i3 Speaker: Darren Walker, Ford Foundation

We were thrilled to welcome Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, to campus on March 23, 2016 for meetings with our team and an intimate roundtable discussion with CASE i3 Fellows and Associates and other staff and students at Fuqua.

The Ford Foundation is the nation’s second largest philanthropy, and has a rich history in impact investing, having invented the Program Related Investment (PRI), helped catalyze both the global microfinance and the domestic community development industries, as well as supported the divestment movement in South Africa, a precursor to the social and environmental and governance investment screens in use globally today.

Under Darren’s leadership, Ford will reduce its focus to five major drivers of inequality, and will work to bring the foundation’s $12 billion endowment into this work. Darren’s talk explored the past and future of impact investing and the ability of foundations to use their assets to cross disciplines and conventional boundaries to invest more strategically in a more equitable and just society.

“I no longer find it defensible to say that our investment strategy is only to maximize the value of our endowment—just as it’s no longer defensible for a corporation to say its only responsibility is to maximize shareholder value.” – Darren Walker, November, 2015.

“The Ford Foundation invented the PRI in the 70’s as a tool to augment our grantmaking in our urban development program. The IRS then gave Ford a blanket ruling, so that all philanthropists could use it. And for many years it was a cutting edge innovation Ford used for many purposes, including tax credit housing, value chain development, women’s programs in India and Kenya, etc. And now it’s highly used in philanthropy.” – Darren Walker,  March 23, 2016.

“No other foundation as large as we are has explored endowment investing with impact as seriously as we intend to. And if we can make it work, there isn’t any foundation of any size that shouldn’t be able to do this as well.” – Darren Walker,  March 23, 2016.

Bahari Darren Cathy

CASE i3 Co-chair Bahari Harris, Darren Walker and Cathy Clark

Darren Cathy

Darren Walker and Cathy Clark