Design Teams
Fall 2020

Carter Hales Design Lab
An experiment gone right.

Design for the
Common Good

Artists, designers and other creative professionals have the power to effect positive social change and generate financial reward.

Welcome to Upstart Co-Lab and the world of Impact Investing

Lorrie Meyercord

Why does it have to be called impact investing; why not just investing?

Kauai-based Lorrie Meyercord is an investor who believes in the power of investing consciously, for not only financial return, but for positive social impact.

She learned about impact investing from her brother Jack. Meyercord wanted to explore how to use money in a meaningful way, so Jack invited her to attend a Social Capital Markets (SoCap) impact investing conference to give her a sense of how it worked. She found it inspiring and went on to engage a keynote speaker, Jed Emerson, as an advisor.

As a painter herself, Meyercord wanted her investments to advance the cause of creativity, as opposed to directing capital to some of the more common avenues of impact investing such as the environment, micro-finance, or education. So Emerson suggested she meet Laura Callanan and Upstart Co-Lab to discuss investment options that combine impact and creativity.

Soon after, Meyercord invested $1 million in the Calvert Foundation Community Investment Note as part of an Upstart pilot project. Her investment, along with capital from six other art-loving impact investors, backed a loan to Artspace, a Minneapolis-based non-profit developer of affordable housing and workspace for artists. The loan funded pre-development costs for new facilities in Dearborn and Memphis.

The following year, Meyercord invested $100,000 from her donor-advised fund in the NYC Inclusive Creative Economy Fund, raised by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in partnership with Upstart. The fund raised $6.2 million to finance affordable workspaces where exorbitant real estate prices would otherwise make it cost-prohibitive for creative businesses in food, fashion, media, and other sectors to get a foothold and grow. But when these businesses gain traction, they can become great employers, especially of local low and middle-income workers.

The fund also made loans to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to support a building for fashion businesses. And to Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design's new shared workspace for design-build businesses in areas like wood and metalworking, jewelry making, and the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, a 50-year-old East Village institution that the New York Times calls "a multicultural hive of avant-garde drama and performance art," and that has nurtured the careers of actors, artists, and producers of note.

Through these and other activities, Meyercord pushes for the intersection of money and meaning as the new norm. "By aligning our investments with our values," she says, "we can have a bigger impact on the causes that mean something to us."

Some of Meyercord's other impact investments include:

Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based, B Corp-certified "immersive experience" 
arts and entertainment group that "transports audiences to fantastic realms" and champions "otherness, weirdness, and radical inclusion."

ETHIC Investment Advisors, which creates customized index funds for 
social impact.

Membership in TONIIC, a global action community for impact investing, and its subset, the 100% Network, for people committed to impact-only investment portfolios.

Meow Wolf’s Art Motel Installation at the 2017 Life is Beautiful Festival.
 Photo by Lindsey Kennedy, courtesy Meow Wolf.
interior of a building decorated in a vibrant fun theme
The Crystal Grotto, part of Meow Wolf's Santa Fe exhibit, The House of Eternal Return.
 Photo by Kate Russell, courtesy Meow Wolf
woven mini house on top of flowers