Announcement: Transform Finance Selects First 3 Cities for Local Institutes


Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Phoenix chosen from field of 20+ cities

The Transform Finance Institute for Social Justice Leaders – Transform Finance’s flagship training at the intersection of capital and social justice – announced in 2018 a new initiative to bring localized versions to six communities across the United States. Following a selection process among more than 20 cities that applied, Transform Finance is excited to announce that the first three local Institutes will take place in Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Phoenix.

“When we put out our open call, dozens of passionate people—separated by geography but unified by their devotion to building a socially just city—told us about the challenges and inspiration in their communities,” said Eric Horvath, Program Manager for Community and Social Justice Partnerships.

Historically, the Institute has been held in the Bay Area or New York City and been open to an international audience. The Institute serves as an introduction to the intersection of social justice and capital for its participants, who range from activists to organizers and any social justice practitioner new to the world of finance. These localized versions will complement the flagship training (New York City, September 21-22, 2018) that has attracted community leaders and practitioners from across the country and overseas over the last five years.

Local Institutes will catalyze discussions and actions around how capital flows for communities, prioritizing the amplification of social justice leaders’ voices and expertise. This year and next, with support from the Surdna Foundation, Transform Finance is thrilled to partner with local champions across the country to localize the flagship Institute and bring it to 6 cities. While the selection process is already underway, cities and communities are welcome to apply for the remaining three spots.

Transform Finance believes communities need to be centered in decisions involving capital flows and these Institutes have the chance to serve as a first step. Transform Finance is honored to be given the opportunity to partner with respected changemakers in Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Phoenix, and hope to build on and add value to the amazing work that is already taking place.

ATLANTA is full of community organizations that are hungry to attract the capital for programs, jobs, and developments to grow their neighborhoods in a just and equitable way, according to local champions Nikishka Iyengar and Melonie Tharpe (The Guild). But despite (or perhaps because of) the prevalence of finance and banking in the city, Atlanta is still in its early days of impact investing and including communities in the conversation around capital flows. With The Guild, as well as local champion TransFormation Alliance, we are hopeful the Institute will catalyze the process of dozens of community organizations engaging with finance as a tool for social justice.

CINCINNATI is at the heart of some of America’s most exciting community and economy development, according to local champions Derrick Braziel (MORTAR) and Kristen Barker (Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative). The Institute will build on the pioneering work already being done by the local community around social entrepreneurship and socially-conscious funds by exploring new economic tools and unlocking potential for underserved Cincinnatians.

PHOENIX continues to experience displacement in communities that have been marginalized for decades. Moreover, new investment is accelerating inequality and nonlocal land ownership. Despite these strong headwinds, communities are fighting for social justice by combating predatory lending, offering micro-loans for local entrepreneurs to generate local wealth, and increasing homeownership for people of color, according to local champion Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona Foundation). Along with other local champions Katelyn Harris-Lange (African-American Women's Giving and Empowerment Circle) and the Vitalyst Health Foundation, we are thrilled to bring the Institute to Phoenix so the city and its community members can keep innovating around finance for social justice. 


If you would like to learn more about Transform Finance and the Institute for Social Justice Leaders, please contact Eric Horvath at

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Transform Finance is a fiscally sponsored project of Virginia Organizing, a 501(c)(3) organization