while generating returns on fixed income and cash allocations. It places money in community development financial institution (CDFI) loan funds and in depository products — such as money market accounts and CDs — from vetted FDIC- and NCUA-insured CDFIs, low-income designation (LID) credit unions and minority depository institutions (MDIs). Platform users can track their impact via CNote’s quarterly reporting on the social benefits of their deposits and investments.

Funds deployed through CNote’s platform grow the deposit base of mission-driven banks and credit unions that serve low- and moderate-income people as well as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, allowing those institutions to improve their reach and service. CDFIs fund women- and minority-led small businesses, affordable housing and economic development. LID credit unions serve communities where most people have household incomes well below the national median. And MDIs are financial lifelines for communities of color.

CNote’s impact reporting highlights ESG’s social dimension

Apple, Netflix, Xylem and others using CNote’s platform — including Mastercard and PayPal — receive quarterly impact reports showing how their dollars were deployed and how communities benefited. That is a significant advantage given the heightened attention to ESG reporting, Berman noted: “When companies activate their balance sheet to expand access and opportunities for communities of color and other underserved communities, they are authentically addressing the social dimension of ESG.”

Find out more about CNote’s platform and see illustrative beneficiaries here.